Defection of General Peter Gadet is a South Sudan army
By Ngor Arol Garang
March 27, 2011 (WAU) –
South Sudan’s army (SPLA) was not able to confirm on Sunday reports and
allegations suggesting that Major General Peter Gadet Yak, had broke away to
form a rebellion against the southern government.
- Maj. Gen Peter Gadet
addresses troops in Abyei. 4 June 2008 (Reuters)
The SPLA was the military wing of the
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) during the South’s second
civil war (1983-2005). However since the signing of the 2005 peace agreement
it is now the South Sudan official army.
As the region approaches full
independence in July following a referendum earlier this year the South
is increasingly troubled by armed rebellions, some of which are by former
members of the SPLA.
The army’s spokesman, Colonel Philip Aguer Panyang, in an interview with
Sudan Tribune from Juba on Sunday said reports that Gadet had started
a new rebellion were only rumours.
"Yes, we have heard of these allegations. We are told he is in Khartoum
but we do not know what he is doing there. We cannot confirm anything now.
They remain rumors."
military spokesman said Gadet had received official permission to visit
Nairobi but had instead travelled to Sudan’s capital. He said they do not
know what caused his change of itinerary and believe he is still in
Attempts to reach him by phone after the rumours emerged had failed,
Aguer said on Sunday.
This comes a week after former southern presidential advisor, Abdel Bagi
Ayii Akol Agany, announced the launch of a rebellion against the government
of South Sudan, accusing President Salva Kiir of constantly refusing to
listen to him on issues of common interest. He also demanded 30 percent
representation for Muslims in South Sudan’s government and formation of an
equitable power sharing government with other political parties.
In January the South voted overwhelmingly in a plebiscite, agreed to in a
2005 peace with Khartoum, to secede from the north. The oil-producing region
is already home to rebel groups formed by disgruntled SPLA members and
civilians after lasts year’s
2010 April elections.
Fighting between the rebellions and the SPLA has killed hundreds since
the referendum results in February despite attempts at peaceful
negotiations. Both the SPLA and militias have been accused of killing
Although initially formed out of localized grievances three of the rebel
groups now in the South now appear to be operating under the loose umbrella
of former SPLA General George Athor, who took to the bush 30 April 2010
after he failed to win the governorship of the volatile Jonglei state.
Athor is the most senior of the rebels having been close to the SPLM/A’s
late chairman, John Garang, operating as a zonal commander during the civil
war and at one point being a minister in the southern government.
Forced to contest the gubernatorial race for Jonglei State as an
independent after failing to secure approval of his candidature by the SPLM
political bureau, the highest organ in the SPLM, Athor claimed that the vote
was rigged against him.
His main rival, incumbent Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk, was re-elected and
since then there have been repeated clashes between armed elements
apparently loyal to him and the SPLA in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile.
The motives behind the other rebellions differ and it is not clear the
extent of coordination between the groups.
In Unity state the rebellion of Gatluk Gai was, like Athor, triggered by
the 2010 election results. Gai is a supporter of failed Unity state
gubernatorial candidate Angelina Teny, the wife of Sudan’s Vice President
Also in Jonglei state, David Yauyau, who was not SPLA, started his
rebellion after the election but this has been attributed to the internal
politics of the Murle tribe as well as his failure to win a seat as a local
In Upper Nile, a leader known so far only as Oliny, launched an attack on
the town of Malakal in March. He is also claimed to be in collusion with
Athor. Although the SPLA and senior SPLM figure Pagan Amum have alleged that
Oliny is aligned to southern opposition leader Lam Akol who heads
SPLM-DC, the largest opposition group in the southern parliament.
Akol, a former foreign minister of Sudan, who split from the SPLM in 2009
says he will take Amum to court over the allegation that SPLM-DC is
affiliated to any armed group.
In 1991 at the height of the civil war Akol and Gadet split from the SPLA
along with Riek Machar, now the South’s deputy leader. The attempt to
wrestle power from John Garang failed with only generals from Machar’s Nuer
ethnic group joining the breakaway group with notable exceptions such as
Akol who is from the Shilluk tribe in Upper Nile.
Machar, Akol and Gadet all received support from Khartoum during what
became known as “the split”, causing tribal and political fault lines that
still remain, in many ways, 20 years on.
Akol and Machar both rejoined the SPLA ahead of the 2005 peace agreement
but Gadet remained outside the movement until after the Juba Declaration of
2006 that required all other armed groups in South Sudan to either join the
In 2007 Gadet, joined other military figures on the pay role of US
private investment group
Jarch Management which claim rights over oil concessions in a large area
of southern Sudan.
In the cases of all the recent rebellions the SPLM accuses Khartoum of
supporting the rebels, despite the local causes of the conflicts, which
despite their number are relatively localized.
"The government in Khartoum is behind all these uprisings and skirmishes
in the south. They are the ones financing and arming all these activities
through militia", said Bol Makueng, the SPLM Secretary for information,
culture and communications, told Sudan Tribune from Juba on Sunday.
"They do not need the south to go. They have tried it several times
including attempts to buy votes from south Sudanese during referendum
without success .They unsuccessfully tried it but still they did not give it
up completely. They are trying day and night", said Makueng, before adding
they have shifted strategies to internal rebellions.
National Congress Party has shifted strategies aimed at keeping Sudan
united to internal rebellions. They are the ones supporting all these
internal rebellion in Jonglei, Unity and more recently fighting which broke
out Malakal town, capital of Upper Nile State. All these are tactics from
the National Congress Party meant to show the world that south Sudanese are
not capable of managing their own affairs through disgruntled individuals in
the south", said Makueng.