Top S. Sudanese official defects from Machar-led rebels

By IAfrica
In Sudan
Aug 24th, 2014
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August 23, 2014 (JUBA) – A top rebel official on Friday announced his defection from the opposition forces led by former vice president Riek Machar, accusing the latter of “misinforming” his fighters on the actual cause of the ongoing conflict.

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South Sudan’s former vice-president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, pictured in rebel-controlled territory in Jonglei state on 1 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

James Khan Jok, a former education minister in Upper Nile state, returned to Juba with three other officials and was received by Upper Nile’s information, Peter Hoth Tuach, among other officials.

“Riek Machar was telling us [defectors] on the ground that the fighting is between Nuer and Dinka while in Addis Ababa he is appointing Dinkas to key, top positions of rebels,” said Jok.

He however said he was surprised to discover that the rebel external relations spokesman, Mabior Garang de Mabior and foreign affairs coordinator, Dhieu Mathok, were Dinkas serving in the movement.

“I question him [Machar] why you are telling us on the ground that the fighting is between Nuer and Dinka and here you are appointing Dinkas in [to] key positions? This one was not understandable to me. It means that there is a hidden agenda with Riek Machar,” said Khan, who arrived in Juba aboard Kenyan Airways.

The ex-rebel official, in a separate interview, claimed Machar lacked control of forces on the ground and that each commanding officer operated independently without taking orders from the rebel leader.

“Because of this lack of control of forces, the commanding officers continue to operate in their own, thereby resulting to lack of implementation of the cessation hostilities agreement”, he told Sudan Tribune Saturday.

Jok dismissed as “unconstitutional” recent calls by the former vice president-turned rebel leader for dissolution of elected institutions, removal of the president, elected lawmakers and state governors.

“These institutions can only be replaced through election and not any other means”, he stressed.

The rebels, Jok said, are now urging the mediators to grant them 70% representation in the transition government, with 28% for the former political detainees and that government only gets 2% slots.

“So you see that the whole thing in this conflict is about position and does not care about people at all. I said no, peace and unity of our people and the country comes first, not positions,” he remarked.

Upper Nile’s information minister welcomed Khan’s decision to abandon rebellion for the sake of peace and stability in the country.

“The return of comrade Jok is very important for our country and our leadership. I played is a very important role because I want our people and the country to be in peace and stable”, he said.

South Sudanese interior Minister, Aleu Ayieny Aleu, said the return of the former rebels was crucial in efforts to restore peace and unity.

“This is encouraging step and we as the government looks forward to receiving more people who were misled by Riek and the other group. It is time we come together to move this country forward instead of dwelling on the past and looking backward. It is not helpful”, said Aleu.

(ST)

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