A group of rebel outfits and opposition entities who are not signatories of the peace agreement last week formed a new alliance dubbed the South Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SSFDA) in Khartoum, Sudan.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding seen by Radio Tamazuj, the signatories are; SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang Declaration, National Salvation Front (NAS), South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUNF/A), United South Sudan Revolutionary Movement/Army (USSRM/A), South Sudan Rescue Front (SSRF), United Revolutionary Democratic Movement (UDRM/K) and South Sudan United Movement/Army Forces (SSUM/FA).
“We, the SSFDA parties to this MoU recognize the need for united opposition against the brutal regime of General Salva Kiir and his partners in crime,” the Mou read. “Knowing the protracted suffering imposed on our citizens by illegitimate and unilateral extension of the government without due democratic process. We, the SSFDA parties may appreciate the role of the unified political and military action to change the regime in Juba by committing the country to a democratic process through free and fair elections.
Radio Tamazuj caught up with Emmanuel Bojo, the deputy secretary general of the SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang faction, and sounded him out on the purpose and objectives of the new formation.
Below are edited excerpts:
Q: Can you tell us more about the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by your group and other opposition entities in Khartoum recently?
A: The declaration was signed on 3 April in Khartoum by a group of nearly seven different movements
Q: What are the objectives of this new coalition?
A: We came together with the objective of regime change in South Sudan. We want to change the system of governance that has led to the suffering of our people under the leadership of President Salva Kiir. We have a unified political leadership and a unified high command to implement a joint operation in the liberated areas in South Sudan.
Q: Can you give us the leadership structure of the new coalition?
A: We are yet to name the structure of the coalition. We will name our chairman and his deputy, secretary general, political secretariat, and joint high command.
Q: Some of your members in the new collation such as NAS and SSUF/A are part of the ongoing Rome talks. How will this affect those talks?
A: We are going to work together as members of the new coalition even though we are not part of the Rome peace talks because we have a different agenda together.
Q: What is your agenda?
A: Our agenda is that the struggle must continue.
Q: What does that mean?
A: That means we should struggle militarily to uproot the failed government which is ruling South Sudan.
Q: So you are going to use only the military option and are not open to a negotiated settlement?
A: We are ready for military confrontation and negotiations if the government is willing to listen but it seems they do not want to listen. We are tired of several talks and negotiations.
We were part of the SPLM-IO of Riek Machar and we later split because the government is not willing to implement the peace agreement. We have seen that there is no political will in the country to implement the security arrangements for one unified army in the country.
Look at the situation of our country at the moment! We want to rescue the people of South Sudan.
Q: How can you join your hands with somebody who is engaged in peace talks with the government and yet you are advocating for war?
A: The only member in the Rome Talks is NAS and if you see keenly in the declaration document, they have not signed. He (Gen. Thomas Cirillo) said he is going to sign later on. He seems to have some reservations about the idea of the coalition may be due to his engagement with the Rome talks but he has been actively engaged since the preparations and planning of the coalition.
Q: What about Paul Malong, Pagan Amum, and Stephen Buai?
A: No. They are not part of our coalition.
Q: There are some names in your document that many South Sudanese are not aware of. Who are they?
A: It is true that some movements have been established after the signing of the revitalized peace agreement and they are not known but we tried our level best to bring on board anybody that has an agenda of regime change in the country. I can give you some names but you will still not know them because they are not known on the political scene in South Sudan. Now they will be known because we share common objectives.
Q: Where is Gen. Johnson Olony in this scenario?
A: Olony is now part of the government and we do not know his whereabouts.
Q: Is he not the deputy of Gen. Simon Gatwitch of the Kitgwang faction?
A: He used to be part of the coalition that united us during the Khartoum Peace Agreement on 16 January 2021. The duration of the agreement was three months and up to now nothing has been implemented. Olony then left Kitgwang and went on his way saying he wants peace.
Q: You said the coalition intents to fight and change the regime in Juba because the people of South Sudan are tired. But if you are going to fight again, will the people not suffer again?
A: Sincerely, the situation in which our people are living now is not peace or war. On our side, the country is at war. That is why we decided to declare war against the government so that we all know that the country is at war. We do not want anybody to cheat our people. People are killed in cold blood, by famine and displacement. This is not a situation of peace.
Q: When do you expect to name the new coalition structure?
A: We are working on that and once it is ready, we will announce it to the public.
Q: Any message to the people of South Sudan?
A: Let them be patient and they should not travel randomly across the country. The government has failed to protect the people and we want our people to be aware and protect themselves. They should not move to Juba because we can attack Juba at any time.
The second message is to all people to join our new coalition so that we work together to remove the corrupt government currently ruling South Sudan.