South Sudan’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), has been hit by major defections in Unity State after dozens of its forces reportedly joined the armed opposition allied to first vice-president Riek Machar – currently in South Africa – in the north of the state.
In a statement, the armed opposition spokesperson, Colonel William Deng, claimed 250 soldiers had defected from Mayom county, northwest of Bentiu town, the Sudan Tribune reported on Monday.
Those who defected, he said, were commanded by Colonel Simon Mayiel Kulang from brigade 12, division 3 and reported at Panakuach, north of Unity state.
“These huge forces defected with 11 PKM, seven RPGs and a vehicle mounted with enough ammunition,” he said.
The defectors, Deng further said, were received by their sector two commander, Lieutenant-General Maguek Gai Majak at the armed opposition base in Panakuach.
“The number of pro-government soldiers may be more than that. But this is a preliminary report I received from the ground,” he added.
According to Kulang one of the reasons behind the defections was alleged tribalism and nepotism by government forces.
Meanwhile, a South Sudanese blogger is on the run in fear of his life after criticising President Salva Kiir’s decision to appoint his brother in-law as the new Governor of Gogrial state.
Emmanuel Ariech received death threats after lambasting Kiir for employing “nepotism” rather than making appointments based on merit.
“Major-General Gregory Vassills Dmintry’s rise in military ranks has never been about battles won, it has never been real military service delivery but mere consideration given due to the position held by the husband of his sister,” wrote Ariech last week.
Dmintry prior to his appointment was the director of the fire brigade.
– African News Agency (ANA)