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S. Sudan’s Otuho rebels unveil objectives for armed struggle

December 4, 2015 (JUBA) - A new South Sudanese rebel faction predominantly member of the Latuka ethnic group which locally identifies itself as Otuho in Eastern Equatoria state has unveiled objectives for taking up arms against the government of president Salva Kiir, saying the government has lost historical vision for the people.

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Rebel fighters protect civilians from the Nuer ethnic group (not seen) walk through flooded areas to reach a camp in UNMISS base in Bentiu, Sept. 20, 2014 (Photo AP/Matthew Abbott)

An army officer who identified himself as Major General Anthony Ongwaja, and claimed to be the chairman of the South Sudan Federal Democratic Party (SSFDP) and the commander-in-chief of the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF), said during an interview with Sudan Tribune on Friday that because the country’s leadership had deprived people of the core principles of the cause of the liberation struggle for independence since 1947, they were rebelling to set it right.

He said they would fight to ensure that a federal democratic system of governance is established in South Sudan.

“The objectives of the inception of South Sudan armed forces as a military wing of South Sudan Federal Democratic Party is: establishment of South Sudan as federal democratic country on the basis of equality, rule of law, democratic system and a country where the right of each and every citizen regardless of tribe, region or gender is respected and upheld,” said Ongwaja.

The official said his movement also advocates for establishment of a multi-party system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national election with equal chance of gaining control of government offices, separately or in coalition government.

His forces on Thursday took control of a police post, 35km outside Torit, the state capital, and threatened to match towards the state capital.

The group seems to be echoing the demands of the armed opposition faction led by former vice president, Riek Machar, who demanded federal system of governance and democracy in the country.

The new rebel group has also copied the would be constitutional name of the South Sudanese army, which is to be named the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) in accordance with the current transitional constitution, 2011, but which has not yet been implemented, pending transformation of the army.