Two senior military officers defect from Machar camp: official

January 13, 2017 (JUBA) – Two senior military officers have defected from South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) loyal to former first vice president, Riek Machar, an official said on Saturday.

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South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Tiksa Negeri)

The spokesperson for the SPLM-IO faction allied first vice-president Taban Deng Gai, Col. Dickson Gatluak Jock, identified the duo as Brigadier General Gabriel Guet and Brigadier General Micheal Tuak from the rebel’s fourth division headquarters in the former Unity state.

“The Leadership of the SPLM/A (IO) is profoundly grateful for the wise decision taken by the two officers to join the SPLA-IO under the wise and able leadership of General Taban Deng Gai, the FVP [first vice president] of the Republic of South Sudan,” Jock said in a statement.

Also said to have defected, according to Jock, is the commissioner of Jekou county in South Sudan’s Maiwut state, James Kueth Chuol.

Chuol, allegedly defected on 12 January 2018 along with 63 soldiers.

“The commissioner who defected from Chany payam is currently in Pagak,” Jock stressed, adding, “I commend them [those who defected] for their wise decision and good steps taken towards the restoration of peace and healing wounds in the country”.

A spokesperson for the Machar-led faction was unavailable to comment.