Former Murle Cobra leader meets President Kiir over new rebellion

September 28, 2016 (JUBA) – Deputy Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs and former leader of Murle armed Cobra Faction, David Yau Yau, has met President Salva Kiir in Juba on Wednesday, a day after his deputy declared resumption of armed rebellion against the government.

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Members of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A) faction march in Gumuruk on 13 May 2014 after their leader, David Yau Yau, signed a peace deal with the South Sudanese government on 9 May 2014 in Addis Ababa (Photo: AFP/Samir Bol)

General Yau Yau, who was appointed deputy minister of defence in April after joining the ruling SPLM party in January and left his South Sudan Democratic Movement/Cobra (SSDM/Cobra) faction which he formed after losing in local elections in 2010, said he was still loyal to the president although his former deputy has defected with their forces.

Yau Yau said the meeting with President Kiir was an assurance of his loyalty.

“I came with all Murle elders to inform His Excellence the President that we have not defected from him. Those people who left are just individuals and do not represent us,” he told reporters after meeting in the State House, known as J1.

Yau Yau’s former deputy, Lieutenant General, Khalid Botrus Bora, has announced his defection from the government of President Kiir on Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya. Botrus accused the government of failing to honour the provisions of May 2014 agreement that promised appointment of a presidential advisor for SSDM/Cobra and administering of Pibor county.

Pibor is currently a state called Boma but SPLM governor, Baba Medan Konyi, was appointed to head it in December. Yauyau previously led the Greater Pibor Administrative Area from 2014 to December 2015 before it was upgraded to a state.

Yauyau did not give details of the meeting but observers say it is a show of loyalty to President Kiir who is facing numerous rebellions against his government.

DIALOGUE WITH DEFECTORS

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s government under the leadership of President Kiir has slammed the defection, saying there is need to dialogue with the defected officers and forces of the Murle ethnic group. They also asserted that the issues behind the decision could have been addressed through peaceful dialogue.

Acting government spokesman, Akol Paul Kordit, told reporters on Wednesday that the reasons cited in the press statement by the defected commanders of the Cobra faction could have been addressed through peaceful dialogue instead of taking up arms to wage a destructive war against innocent people.

“We just learnt this development in the media where we obtained their statement but the things they raised, like the issue of presidential advisor and the construction of the roads do not need a rationale person to take up arms to kill people and destroy properties. These are things which could be addressed through peaceful dialogue. They do not need taking up arms and go to the bush,” Kordit told reporters, saying the government was ready to talk to the defected commanders.

The official claimed more than 80% of the agreement has been implemented. He cited the creation of the greater Pibor Administrative Area, detachment of the area from Jonglei state and attached to the office of the president with the status of a state and the subsequent appointment of the chief administrator.

The creation of the 7 counties was one of the provisions which he said had been successfully implemented in accordance with the provisions of the agreement.

Another area where the agreement has been honoured and successfully implemented, Kordit further claimed, was in the area of integration and promotion of the three commanders to the rank of lieutenant generals and 5 major generals and several brigadiers and colonels into the ranks and files of the Sudan People’s Liberation army (SPLA).

He was reacting to the statement announcing defection of the top commanders in the Cobra Faction in which they accused the government under President Kiir to have not honoured key provisions.

Signed by General Khalid Boutros, the statement called for joining efforts with other armed opposition groups, probably the SPLA-IO under the leadership of former First Vice President, Riek Machar, to remove the government of president Kiir from power and to rebuild the nation.

“By this statement, the SSDM/A is announcing that it shall from today join the struggle against the authoritarian tribalistic regime in Juba,” the statement seen by Sudan Tribune reads in part.

“Being conscious of the need to unify the ranks of all the forces opposed to the regime, SSDMA/Cobra shall immediately enter into serious dialogue with the like-minded patriotic forces already in the field of combat with the aim of cooperation, coordination or merger. Any dispersion of efforts shall only serve this ruthless regime and should not be allowed,” said General Boutros.

He called on the people, especially his ethnic Murle, to take up arms to wage a popular struggle to restore peace and unity of South Sudan.

“We call upon all the masses of our people to close ranks behind the struggle to rid themselves of a regime characterized by oppression, tribalism, corruption and anarchy to install instead a national democratic state that addresses the twin issues of national-building and state-building,” the statement said.

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