Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, former military spokesman of South Sudan’s rebel group SPLM-IO, saying slow-moving peace negotiations to end the ethnic-fuelled conflict were ignoring the demands of smaller factions.
Lul landed at Juba International Airport from Nairobi, Kenya Thursday afternoon following negotiations with Greater Pibor chief administrator David Yau Yau. He was received by cabinet officials and driven off in a government-owned vehicle after speaking to press,
“Am happy to be back after nearly two years, we are taking research
for peace to the greater high and that why am back to Juba. It has
taken us fourteen months to get into a meaningful corner but with the
assistance of our brothers who are well experienced in the process of
bringing about peace that’s why I came to Juba so that we find speedy
way of bring peace to South Sudan”, Lul said.
Lul’s defection to Juba is a drastic turnaround for the spokesperson. In his press releases as the rebel military spokesperson, Lul frequently referred to Kiir’s soldiers as “genocidal forces” while using inflammatory and threatening rhetoric against the SPLA-Juba.
The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people and driven more than 1.5 million from their homes. It erupted in December 2013 after a political dispute that saw Machar sacked as deputy president. The conflict has broadly followed ethnic rifts that pre-date independence.
Koang said he was frustrated that Machar would return to his former role as vice president under the latest pact, saying the demands of other groups had not been addressed.
“Local issues need to be addressed especially in Greater Lou Nuer,” he told reporters. “If these issues are not addressed, then the possibility of us going back to war is very high.”
“You know I have been part of the delegation to Addis Ababa right from first of January 2014, and we thought that the process is going to be comprehensive, it is going to answer all the fundamental problem we have and we remain, but we realize that the problem has been narrow down to map out power struggle”, he added.
SPLA-Juba faction held a welcoming ceremony for Lul Ruai Koang, the former military spokesperson for Riek Machar’s SPLA-In Opposition, upon Lul’s arrival in South Sudan’s capital on Thursday.