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Ex-South Sudan army general claims over 5,000 new recruits joined rebellion

August 3, 2014 (JUBA) – A former South Sudanese army (SPLA) general who recently defected to rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar claimed he has lured over 5,000 officials from both within and outside the country to join rebellion.

General Dau Aturjong (ST)

“Such responses by our people in just a short period of time, might not only [be] a turning point in the outbreak response searching an inclusive alternative solution to the ailments our people have been subject to by the government of Salva Kiir and his friends, but clearly expresses to the whole world and the region that the government has lost total legitimacy”, Gen. Dau Aturjong told Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

He further claimed more than 1000 senior officials and military officers from different parts of the state and abroad have joined him since he defected from the SPLA to the opposition.

“The basic techniques and approaches for removing that government and introduced democratic reforms were well known but there were differences in applying them, but now our people have realised that there is only way to apply these techniques and the alternative option now is to remove Salva Kiir and his friends from running affairs of our people at any cost as first priority,” he said.

Aturjong, a former commander of the army’s sixth division in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, declared his intention to join rebellion in May. Since then, several officials in the state have followed suit.

“We have now received more than more than 5000 officials and military officers. They do not include youth and trained soldiers, which is unprecedented development in the history of rebellion,” said Aturjong.

“When the SPLM/A was established, we did not have such a huge force joining in such a short period,” added the former division commander.

Authorities in Northern Bahr el Ghazal recently launched a crackdown on several officials and youth groups in an attempt to contain the spread and growth of rebellion within the border region.

Observers, however, say the current onslaught on those with critical views on the performance of government evidently shows how the regime was beginning to experience the impact of Aturjong’s defection.

Abdullah Kuot, a former MP-turned rebel, said defections to the rebellion were occurring both in the rural and urban areas of Northern Bahr el Ghazal.

"Reports of our people deciding to join the movement are occurring in rural areas which are difficult to access, but also in densely populated capital cities”, Kuot told Sudan Tribune in a separate interview.

“The intent is to let us come to the realisation that something is wrong and what is wrong is serious,” he added, stressing that it was the fundamental right of citizens to fight for democratic reforms in the country.