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YAMBIO - 26 Mar 2020

SPLA-IO division commander defects to Kiir

Commander James Nando (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)
Commander James Nando (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

A commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) has abandoned his division in Western Equatoria State to join President Salva Kiir.

Major General James Nando Mark, the SPLA-IO division commander in Western Equatoria, is the latest senior opposition officer to defect since former SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff for administration James Koang joined Kiir.

The general has resigned citing marginalization and what he called failure by Riek Machar’s leadership to recognize the military participation of the SPLA-IO branch in Western Equatoria.

“With these highlights, I would like to submit this resignation letter to your esteem office, with effect from March 26,” he wrote on Thursday.

General Nando announced his resignation in Yambio town this afternoon.

Reacting to the news, Costa Joseph, the SPLA-IO spokesperson in Western Equatoria State, told Radio Tamazuj that they respect the decision taken by their division commander to join President Kiir.

“I can confirm that Major General James Nando has resigned and joined President Kiir. Nando was in Juba recently, and after he returned to Yambio here, he declared his support for the government,” Joseph said.

“The SPLA-IO Sector Commander Alfred Futiyo has replaced Nando immediately after his defection, so this is what had happened. I would like to inform the public that Major General Nando is no longer a division commander of the SPLA-IO forces in Western Equatoria,” he added.

According to Joseph, the defection of Major General James Nando would not affect SPLA-IO troops in Western Equatoria.

On February 21, President Salva Kiir appointed SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar, as his first vice president, meeting a twice-missed deadline to form a unity government as part of a power-sharing deal signed in September 2018.

Kiir and Machar have yet to create a unified army, a key requirement of the peace agreement.