Juba, January 21, 2019 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), is divided over a request by the government to involve the armed opposition in its operation against the National Salvation Front (NAS), a high-ranking rebel official who talked exclusively to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) said on Monday.
The revelation comes less than a week after the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) declared the NAS as “threat” to peace and threatening to launch a joint military operation against its forces if it refuses to be part of the ongoing peace process.
The official, who only agreed to the interview on condition of anonymity, explained how “internal divisions” among some SPLM-IO officials create problems behind scenes and that the “infighting” is caused by the government. The rebel figure also asserts the leadership of the armed opposition is “silently trying to calm things down” for fear the issue could damage its reputation in the eyes of its supporters.
“You know the cause of these internal divisions was caused by the announcement that was announced by Jok Riak Makol of SSPDF and Koang Chuol Ranley of SPLM-IO,” the visibly furious rebel official told the SSNA in Juba.
“I know the leadership is working hard on this even though they are doing it silently trying to calm things down,” added.
In the interview, the official further explained the ongoing infighting within the movement will be solved and suggests the SPLM-IO first know its interests before government ones.
“We will be Okay. This issue will be solved. But what I think we should do as a political party is to know our own interests, not those of the government. I am confident this matter will be resolved,” he assured.
Early last week, the SPLA-IO and SSPDF held a joint news conference, calling for NAS leader Thomas Cirillo to accept the September 2018 peace agreement or face military action. The two main parties to the pact also accused the National Salvation Front of looting property, raping women, and displacing civilians. The NAS called the accusations “rubbish” and vowed to respond if “such a threatening language” is implemented by the SSPDF and the SPLA-IO.
An internationally acclaimed expert recently said that South Sudan’s peace has little chance of succeeding and warned that military confrontation with the NAS could cause a wide-spread war in the country.
The South Sudan News Agency was also told by the source that five powerful SPLA-IO military leaders strongly oppose any attempt by the rebel leadership to allow the armed opposition troops to fight alongside government forces against the NAS.