Defense Minister says General Thomas Cirillo is granted amnesty

Thomas Cirilo

President Salva Kiir has  granted amnesty to renegade general Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the most senior officer who defect from the army and declared an armed rebellion.

Defense Minister Kuol Manyang told Reuters news agency that: “We hope he will respond to the amnesty by the president.”

“If he wants, he can come and form his own political party and then we can develop our democratic system,” Manyang said.

Swaka who resigned as deputy army chief of logistics in February claimed he commands a new rebel movement, National Salvation Front (NASF) with at least 30,000 fighters that will seek to overthrow President Kiir. Swaka is currently holed-up in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The scarred guerrilla veteran accuses Kiir of orchestrating a program to recruit fighters and procure arms for militias from Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group that included secret orders for weapons bypassing military supply lines.

He recently turned down a request by South Sudan National Dialogue top officials to join the program on which Kiir is banking to unite and redeem the ripped nation invited saying it’s meant to nurse his power ego.

Last month, NASF fighters clashed with Sudan Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) under exiled leader Riek Machar in the Southwestern Equatoria region under unclear circumstances, killing dozens. Both groups dismissed the fighting as a mistake noting that the differences had been resolved.

Source: Reuters