Updated at 2: 50pm, Sept 13, 2014(PST).
Sept 13, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Six members of the newly established South Sudan Air Force have today declared their loyalty to South Sudan’s armed opposition, under the leadership of the former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
“We, the undersigned six personnel from SPLA (South Sudan Air Force) as of today 13th September 2014 do hereby declare our defection to SPLA/SPLM under able leadership of Dr. RiekMacharTeny.” the personnel declared their allegiance in Addis Ababa, on Sept 13, 2014.
The ranks include the Chief Air Force, Fighter Engineer, MI 17 Helicopter Fighter Pilot, Flight Engineer, Air Traffic Controller and a Senior Manager from South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority.
- 1st Lt. Tut Jock Bov, Chief Air Force, Ground Engineer.
- 1st Lt. Pito Adwok Nyaba, Fixed Wing Pilot
- Sgt. Ocholla Joseph, Flight Engineer
- Pvt. Khan David Bedit, MI 17 Helicopter Pilot
- Pvt. Liech Domai Ruei, Air Traffic Controller and
- Mr. Riang Ruei Duop, Senior Manager from South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority
The well trained air servicemen sharply criticized the system under Salva Kiir Mayardit, the incumbent president of South Sudan, for poor leadership, lost of political and military vision and direction, nepotism, corruption, tribalism, poor maintenance, poor salary payment, and nevertheless for using the Air Force to aid killing of innocent populations across the country.
The six outline their grievances as follow:
- Training opportunities for South Sudanese joining the Air Force does not reflect diversity; for instance, the first batch comprised of 32 pilots, 21 of which were from Dinka tribe, the remaining 63 tribes were represented by just 11 pilots.
- Poor promotion policy: Officers who joined the Air Force in 2007 have never been promoted and in some situations, promotions are based on ethnicity.
- Poor maintenance and services police, up to two-thirds of the fleet is grounded due to corrupt practices by successive Air Force Commanders who would misappropriate funds meant for maintenance and services
- Limited and Selective Currency Training which is based on ethnicity.
- The welfare and health requirements for air force personnel is not looked after
- When the civil war broke out in December 2013, the Air Force was extensively used to transport soldiers involved in the killing of innocent civilians.
- Political and military leaderships has lost vision and direction
- Rampant corruption in the SPLA which results in acute salary delays, low morale among servicemen/women, and poor combat service support leading to poor performance of combat units.
According to director of military information and military spokesman for SPLA (Opposition), Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, “these are some of the best trained air servicemen; some of whom received training in South Africa, Ethiopia, Russia and the United States of America.”
Lul believes that this current defection will have a significant effects in the current civil war, and would be a major blow to SPLM-Juba as the opposition plans to establish their own Air Force in the liberated areas to defend the populations from Ugandan air raids.
“Their defection to SPLA (Opposition) is a major blow to Juba. Their presence in the resistance movement will facilitate establishment of Air Force in liberated areas as well as help in countering UPDF’s Air force which had dominated the skies of South Sudan since the Civil War broke out on 15th December 2013.” Lul said.
South Sudan air space is still controlled by Sudan, however, it has been dominated by the Ugandan Air Force, which bombs randomly in the three states of Greater Upper Nile, killing any living being that comes to sight.
The Ugandans have bombed cattle camps in the Nuer areas, mostly in Urror county of Jonglei State, killing elderly and cattle in March this year.
Other significant violations such as the use of internationally banned cluster bombs on unarmed populations have been internationally condemned.
Uganda fights alongside SPLA-Juba forces, however, effects of its bombardment did not spare the government controlled major towns such as Bor, Malakal and Bentiu. The three towns were ragged to ashes earlier this year as Uganda Air Force attempted to dislodge the armed oppositions from the major towns.
Despite the campaign succeeded at a cost of heavy destruction, most parts of the three states of Greater Upper Nile adhere loyalty to the armed opposition.
War broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, following a break down in SPLM’s primaries, during National Liberation Council meeting to elect the SPLM chairman and the 2015 Election party’s flag bearer.
The post was contested by Salva Kiir, whose term as the party’s chairman expired in May 2013, first vice-chairman, Dr Riek. Machar, SPLM founding mother, Rebeca Mabior, and SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum.
The three candidates failed to turn up on the second day of the conference following hostile remarks by Salva Kiir on the first day, December 14, 2013.
According to Professor Peter Adwok Nyaba, the former Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, who attended the second day of the meeting, the absence of Dr. Riek Machar, Mama Rebecca, and Pagan Amum, forced Salva Kiir to order dismemberment of Ethnically Nuer members of presidential guard unit.
The government reports, however, indicate that there was a shooting over the conference hall during the meeting, at around 3pm, which is believed to have connections with the shooting among the presidential guards unit after 9pm on December 15, 2013.
War has continued for the last nine months and the regionally mediated peace talks have produced almost to none. The talks will resume on Monday, as alleged, outside Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.