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November 26, 2013

South Sudan Ex-Rebels Join Army After Presidential Amnesty

by Lucy Poni

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has issued a series of presidential decrees calling for former rebel fighters who have accepted the government's amnesty offer to be integrated into the army.

"They are now being integrated into our armed forces and other security organs, and some will go to the civil service," Kiir said at the Governors' Forum in Juba this week.

The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey has credited Kiir’s amnesty offers with decreasing the number of insurgencies in the country, noting that five out of 18 rebel groups accepted Kiir's offer in 2012, and eight more were considering it.

Fighters from three rebels groups who laid down their arms earlier this year have already been integrated into the SPLA, and soldiers who fought for two more rebel leaders, Bapiny Monytuil and Johnson Olony, who accepted separate offers of amnesty made by Kiir in April and July, are in the process of being integrated into the army, SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said.

Up to 3,000 former rebels are expected to join the army, Aguer said.

The last major holdout is rebel leader David Yau Yau, but a church leader who is involved in negotiations with him said the rebel leader, who told Voice of America in May that he was fighting for a separate state for the Murle ethnic group and others who he said were deprived of their rights, has not clashed with government forces in the past few months.