March 18, 2017 (JUBA) – Dozens of South Sudan army (SPLA) soldiers led by Captain Lam Yuol Jok abandoned their positions and joined the armed opposition Brigadier Gen. Musa Dakumi in Raja area of Western Bhar el Gazal last Friday, a rebel spokesperson told Sudan Tribune Saturday.
- SPLA soldiers in Malakal, capital of the battleground oil-state of Upper Nile on 15 May 2014 (Photo AFP/Ivan Lieman)
Lt. Col. Lam Paul, a deputy rebel spokesperson, said pro-government camp in Raja and Western Bhar el Ghazal state joined ranks with their forces in the area to fight against the government.
He, however, said the soldiers defected after allegedly witnessing several mistreatment of civilians that include rape, tortures and extra-judicial killing of innocent children in Wau.
“They witnessed many atrocities ranging from gang rape of women and underage girls to kidnap and killing of innocent civilians by the untrained government Militias and so, they decided to join the mighty and disciplined SPLA-IO under the leadership of the Commander In Chief Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon,” Lam told Sudan Tribune.
The rebel official said they have welcomed all steps taken by the former government fighters, adding that their defection to the rebel movement remains a big blow to the Juba regime.
Lam has also disputed earlier reports that Col. Yien Mathew, a former fighter of the armed opposition faction in Upper Nile state defected to the government led by President Salva Kiir.
Yien, according to Lam, joined Lam Akol’s National Democratic Movement (NDM) and not a member of the armed opposition movement led by former First Vice President, Riek Machar.
“Late last year he [Yien] became a member of NDM Liberation Council. Yien Mathew was a beneficiary of Dr. Lam Akol’s NDM and did not rejoin the SPLA-IO completely, even secretly,” he said.
Sudan Tribune was unable to reach the SPLA spokesperson on the alleged defection.