General Dau Aturjong, a senior military officer in the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the first vice-president, Riek Machar, has defected to SPLA loyal to President Salva Kiir.
General Dau Aturjong Nyuol, who has been the deputy chief of staff for training of the SPLA-In Opposition, was also the highest ranking Dinka general in the armed opposition.
The defection was confirmed Sunday evening by Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak.
“General Dau Aturjong has defected alone to his former foe, General Paul Malong Awan,” Dak said.
“Actually he has no troops in Juba or anywhere in South Sudan. He had never fought war when he was with us for two years.”
Dak described Aturjong as a frustrated officer because he controls nobody.
His junior officers from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state accused him in his presence in Pagak conference of October 2015 of sabotaging the operations of the SPLA-IO in Northern Bahr Ghazal state.
He actually contributed nothing in the SPLM/SPLA (IO).
“We pity him for joining a sinking boat of President Salva Kiir. I hope he will not regret his decision,” Dak said.
In May 2016, General Aturjong dismissed as “lies” claims that a number of officers had defected from his forces in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
General Aturjong, the former commander of the SPLA-IO forces in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, was responding to media reports that the group allegedly led by a certain Colonel James Deng Mayar has defected from him and formed a new faction.
Aturjong said he never knew James Mayar Deng and that he had never been one of his officers.
The group that claimed defection, according to Mayar, decided to join rank with Brigadier General Agany Ayiii, one of the government officers who changed allegiance and joined General Peter Gatdet Yak, a senior rebel commander who defected from the opposition faction under the leadership Machar.
Yak and several officers, some of whom have already returned to the country under separate arrangements, rejected the peace agreement signed by the government and the armed opposition in August last year.