By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 24, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – Eleven military officers who originally were loyal to South Sudan opposition group Federal Democratic Party/ South Sudan Armed Forces (FDP/SSAF) switch sides to join SPLM-IO under leadership of the First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Tuesday, the defectors who used to be under Gabrial Changson led faction said they have decided to switch allegiance and loyalty from FDP/SSAF to Taban Deng led SPLM faction after “long and carful deliberation” among themselves.
“We the people behind this declaration paper felt that the four years long war in our country have benefited no one a single coin but the exact opposite” reads part of the statement.
They said peace is the wisest option and urged on south Sudan citizens to work towards Taban Deng.
“Those who backed Taban Deng had been right to choose to remain in peace over those of Riek Machar who chose going back to unwinnable war”
South Sudan erupted into civil war in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy and current rebel leader, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup, an accusation the later denies.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands and forced over 2.6 million people displace from their home.
It has also left an estimated 4.8 million (approximately 40% of the population) to face severe food insecurity.
In August 2015, the two SPLM warring factions signed peace agreement brokered by the regional bloc Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) but the two sides have continued fighting.
The 11 deserters said the IGAd negotiated peace pact maintained by the two principals of SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO holds a better prospect to the immensely suffering people of South Sudan.
“We have come to believe that this maintained peace deal is the window that is to save the bitterly shaken foundation of our country that the war has almost destroyed” they said.
“The continuation of war and its redirect will only take from us more adding to the pile of what it has already claimed in the past four years-mire human live losses and economic hardships” they added.
They called on the people to work for peace in order to save the worlds newest country which is at the verge of collapsing.
Below is list of defectors
1.Col. Pal Bidong Nyoat
2.Col. Changkuoth Ruon JAL
3.Col. Simon Gatluak Tour
4.Lt. Col. Buay Kandong Liem
5.Lt. Col. James Hoth Kun Kong
6.Lt. Col. Hoth Zuor Bol
7.Lt. Col. Mawone Gatluak Rundial
8.Lt. Col. Gattuak Khor Tut
9.Maj. Gatwech Wiw Chiom
10.Maj. Gatreak Luk Thanypiny
11. Capt. Bhan Koang Nguot