Home | News    Friday 29 December 2017

South Sudan army deploys former rebel commander in new reshuffle

December 28, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese army (SPLA) has deployed General Dau Aturjong, a former rebel commander, to head its third infantry division in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region.

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General Dau Aturjong (ST)

The division oversees and provides security protection to Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states, two of South Sudan’s former states expanded into Twic, Aweil East, Aweil and parts of Lol, Gogrial and Tonj states.

The third infantry division under Aturjong also extends military support to the contested Abyei area and parts of the greater Unity region.

The former rebel commander succeeds Dau General Santino Deng Wol who has been promoted and given new assignment as the commander of ground forces at the military headquarters in Bilpam.

The reshuffle comes a week after the Juba government and rebels agreed on a ceasefire mediated by the East African regional bloc (IGAD).

The new changes in the country’s military have, however, been well received by the local population, many of whom have long preferred that the ex-rebel commander remains in active military service, despite his political ambitions to serve in political capacities.

In 2010, Aturjong contested an independent candidate against the incumbent governor, General Paul Malong Awan, whose candidature was approved and supported by the ruling party (SPLM). The outcome of the elections was announced in favour of Awan, despite reports of people either denied to vote in favour of Aturjong, turned away from polling centers or ballots inflated to cover deficit in places where there are wide margins to close.

When Awan was later appointed as the army chief of staff, Aturjong joined the armed opposition faction allied to the country’s former vice president Riek Machar when violence erupted in December 2013. Aturjong later returned to Juba as part of the advance team of the rebels following the signing of the 2015 peace agreement.

He was returned to active military services and deployed to Jonglei, where he was the overall commander of the government’s eighth infantry division. When President Salva Kiir made changes in the top army command of the army, resulting in the promotion of some major Generals to the rank of Lieutenant, Aturjong was moved from Jonglei and taken to Aweil where, Wol, a United States sanctioned and the longest division commander was promoted and given another assignment at the headquarters.

Meanwhile, analysts and observers are keen to underline the changes are parts of the strategies by president Kiir to consolidate his political support base in the area following removal of Awan from army leadership.