Over 40 rebels surrender in Yambio
Fifty rebels loyal to former First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar have surrendered to the government in Gbudue state last week.
The 50 soldiers joined their colleagues who had earlier on surrendered to the government during the start of the year in Yambio. Since November 2016 over 1050 rebels loyal to Dr. Riek Machar have surrendered to the government in Gbudue state, the governor Daniel Badagbu said on Friday.
Governor Badagbu said the rebels are coming home to join his government since his government is pursuing a non-violence approach to get back the rebels to dialogue with both the state and national governments.
“We believe that South Sudanese must have their home grown solution to solve their problems,” he said. “We are set to bring peace to our people, and to our country, and that peace should be having a root in us as South Sudanese.”
He said the state will do anything to ensure the rebels come back home and dialogue with the government. The governor said the dialogue between the state and the rebels is being mediated by the Inter-Faith Council which is engaging the rebels to dialogue with the government.
Since the dialogue started last year, it has led to the signing of peace agreement between the government and the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and Army (SSNLMA), which has ensured relative peace in the area where they used to operate.
Gbadabu said over 2,700 soldiers of the SSNLMA have also surrendered to the state government since November 2016. The soldiers have been trained and are waiting integration in to the national army.
Brigadier Paul Roman the commander of the over 1,050 defected rebels who are temporarily settled next to freedom square in Yambio said, they decided to desert the rebellion and join the government because “war cannot solve the grievances of everybody in the country”.
“By war you can never achieve what you want,” he said. “If the government has accepted to address your issues, then what are you fighting for?”
Some of the soldiers defected because they have been promised ranks after integration in to the national army. “What we went for was to claim our rights; we did not have equal powers in the army. The president granted us the right we were fighting for so we could not continue fighting,” Romano said.
He said, the government should identify the interest of the people and act upon them to solve the problems facing the citizens.
Romano noted that there should be building of trust between the citizens and the government so that there can be total peace.
Governor said the state is now re-integrating those who were abducted and recruited by force, into the rebel movements. He said they now want to go back to their civilian lives.
He said some of the rebels joined the rebellion because they felt they were not represented enough in the national army, and many of the generals in the army are not from their community.
For Lieutenant colonel Leila Benjamin Al-haj, the life in the bush cannot help. “I came out so that we can talk and solve our problems peacefully,” she said.
Leila said the rebels should come out and engage in dialogue with the government because continuous war destroys the country.
Even though the defected soldiers are being camped separately in the state, the state government is facing challenges of catering for them in terms of feeding and re-integrating those who do not want to remain professional soldiers.
Governor Badagbu said his government is now planning to introduce vocational skills training centers to train those who want to re-integrate into civilian life so that they can start a new life.
By Jale Richard