A former South Sudanese army general who quit the army last month has announced that he has formed a new rebel group that is aiming to wrestle power from the incumbent Salva Kiir.
According to Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, who until his resignation was deputy head of logistics in the army, the only way to reclaim the tarnished image of the war-torn country was for Kiir to leave the presidency.
In a statement on Monday, Swaka said his new rebel group, The National Salvation Front (NSF) “is convinced that to restore sanity and normalcy in our country, Kiir must go; he must vacate office.” NSF would “fight to eradicate the malady that has badly tarnished the image of South Sudan,” he said.
Sawka and two other high-ranking officials left the army amid accusations of tribalism, nepotism, corruption and other abuses levelled against Kiir’s government. He sepecifically resigned after he accused Kiir of turning the country’s military into a “tribal army.”
He alleged that the military, police and other security branches were heavily recruited from among the Dinka, Kiir’s tribe.
South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation, was plunged into its first war in 2013 after Kiir sacked his then deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. The ensuing two-year conflict was ended by a peace pact in 2015 and Machar, who had left the capital Juba at the start of the war, returned in April last year and was handed the same position.
A new round of armed confrontation by forces loyal to both men started in July 2016 kicking off the latest wave of fighting that has spread to several parts of the country since.
Famine has been declared in parts of the oil producing country. There is also a national dialogue team working to reconcile factions in the standoff.
Others to have resigned their positions include the head of the country’s military justice, Col. Khalid Ono Loki and labour minister Gabriel Duop who also announced his resignation and full allegiance to former vice-president Riek Machar whose troops have been battling with government forces.
More than one million people have fled South Sudan since the conflict erupted in December 2013 after Kiir fired Machar as vice president, the largest mass exodus of any conflict in central Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.