On September 27, 2016, a new rebel movement formerly allied to David Yau Yau – and calling itself the Cobra faction – defected from the South Sudanese government. Led by General Khalid Boutros, a former deputy to Yau Yau, the group has declared war against the government. It stated that the government had repeatedly violated the Greater Pibor Administrative Area peace agreement signed in 2014, forcing the group to resume fighting. General Boutros was quoted on Sudan Tribune saying, “We are actually forced to fight, we signed a peace agreement, but the government violated the agreement, so we are forced to fight.”
The defection of the Cobra faction follows the formation of a new rebel group, The National Democratic Movement, this past weekend. Led by South Sudan’s former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, the group articulated its purpose in this statement sent to the Sudan Tribune: “The National Democratic Movement was born to wage the struggle, together with others in the field, against the totalitarian, corrupt and ethnocentric regime in Juba that is bent on dragging our country into the abyss.”
Lam Akol resigned from the Democratic Change Party and all his leadership positions including the chairmanship of his party and his ministerial role on August 1, 2016. At the time of his resignation, Akol stated that there was “no more peace agreement to implement in Juba.” In an interview with Radio Tamazuj on Monday, Akol said he had worked through peaceful means but the repeated violation of the peace agreement showed that the South Sudanese government was bent on war.
The entry of Lam Akol’s National Democratic Movement brings the number of armed groups fighting the government of South Sudan to eight. This includes: Riek Machar’s SPLM-in Opposition (SPLM-IO), John Ivo's Maban Defense Force, General Khalid Boutros’ Cobra/South Sudan Democratic Movement, and armed groups in Central Equatoria, Eastern Eastern, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr-el Ghazal who claim allegiance to the SPLM-IO.