JUBA – A senior South Sudan opposition commander has questioned last week’s appointment of General Ochan Puot as commander of ‘special forces’ in Maiwut county of the country’s Upper Nile state, wondering why an integrated military commander would be tasked to command a separate force.
Last week, President Salva Kiir Mayardit appointed General Ochan – a former opposition commander who defected from the main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, to Kiir’s side in late 2018 – as commander of the ‘special forces’ in Maiwut county.
The latest appointment sparked a social media uproar with natives of Maiwut state criticizing the move and wondering why a ‘separate army’ be formed in the area.
Speaking to Sudans Post in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Major General Dickson Gatluak Joak, a opposition commander allied to General Paul Malong Awan, questioned the move of the South Sudanese leader saying the appointment of Ochan means a formation of militias which he said may result in the destabilization of the area.
“When one is integrated it means – according to lay man’s terms – to become a part in the very inclusive system of governance or whatever its,” General Gatluak said, questioning as to whether the former opposition forces let by Ochan are fully integrated into the army.
“Are former PMPC fully integrated and if so, why keeping them under a separate command from the SSPDF and under Gen Ochan Puot? General Ochan must also knows that he is bigger than commanding Chiewaw sub-clan being in the virtue of rank of Major General, thus at least he could command a Division or should take the responsibility of Pagak but not separate army.”
The senior opposition commander further urged local communities in Maiwut to reject what he says may be a ploy by the regime in Juba to destabilize the area which in the past served as an opposition stronghold saying the people in the area “must open their eyes and not be allowed to be kept by the system as Militias.”
“[Natives of Maiwut] must not repeat and accept this divide and rule policy of the regime in Juba, and if the government really meant the business of standing with them, let their forces be redeployed across the country and becoming part and parcel of the core SSPDF including the General Military GHQS, Bilpam.