By Bonifacio Taban Coach
July 25, 2011 (BENTIU) – The second in command in the rebel group, the South Sudan Liberation Army, Marko Chuol Ruei, has claimed responsibility for the death of his commander, Gatluak Gai and confirmed that he was ordered by Taban Deng Gai
Gai was killed on Saturday in Pakur, Koch county, Unity state after successful peace talks with the SPLA on 18 July. However, SPLA forces in the area were accused of his death despite the repeated denials.
In an interview on Benitu Radio 24 July, Ruei, Gai admitted that he killed Gatluak and accused the latter of instructing his combatants on 22 July to dishonour the peace agreement and refuse integration into the SPLA,
Gatluak had ordered his troops to join forces from North Sudan to attack South Sudan, Ruei asserted.
He also claimed he was joined by other high-ranking rebel officers who did not want to return to conflict and therefore established a coup.
“Gatluak Gai should blame himself for his death,” said Ruei.
The SPLA spokesperson Phillip Aguer last Saturday denied any involvement in Gatluak’s death and accused his deputy Marko Chuol Ruei for killing the former rebel leader after disagreement within the rebel camp.
The SPLA official further said that on Saturday morning clashed erupted between five senior commanders led by Marko Chuol Ruei and Gatluak’s loyal forces when the former went to convince their leader to commit himself to the signed peace deal. Gatluak plus three others were killed during the fighting.
There have long been allegations that the Khartoum government has supported rebel groups operating in South Sudan. Ruei claims the SSLA had been in contact with Khartoum regarding the supply of munitions. However, this assistance was contingent on the SSLA joining forces with other militias headed by Peter Gadet and Bapiny Monytuel.
The SSLA localised rebellion began after Teny, the wife of South Sudan vice president Riek Machar beat Taban Deng Gai to the gubernatorial seat in Bentiu in April 2010. It is believed that Gatluak Gai wanted a county commisionership under Taban Deng Gai.