KAMPALA- At least 138 members of South Sudan Liberation Army in opposition who were forced to join the National Salvation Front, led by Gen Thomas Cirilo have denounced the group and defected back to the mainstream SPLA-IO.
The group led by Lt Col John Kaden Elisa was reportedly conscripted into the NAS by a senior commander of SPLA-IO, Lt Gen John Kenny Latio, when he crossed to the NAS.
Lt Col Kaden said when their commander defected, he forced them to join him and fight with the NAS. Col Kaden said instead of fighting the Juba government, they were ordered to fight the SPLA-IO, a decision which he regrets.
“On behalf of my comrades in arms and on my own behalf, I Lt Col John Kaden Elisa and 137 other comrades decided to resign from NAS effective 15/06/2018 and rejoin the SPLA-IO under the leadership of Dr Riek Machar Teny.
When Lt Gen John Kenyi Latio defected to NAS in July 2017, he forced us and conscripted others to join him and fight for NAS under Gen Thomas Cirillo. However, we ended up fighting against the SPLA-IO instead of the regime in Juba as it happened in Kajo Keji and many other places.”
He said their decision to join the SPLA-IO was not through coercion, but willingly, claiming that they were instead ordered by Lt Gen Kenyi to join the National Salvation Front.
He also said those who defected were promised logistics to fight the Juba regime, but to date nothing has been delivered, but instead ordered to attack SPLA-IO position to get arms and support from willing people in diaspora.
“When we joined the SPLA-IO in 2014, it was out of our free will not force; this was however, not the case with NAS where we were forced to join by Gen Kenyi being the sector commander.
We were also deceived that Gen Cirillo would supply us with logistics to fight the regime in juba. Up to now nothing has so far happened in that line, NAS forces are entirely depending on attacking SPLA-IO positions and support from some well-wishers in diaspora,” he said.
“The above reasons and many others not mentioned here made us resign and rejoin the SPLA-IO so that lasting peace and freedom is achieved in South Sudan for all South Sudanese. The struggle continues.”
SPLA-IO has welcomed the group, saying they will incorporate them to fight the oppressive regime in South Sudan. Lt Col Paul Gabriel Lam, the deputy spokesperson said this is a big boost to the SPLA-IO and a testimony that they are united.
“The SPLA-IO this evening (June 15), would like to welcome back Lt Col John Kaden Elisa and 137 comrades who were forced to join NAS last year 2017. The resistance continues. Viva SPLA-IO Viva Dr Riek Machar Teny Victory is certain,” he said.