November 1, 2015 (JUBA) – The leader South Sudan’s new rebel group said his forces would lay down weapons and accept negotiations if president Salva Kiir and his government cancelled the establishment order expanding the current 10 states to 28, despite signing a peace deal to end over 20 months of conflict with the armed opposition.
- Rebel fighters protect civilians from the Nuer ethnic group (not seen) walk through flooded areas to reach a camp in UNMISS base in Bentiu, Sept. 20, 2014 (Photo AP/Matthew Abbott)
“The desire of the people of South Sudan is peace but the desire of the president and his group is totally different. They are preaching war instead of peace and their actions speak much about their intentions. He [ Kiir] has the lost control over the current situation,” General Yoanes Okij said Sunday.
“This certainly will be a wake-up call for the international community and the region which mediated the settlement of the conflict. Conflicts like this are not going to be localised; it’s not going to be in Chollo land alone. It will be extended because the people of South Sudan were not consulted”, he added.
The rebel leader told Sudan Tribune some of their demands were for the South Sudanese leader and his government to cancel the establishment order and form a border demarcation committee to delineate community boundaries.
“The agreement is very clear. It spells out clear what should be done and when. The agreement does not talk about creation of more states. It talks about implementation which should now be the priority but Salva Kiir and his group of the Dinka council of elders are derailing and frustrating the implementation. For them they want the country to continue to be at war even though they know war is a fatal project. Nobody likes it,” said Okij
The oppressed have always gone for it as a last resort. It is never a pleasurable choice but only when other ideal means is exhausted”, further explained the rebel leader.
Okij said the South Sudanese leader and his government must implement the agreement, cancel the establishment order and form community border demarcation committee in accordance with the 1956 boundaries with neighbouring Sudan from which South Sudan seceded in July 2011, if they were to lay down their weapons.
A group calling itself Tiger Faction New Forces (TFNF) announced in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune last Friday that they had decided to take up arms to fight the government of President Kiir until he reverses the order on creating 28 new states.
“The un-constitutional Presidential Order decree by Kiir has left us with no choice but to wage a protracted armed struggle against his government and the corrupt clique in Juba,” said the TFNF’s Okij who identified himself as the rebel’s commander in chief.
He vowed to fight the government in Juba until President Kiir revoked decree 36/2015.
The group, which is predominantly composed of ethnic Shilluk members, charged that the order was a desperate attempt to derail and frustrate the implementation of the peace agreement reached last August.
The statement said the new territorial administrative division was a “flagrant violation” of the constitution particularly articles 55 (3), 59 (a), 86 (1) 85 (2) and 86 (5), 162 (1), (2), (3) and 101 (f).
The new rebel group accused President Kiir of allegedly attempting to give the Chollo (Shilluk) land to the Dinka, threatening the national security of South Sudan, further warning that the order opened the door for conflict and Balkanization of the country.
“The establishment order adversely affected the tribal territorial boundaries of people of South Sudan including, the Chollo Kingdom. One of its ramifications is the division of Chollo kingdom into two parts with some in one state west of the Nile and others east of the Nile. The overall objective of such division is to ensure tribal domination of others tribes including Chollo in the newly established Dinka’s states,” noted the statement.
The new rebellion, if confirmed, may threaten the ongoing efforts to implement the security arrangements specially in the South Sudan’s oil-rich Upper Nile state.
In July this year, another Shilluk group commanded by Major General Johnson Olony, merged with the SPLM-IO opting for a national agenda instead of tribal claims.