A senior official of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) led by the former Sudanese foreign minister, Lam Akol, has defected to the rebel opposition faction led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar.

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Rebel fighters greet one another at a rebel camp in South Sudan’s Jonglei state on 1 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Diing Garang Diing, head of SPLM-DC office in Aweil, capital of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, declared his defection to the SPLM-IO on Monday.

He told SudanTribune from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state that he defected with 200 armed youth from the home state. The official joined the rebel forces commanded by Major General Dau Aturjong, state force commander who also doubles as deputy chief of general staff in the military leadership of the SPLA-IO.

SPLM-IO’s chairman for external relations, Dhieu Mathok, confirmed the defection of the official.

Mathok said the defected official couldn’t go to Addis Ababa to meet the SPLM/SPLA chairman, Riek Machar, but went straight to the bush to join the freedom fighters in the state.

“Instead of going to Addis [Ababa] to meet the leadership, Diing with other 200 armed youths went directly and joined Major General Dau Aturjong in the bushes of Northern Bahr el Ghazal,” he said on Monday.

He added that Machar had congratulated the defected official for his “courageous decision” to join the rebel movement.

Diing led SPLM-DC office in Northern Bahr el Ghazal since 2008. He was arrested in 2010 by state government operatives during the elections and detained for six months at a Military Intelligence (MI) prison at Wanyiik military barrack.

He however escaped and joined a rebel movement led by late George Athor where he became a Brigadier General. When Athor was killed and president Salva Kiir issued an amnesty for his forces, Diing returned to the government and resumed his position as head of SPLM-DC in Aweil until this week.

The rebel forces he joined commanded by Aturjong have been preparing to launch armed resistance against pro-government forces in the state.

The leadership of SPLM-IO however said they were committed to the peaceful resolution of the 15-month long war.

In his last week’s Easter season message which he issued on Friday, 3 April, the opposition leader, Riek Machar, assured the people of South Sudan of his leadership’s commitment to restore peace to the country and wished that peace prevailed during Easter.

“On behalf of the SPLM/SPLA, I wish to congratulate all South Sudanese people, wherever you are, on this Easter season,” Machar said in his Easter message.

“It has been our wish that peace would prevail in our country during this Easter. However, we are still hopeful that peace come soon,” he said.