National, News

Military defection hits SPLA-IO

By Bida Elly David

Over 200 soldiers from Dr. Riek Machar’s SPLM/A-IO have switched allegiance to the Sudan Peoples Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the SPLM party led by President Salva Kiir.

Lt. Gen. Simon Maguek Gai inclusive, the defectors were received by SPLM Party Secretary General Peter Lam Both on Saturday in Unity State.

Unity State Governor, Dr. Joseph Manytuil Wejang, who doubles as the state SPLM Chairperson witnessed the event.

Other SPLM party officials present included Chief Administrator, also SPLM Chairperson of Ruweng, Stafano Wieu Maliek, and SPLM Chairperson, also deputy governor of Jonglei State, Jacob Akech Dengdit.

SPLM national secretaries, among others, were also in attendance at the welcoming ceremony.

In a statement, Unity State Governor, Dr. Joseph Manytuil Wejang said the defecting SPLA-IO forces claimed Machar lacks vision and wisdom.

Lt. Gen. Simon Maguek, former sector two commander of Unity State, accused Machar of political and military marginalization.

He further accused Machar of subjecting himself to greed and prioritizing his family over other party members.

Gen. Maguek also stated that the defection was due to Dr. Machar’s tendency towards dictatorship.

“Dr. Riek has the character of not being liberal. He does not accept the opinion of others except his wife; he fears the truth, and he dislikes you more when you try to correct his opinion,” Maguek exclaimed.

According to him, Dr. Machar lacks monitoring and evaluation knowledge, noting that he gives powers without supervision.

“He can give you powers and leave you to do whatever you wish to do with them. He cannot follow you up, nor does he evaluate your actions,” he continued.

He said, “Dr. Machar is a man who only favors assigning or deploying his close relatives.

The military officer further lamented that the first vice president made the SPLM/A-IO his family affairs with the aim of enriching himself.

Lt. Gen. Maguek Gai appreciated the SPLM party under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit for the incredible welcome.

For his part, Peter Lam Both, the SPLM Party Secretary General, commended the SPLM/A-IO High Ranking Officers for their decision to switch sides.

Mr. Both said joining SPLM and SSPDF is crucial for Kiir’s endorsement as the flag bearer of the party for the 2024 polls.

“The decision of the high-ranking officers is monumental, as the people of Upper Nile Region are going to endorse President Salva Kiir Mayardit as SPLM flag bearer and presidential candidate for the forthcoming general election in 2024,” said Lam.

Secretary Lam commended the officers for having taken the greatest initiative at a time when SPLM is gearing towards winning elections.

Meanwhile, Unity State Governor and state SPLM Chairperson, Dr. Joseph Manytuil, welcomed the return of Lt. Gen. Simon Maguek Gai and his colleagues to SPLM and SSPDF.

Manytuil noted that their return was the beginning of real peace in Unity State and the Upper Nile Region as a whole.

However, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the SPLM/A-IO military spokesperson, confirmed the defection of their senior military officers but disputed the huge number stated.

He told the No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that only six high-ranking officers defected to SPLM, alongside Gen. Simon Maguek Gai, the leader of the defectors.

Lam rubbished all allegations of nepotism, non-liberalism, dictatorship, and power greed labeled against his boss, Machar, noting that they were false.

He stated that SPLM-IO, being the party or the military segment, contains officers from all ten states across the country.

“I don’t see anything concerning nepotism. I don’t think it is right to call Dr. Machar tribal unless it is their community, but SPLM-IO has been balanced according to the distribution of responsibilities,” he defended his boss.

He downplayed Simon Maguek’s claims, saying “he is a lieutenant general unless he wanted to claim a ministerial position in the Ministry of Defense.”

Lam added that SPLM/A-IO is a political and military segment that employs people based on geographic and gender considerations.

On the claim of the general welfare of the army and the people, Col. Lam argued that it is not Machar’s responsibility to cater for the forces and the people himself.

“When the peace was signed, the Joint Defense Board (JDB) was responsible for the command and control of all the forces; secondly, the national transitional committee was responsible for everything in the agreement,” Lam said.

He warned Gen. Simon Maguek, of accusing Machar without facts and noting that his defection, along with the six ranking officials, was their will.

“They may be misused to tarnish the image of the movement and the reputation of Dr. Machar himself as the commander in chief and the chair of SPLM/A-IO,” Lam noted.

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