JUBA – At least two South Sudan army battalions in the country’s Central Equatoria state have deserted their bases in different areas after salary delay leading to hunger and diseases, the National Salvation Front (NAS) said in a statement.
In a statement, the group led by General Thomas Cirilo Swaka, former South Sudan deputy army chief, said they discovered the largest desertion through military intelligence service of the National Salvation Front.
“The Leadership of National Salvation Front (NAS) would like to inform its members, the people of South Sudan and members of International Community about the recent development of the desertion of the South Sudan People’s defense Forces (SSPDF) and their allied Militia from their duty locations,” the NAS statement reads in part.
“The NAS intelligence and field commanders are monitoring and reporting the continuous desertion of SSPDF and Mathiang Anyoor militias from their deployment locations to their home areas,” the statement added.
The statement said the bases where the desertion took place include “Lobonok, Lainya, Yei, Mundiri, Movolo, Maridi, and Yambio. Approximately, two (2) battalions have safely passed through Movolo to different parts of South Sudan.”
“The reasons for the mass desertion of these forces are no-payment of salaries, poor living conditions, challenging combat environment, low combat morale and dissatisfaction over false promises made during the mobilization that some of them were going to be sent to schools but found themselves in the front-lines,” it added.
General Cirilo further welcomed the “timely and patriotic decision taken by these forces. The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of NAS, has therefore ordered all NAS field commanders to allow unhindered humanitarian corridor for the safe passage of these deserters to reunite with their deprived families in all parts of South Sudan and in the refugees’ camps.”
“The Leadership of NAS urges the undecided members of SSPDF and Mathiang Anyoor to take similar decisions and actions as their colleagues who are now happily reunited with their families and love ones in their villages than continue to be used by the Kiir regime and his Juba political elites to kill, rape, and commit atrocities on their fellow citizens.”