Addis Ababa, September 13, 2014 (SSNA) — Air Force military officers and Engineers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to South Sudanese president salva kiir Mayardiit have joined the rebels, saying their decision to join the SPLM/A-in Opposition is a result of lack of diversity in the army.
The officers also accused South Sudan’s government of tribalism.
In a press conference held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the defected personnel explained some of the reasons why they decided to leave the government’s side.
“…training opportunities for South Sudanese joining the Air Force does not reflect diversity; for instance, the first batch comprised of 32 pilots, 21 of which were from Dinka tribe, the remaining 63 tribes were represented by just 11 pilots”, the statement reads in part.
“…poor promotion policy: Officers who joined the Air Force in 2007 have never been promoted and in some situations, promotions are based on ethnicity, and Poor maintenance and services police, up to two-thirds of the fleet is grounded due to corrupt practices by successive Air Force Commanders who would misappropriate funds meant for maintenance and services”, the statement added.
The names of the defected personnel are:
1. 1st Lt. Tut Jock Bov, Chief Air Force, Ground Engineer
2. 1st Lt. Pito Adwok Nyaba, Fixed Wing Pilot
3. Sgt. Ocholla Joseph, Flight Engineer
4. Pvt. Khan David Bidit, MI-17 Helicopter Pilot
5. Pvt. Liech Domach Ruei, Air Traffic Controller
6. Mr. Riang Ruei Duop, Senior Manager, South Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority
The Director of Military Information and Military Spokesman for the SPLA-in Opposition, Federal Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, praised the newly arrived officers. Koang declares that their defection will help reinforce the establishment of Air Force in the rebels’ controlled areas and counter the Ugandan air power.
“These are some of the best trained air servicemen; some of whom received training in South Africa, Ethiopia, Russia and the United States of America. Their defection to SPLA (Opposition) is a major blow to Juba. Their presence in the resistance movement will facilitate establishment of Air Force in liberated areas as well as help in countering UPDF’s Air force which had dominated the skies of South Sudan since the Civil War broke out on 15th December 2013”, Koang said in the statement seen by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).
The deserted SPLA personnel also said that the government of South Sudan used Air Force to transport Militias and SPLA regular soldiers who participated in the killing of innocent civilians in Juba late last year.