South Su­dan com­man­der joins rebels

Blow to Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir as Lieu­tenant Colonel Chan Garang de­fects with 200 troops

Business Daily (Kenya) - - REGIONAL BUSINESS - Over the week­end Kiir’s troops sur­rounded Ma­long’s house and un­suc­cess­fully tried to dis­arm his body­guards

A South Su­danese mil­i­tary com­man­der said he had de­fected with more than 200 sol­diers to the coun­try’s largest rebel group, amid a show­down be­tween Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir and his for­mer mil­i­tary chief.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Chan Garang, an ally of for­mer army chief Paul Ma­long, de­fected to join the largest rebel group Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment-in-op­po­si­tion led by for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Riek Machar. Both men and the pres­i­dent are eth­nic Dinkas and any split within the pow­er­ful group could rep­re­sent a threat to Kiir. Machar’s tribe is Nuer. The four-year civil war has split the coun­try into a patch­work of fief­doms, cre­ated Africa’s big­gest refugee cri­sis in two decades and led to eth­nic cleans­ing. A third of the 12 mil­lion-strong pop­u­la­tion has fled their homes and half are de­pen­dent on food aid.

In May, Kiir fired Ma­long, whom UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors ac­cused of di­rect­ing eth­nic mili­tias re­spon­si­ble for the rape, tor­ture and mur­der of civil­ians. Ma­long, who is also on a US sanc­tions list, briefly fled north but re­turned to the cap­i­tal, where he has been un­der house ar­rest ever since. Over the week­end, Kiir’s troops sur- rounded Ma­long’s house in Juba and un­suc­cess­fully at­tempted to dis­arm his body­guards.

An armed stand­off con­tin­ues out­side his house. Garang is the first Ma­long loy­al­ist to join the rebels. Garang said he de­fected be­cause al­lies of Ma­long were be­ing badly treated, troops had not been paid for seven months and other tribes were be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against. “I left Juba be­cause when you are a sup­porter of Ma­long you will be ar­rested,” Garang told Reuters via satel­lite phone.

“We are prepar­ing our army so that we can launch an at­tack on Juba. Salva Kiir di­vided the tribes so we need him to go.”

Garang told Reuters he took more than 200 sol­diers with him, although a rebel press re­lease put the num­ber at 150. A photo pro­vided by the rebels showed more than 30 armed men but their iden­ti­ties were un­clear. Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said they were not aware of any de­fec­tion from their ranks.

AFP

IN­SE­CU­RITY South Su­dan rebel sol­diers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.