Rival factions undermining S. Sudan peace efforts: SPLM-IO

JUBA – A member of South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) has decried the ongoing rivalry among the country’s various ruling party factions, saying it was giving the Juba government an advantage to continue remaining in power.

The armed opposition’s deputy spokesman, Lam Paul Gabriel on Saturday claimed the National Salvation Front (NAS) forces loyal to Gen. Thomas Cirilo have been attacking their forces instead of working together to achieve aims for which they all took up arms.

“The forces NAS under the command of Gen. Peter Yugu in Lobonok, who pledged allegiance to NAS, executed 03 SPLA IO soldiers hailing from Eastern Equatoria in Ayii Payam. 1st Lt. Onek Peter Pio survived NAS forces attack. He hails from Hiyala county of the Imatong state where 16 others from eastern Equatoria and some from other regions, mainly SPLA-IO members of ethnic Nuer were killed,” Lam said in a statement in extended to Sudan Tribune.

He added, “The soldiers who lost their lives were staying among their colleagues in Lobonok peacefully until General Thomas defected and formed his movement when life started changing”.

Nine armed opposition members were reportedly arrested and taken to unknown locations, but their fate remained unknown.

“On 1st September, four other colleagues were again arrested, but later decided to escape to Eastern Equatoria but were pursued and attacked by NAS forces on the way around Kit, resulting in the death of three colleagues,” further noted the statement.

Lam, however, urged their forces and intelligence officers to be on high alert, claiming they could face attacks from the other factions.

“The SPLA IO forces around Southern bari, in Kajo keji, Imotong and Wonduruba are being warned to be vigilant of imminent attack from NAS forces. It’s crystal clear that NAS has no any intention to fight Juba regime since they received reinforcements from Juba government with the objective to attack IO bases and eliminate its members according to our intelligence”, he further observed.

Meanwhile, the governor of Imatong state, General Oyet Nathaniel condemned the “targeted” killings of officers and men hailing from Imatong state and other nationalities of South Sudan.

“This is not the first time it [the attack] happened. About a month ago, Col. Laku Emmanuel Joko also killed five sons of Imatong and two Nuer, all SPLA-IO soldiers after switching allegiance from Machar’s side to Cirillo’s faction,” said Oyet.

The accusation comes barely a week after President Salva Kiir extended amnesty to Cirillo, the former army chief of logistics who quit the military to form a rebel movement against the government. He, however, declined President Kiir’s amnesty offer.

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