Gen. James Tot Jok Koi Denies defections to government

Gen. James Tot Jok(Photo: supplied)

Gen. James Tot Jok(Photo: supplied)

October 9, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) – A South Sudanese general from the country’s rebel faction who is alleged to be pro-government, has dismissed claims he defected to Juba.

General Tot Joak Koi previously fought alongside the Khartoum regime against then guerilla movement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in the more than two decades long north-south civil war.

He took up arms again after conflict erupted in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, in mid-December last year, when more than 20,000 ethnic Nuers were allegedly rounded up and killed by government-backed militias.

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Koi immediately joined the opposition movement led by former vice-president Riek Machar, who fled Juba amid safety fears, later declaring himself the rebel leader.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday, Koi said he would not make the mistake of joining President Salva Kiir’s administration, describing reports he had defected as “merely propaganda”.

He described those who tried to complicate his background as his “true enemy”, saying he had chosen to fight for the sake of his people and that his commitment to the rebel movement remained unwavering.

“I have never gone anywhere. Still my loyalty leans on Dr Riek Machar and the South Sudanese who are fighting a just war. This war must be fought, if Kiir [has] refused to agree on peace deal,” he told Sudan Tribune by phone from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

He said the rebel group supported peace negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict, but warned it was prepared to take military action if the government continued to stall.

Koi said the rebel faction was committed to continuing the struggle for democracy in the young nation.

Ongoing peace talks between the country’s warring parties, which are being mediated by the Intergovermental Authortity on Development (IGAD), in neighbouring Ethiopia, have so far failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.

Koi urged IGAD members states to negotiate fairly in the final round of peace talks, warning that failure to do so would likely result in the mass mobilisation of youth against the government.

The general has accused the South Sudanese government of deliberately blocking progress on the peace process, saying the opposition’s position remained clear.

“What we need is peace for common South Sudanese citizens; we need to address the root cause of the conflict,” he said, adding that those responsible for committing abuses must be held accountable or the same cycle of violence would continue.

Koi is among a number of rebels generals stationed in Wedakona, located in the north of Upper Nile state.

He hails from Wuror County, which is also home to the White Army, which has risen up to fight alongside South Sudanese rebels.

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