Renegade South Sudan General George Athor, whose forces have clashed with the South Sudan army several times in the last two months, said he is coordinating further attacks against the army with two other militia leaders who are also disgruntled with the recently held elections. So far, the South has seen a handful of clashes between its army, the SPLA, and politically-motivated factions, but these have remained localized incidents.
Athor, who is supported by an unknown number of SPLA soldiers and claims the April elections were rigged, was a defeated candidate for the governor’s seat in the state of Jonglei. The two other leaders he claims he is coordinating with, David Yauyau and Colonel Galwak Gai, have also led attacks on the army, seemingly motivated by political grievances as well. Yauyau is a defeated parliamentary candidate who ran on an opposition party ticket; Gai, also an SPLA general, was angered by the re-election of incumbent Unity governor Taban Deng Gai, according to the Sudan Tribune.
Whether the three dissident leaders are really working together, or whether General Athor is seizing an opportunity to overstate his movement’s strength, is unclear. So far, attacks have been conducted separately in different locations. The most recent attack on the SPLA took place last Friday, by Gai’s forces in Unity state. According to Reuters, Gai is supported by 360 soldiers.
Much of the information about the situation on the ground has come from Reuters, which has based its reporting heavily on what Athor has said while acknowledging that his claims often cannot be verified. Regardless of whether the three leaders are coordinating their attacks, Athor’s continuing presence points to the southern government’s inability to manage internal threats and the political divisions that threaten the South, as the region approaches a potentially destabilizing vote for secession early next year.
Photo: SPLA soldiers marching (IRIN)