Top Murle general defects to Cobra Faction with troops

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More than 5,000 Murle soldiers under command Gen. John Welarum in South Sudan’s Boma State defected from the SPLA army and joined the SSDM-Cobra Faction led by Khalid Boutros on Thursday, a top general said.

The defected force was initially part of the SPLA-IO faction led by former vice president Riek Machar, but joined Kiir government after reaching an agreement with Governor Baba Medan in Boma State.

Khalid Onuloki, deputy head of the SSDM-Cobra Faction, told Radio Tamazuj yesterday that Gen. Welarum defected from the government together with about 5,000 troops and joined the SSDM-Cobra Faction that declared war against Kiir government recently.

“So after the force knew that the government dishonoured some agreements, they joined the call by the SSDM-Cobra Faction, and this force of 5,000 will be part of Cobra Faction,” said Khalid.

For his part, Baba Medan Konyi, Governor of Boma State, confirmed the defection of Gen. John Welarum from his government in the state.

Governor Medan told Radio Tamazuj that Gen. John Welarum decided to rebel against the government and joined the SSDM-Faction led by Khalid Boutros.

However, Medan said that John’s defection will not cause any security fears in the state, saying he defected together with eight soldiers only, while disputing reports that the Murle general defected together with over 5,000 troops.

“Honestly, the situation is under control, the situation is under control, Welarum defected alone, he defected alone, even his forces remained under the command of Baba Kaku,” said Medan.

“So Gen. Baba Kaku is the one in charge of the SPLA-IO force in Boma now, and that force has already joined the government, and Welirum left together with eight soldiers only,” he added.