September 24th 2019 (Nyamilepedia)-South Sudan’s main armed opposition group has downplayed the recent defection of its senior military officer, Major General Ochan Puot Buop, who switched allegiance to South Sudan government on September 22 after months of deep rifts between his armed group and Machar’s armed forces in Adar state.
In a statement seen by Nyamilepedia, the SPLM (IO) Director for Information and Public Relations, Puok Both Baluang asserted that the defection of the SPLM/A-IO’s top commander to South Sudan government during this implementation of the peace agreement is another counter-insurgency strategy.
“On the Defection of General James Ochan Puot to the Government of South Sudan In reference to the above, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) would like to confirm to its members and the public at large the defection of Gen James Puot Ochan to the government South Sudan. We wish also to categorically refute the false information and baseless allegations made by General James Ochan Puot about H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) and the People’s Movement in general, in his statement dated 22 September 2019.”
The SPLM/A (IO) leadership said that any attack on opposition troops by James Ochan’s forces would be treated as a violation of the peace deal by the SSPDF forces.
“The SPLM/SPLA (IO), therefore, reserves the right to natural self defense since Gen. James Ochan Puot has declared to be part of the government. The People’s Movement will thereby consider any attack by his forces as an attack by the SSPDF.”
South Sudan’s government and various opposition groups signed a peace deal in September last year in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, aimed at ending hostilities and military confrontations.