Over 50 SSPDF officers join Malong

Over 50 SSPDF officers join Malong
Former General Chief of Staff and the leader of SSUF/A Gen. Paul Malong in a past interview (photo credit: Citizen TV)

The South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) led by Gen. Paul Malong Awan has said 59 officers from the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the organised forces have joined its ranks.

In a statement seen by The City Review dated December 13, 2021, SSUF/A revealed that the defectors joined in two groups led by Machuil Amangdeer Machuil and James Manong Mamuor.

A group of 45 individuals led by Machuil Amnagdeer Machuil were said to have defected from the Lakes State South Sudan Defense Forces and organised forces while the second group defected from SSPDF Division one infantry with 14 officers led by James Manong Mamuor.

The statement read in part, “Our movement is proud to welcome the ‘heroic decision’ taken by our like-minded comrades from SSPDF and organised forces from Lakes State to join our mighty movement, SSUF/A. The group is headed by…Machuil Amangdeer Machuil, along with 45 well-armed and trained officers, NCOs and men.”

“On behalf of SSUF/A military leadership, allow me to update you on the gigantic news that a group of 14 officers, NCOs, and men headed by James Manong Mamuor defected from SSPDF division one infantry and they have switched allegiances to SSUF/A.”

Attempts to reach the spokesperson for the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) to comment on claims by the SSUF/A were futile.

Ready for talks

This ironic turn of events comes just after South SSUF/A disclosed last week that they were committed to the Rome talks.

This was in response to the call from President Salva Kiir for the Sant’Egidio peace talks to resume at the closing ceremony of the governors’ forum last month.

The SSUF/A deputy chief of staff for training and research, Daniel Mach, revealed that SSOMA was only waiting for the date to be communicated to head for the talks.

Mach said Real SPLM, led by Pagan Amum, was also willing to go to the talks, but the National Salvation Front (NAS), led by Thomas Cirilo, was still not willing to attend the talks.

“They do not believe the peace is legitimate. We are waiting for the official date to resume talks. The NAS (of Thomas Cirilo) has refused the talks, but our group is ready to go back to the negotiation table,” he said.

Media reports show that Paolo Impagliazzo, the Secretary-General of Sant’Egidio and the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), agreed to organize a workshop this month.

The workshop was said to prepare the ground for the resumption of negotiations in January next year.

Presidential order

Last month, President Salva Kiir called for the resumption of Sant’Egidio peace talks with the holdout group at the closing ceremony of the governors’ forum after many approached him, including Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, to prioritise the talks.

 “Many voices have appealed to us to reconsider our position and give inclusivity a chance. Because of this, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been consistently praying for South Sudan and has been appealing to me to let the Rome talks resume, ” he said.

“I will now call on the Community of Sant’Egidio to begin preparations for the resumption of the Rome talks with the holdout groups without preconditions.”

The chairperson of CTSAMVM, Teshome Gemechu Aderie, applauded the president for allowing talks to resume, saying that unconditional resumption of talks was a step towards tangible peace and an end to alleged attacks by NAS.

 “CTSAMVM greatly appreciates the decision by the government to resume the Rome peace talks’ process without preconditions, as these incidents allegedly involving NAS have negative impacts on security in some parts of the country,” Aderie said.