Updated at 2:45Pm, July 18, 2014(Pacific Time).
July 18, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Defections and ambushes are raising panic in Bahr el Ghazal, a region that has been relatively calm despite intense battles in the other two regions. Latest reports from the ground reveal that armed youth and generals are defecting the government in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.
Sources believe that more than 300 armed youths have defected in the last two days to join the rebel movement under Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the former vice president.
“Our decision to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Opposition is essentially rooted for our desire to preserve national pride and one identity. It is a decision borne out of our resolve to rescue the country from disintegrating into tribal units and restore hope and foster peaceful coexistence [for] our people through the restructuring of the country under [a] federal system,” Abdullah Kuot, the group’s spokesperson said.
Northern Barh el Ghazal, has been relatively peaceful, but not until mid April this year. Military sources from multiple counties believe that the defections are threatening peace in Aweil and neighboring counties.
“The fighting erupted in the county headquarters of aweil west between the the splm spla forces and the government, I talked to them yesterday and the casualties is about 28 appeared dead and several other wounded the situation is now clam and any other attack can happen soon because are still around town” Chuai confirmed to Nyamilepedia.
Sources obtained by Sudan Tribune, put the death toll at about 60 people. The exact number of casualties is yet to be verified.
“More 60 comrades have lost their lives because in our battalion alone, we have sent 120 people and what remained is now less than 40 people. Some were killed and others wounded. This demoralised the fighting forces because they were sent with only light weapons. They went with Kalashnikov rifle machine guns, forgetting that these defectors were carrying heavy machine guns with them. That was why many were killed”, a military officer said.
The defection from Northen Bahr el Ghazal state, which begins in April, is attributed to the appointment of the current Chief of General Staff, Gen. Malong Awan, the former governor of the state and the defection of Gen. Dau Atorjung, who constested against Malong Awan in 2010 election.
While Malong is accused of having ruled the state with an iron fist, supporters of Gen. Dau Atorjung, the former division 6 commander, who were recruited earlier this year to quilt rebellion, are switching sides.
Most have cited government negligence to support their family, or care for the widows, orphans and wounded soldiers. Most abandoned their defense positions, allegedly due to government failure to pay them salaries as promised during the training.
Two weeks ago, the loyalists in Kwajok and Rubkhona fought among themselves over salaries, a trend that has been witnessed at the end of the last few months. Juba promises the angry forces to expect a double payment at the end of subsequent month, a promise that temporarily restores peace without solving it.
The salary issue is believed to have immersed pressure on the Ministry of Defense and the office of Chief of General Staff. The two offices struggle to carter for their own army but also for the Ugandan army.
The Uganda People Defense Force(UPDF) was contracted in December last year, initially to evacuated Ugandans nationals from South Sudan. That mandate has changed overtime. Today, the UPDF is limited to protecting the strategic town of Bor and Juba.
While Malong would prefer his home boys, the SPLA, paid the defense minister allegedly gives priorities to the Ugandan army.
Gen. Malong, the Chief of Staff, who recruits forces from his own home states, is believed to have been hit by the defection of the army. Believed to have been working hard to avert this unfortunate incident, Malong has allegedly over stepped his COGS mandates, sidelining his boss Gen. Kuol Manyang, the minister of Defense, to seek solution from Salva Kiir.
This has allegedly created rift between the former governors, who are managing a newly recruited undisciplined army, to quilt rebellion and restore calm. Manyang, however, has denied the rift.
In lake state, these type of problems are handled differently. While teachers and other government employees are joining the army citing the diversion of their salaries to carter for the overwhelmed army, the caretaker governor, Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol, removes thousands from police service, citing the same reason, lack of budget.
Last month, while the newly recruited soldiers returned from the front lines in Jonglei, Maj. Gen. Matur removes 3,800 polices from service due to lack of budget. Contrarily, those who abandoned positions were confronted, although they cited the same reason, salary.
The caretaker governor, whose predecessor Chol Tong Mayay is currently weighing war against the government, explains that the polices, despite that they served for more than two years, were only helping the the state government to quilt cattle raids and ethnic feuds.
“These forces were helping, working in they counties as organized forces – that was their duties,” Dhuol told the state government-owned FM-98 radio.
“They were not real police, but they were to help in clashes in the counties. They were to join the police but police have no budget to pay them,” he added.
Within the same week, however, governor Matur, ordered the commissioners from the 8 counties to forcefully recruit youth to join the army. Precisely, the governor ordered each of the commissioners to recruit 800 youth or face his government.
“Those chiefs who will fail to bring me their youth to join the army will be sacked – you are mandated by the governor’s order to recruit youth,” the power governor said.
“Anyone who will not apply this order will lose his position before I lose my position,” Mature clearly convey his message.
Some chiefs and commissioners, however, heeded the call and instead distanced themselves from the state government. According to the online Hope For Africa authorities in Wulu, Rumbek East, Yirol West, Yirol East, Cueibet and Awerial counties have distanced themselves from the state government.
Unlike Norther Bahr el Ghazal’s Aweil county, where Chief Deng Geng defected to the rebels and create panic, the chiefs and youths in Lake state are peacefully demanding that the Major General must step down or be removed by force.
“This imposed caretaker governor must step down, otherwise force will be used against him to step down,” Lakes state youth activist Moses Ater said.
“I hear president Salva Kiir talking about peace and not about war. Where is this governor getting orders of recruiting youth to join the army from?” he continued.
Lake state remains calm, in spite that Rumbek North commissioner was ambushed a few days ago by unidentified gunmen, allegedly to prevent him from visiting the capital, Rumbek, where Salva Kiir was expected to visit.
Sources believe that Salva Kiir toured the state in a UN charter to avoid similar incidents.