A number of government officials from Central Equatoria State have joined the insurgency against the South Sudanese government following the breakdown of peace implementation last July when fighting broke out in the national capital.
SPLM-IO officials say that the peace agreement has collapsed and that the Equatorian officials joined the movement after falling out with the Salva Kiir regime in Juba.
The defectors include Central Equatoria parliamentarian Abdu Rabi Mekki, who is reported to have joined on 1 August, together with Peter Wani Ellia, the former deputy commissioner who was also the former office manager of the former governor of Central Equatoria Clement Wani Konga.
Another more senior official, the deputy governor of Yei River State, has also joined the SPLM-IO, according to Kenyi Bennet, SPLM-IO spokesman in Central Equatoria, but this has not yet been independently confirmed.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Kenyi said that said Abraham Wani the deputy governor of Yei River State announced his defection to the armed opposition last Sunday. He pointed out that the deputy governor is now with the armed opposition forces in Equatoria.
Meanwhile, Lul Ruai, spokesperson for the SPLA declined to comment on the news.
The defected politicians are reportedly urging the people of South Sudan to join SPLM-IO, saying that South Sudan will never be stable under the current government.
South Sudan’s government says that it is committed to implementing the August 2015 peace agreement. On Sunday the government announced its “readiness” to establish the hybrid court to try war criminals, after the African Union bring proposals on how to set up the court.
The peace agreement also includes provisions for power-sharing, demilitarization of Juba, a peace and reconciliation process, and reunification and demobilization of the SPLA and SPLA-IO forces, but there has been limited progress in implementation of the agreement in these areas.