April 06, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) — In mid February 2014, South Sudan parliament reported that 70% of the army defected, but Machar did not confirm the exact number. He has, however, described the mass defection as an uprising against Salva Kiir’s regime, following the alleged coup incident. The mass uprising has also comes up in other independent contexts.
“I don’t think this was a planned uprising, it’s as likely that Salva Kiir is using the excuse of putting down a coup to suppress political dissent.” Douglas Johnson, an expert on South Sudan history, said.
Machar believes that Juba government has no army.
“The truth is that Salva Kiir has no army. It has disintegrated. It is a combination of Uganda’s army and Sudanese armed groups.” Machar confirmed, referring to Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and SPLM-North.
JEM has reportedly played a leading role in recapturing of Bentiu by the government forces in January, after it was overran by the rebels in December. JEM’s leadership, however, denied fighting alongside the Juba government.
According to Machar, JEM is contradicting its vision; fighting against injustice in Sudan while backing injustice in South Sudan.
“I am taken aback by the decision of the Darfur opposition to join Salva Kiir. As we know, they were officially complaining about the lack of justice in Sudan. They left their demand and are fighting against South Sudanese people. They have shown their true motives.” Machar told the Turkish Press reports
The SPLA-North, made up of mostly division 9 and 10 of the former SPLA forces, has enaged the rebels in some of the fiercely fought battles of Upper Nile, in and around the oil rich city of Malakal.
But due to the mass defection and also the huge influx of the white army, the SPLA in opposition has stood its ground against the allied Sudanese rebels, Uganda mercenaries and the remnants of SPLA forces that are still loyal to the government. The rebels control the oil fields in Unity state, most parts of Upper Nile and Jonglei state.
Machar beleives that as long as they are not attacked by the government forces, they will remain where they currently occupy.
“If they do not encroach on our territories, we remain where we are. ” Machar told the Turkish Press journalist.
“Our forces are fighting in typical guerilla tactic. We have not retreated from any of our positions and areas of control. We have the mobility and can attack at the time and place of our choice.” Machar continued.
He has, however, declared his intentions of matching his forces to the oil fields. Machar believes that if he controls all the oil fields, Juba will be crippled and robbed of its abilities to buy weapons to attack their positions.
Whether the rebels have the capacity to overrun the oil fields or not is questionable. However, the rebels believe that they have over 60,000 most feared white army and about 20, 000 SPLA forces in Upper Nile.
In readiness, Juba has massed up enough soldiers in Paloch to defend the oil fields. The government is also seeking reinforcements from any country to protect the oil fields. IGAD has responded with what they refer as a Deterrent and Protection Force last month but the decision has been decried by both factions, citing fear of manipulation of such force by the external bodies.
Salva Kiir has called on the region to send him troops to crash the rebels and to protect the endangered installations. This call has been constantly repeated by the Minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Marial Benjamin, press secretary, Ateny Wek, the minister of defense, Kuol Manyang Juuk, among others.
Marial has approached Egypt, Zimbabwe, and most East African nations for military support but none other than Uganda has responded so far. President Salva Kiir persuaded his counterpart, Bashir in Khartoum this week to contribute army but Bashir concentrated mostly on the implementation of the cooperate agreements.
Machar believes that Sudan is neutral, and may not support Salva Kiir against his forces.
“We have good brotherly relations and trust with the government of Sudan. We know for sure the Sudanese government is determined to be a middle-of-the-road peace broker.” Machar told the Turkish Press.