BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN —
More than 1,000 members of one of the largest active rebel groups in South Sudan, the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), are poised to lay down arms and surrender to the government, officials said Thursday.
The rebels, led by Brigadier General Bapiny Monytuel, have said they will also turn over 64 vehicles to the government, Unity State Deputy Governor Michael Chiengjiek Geay said.
Geay said the surrendering rebels will not be prosecuted.
“To me, this is a good process for peace and stability in the state, because these are the people who have been fighting us all along," he said.
"If they actually answer the calls of our president, always calling for peace, this is very good.”
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir offered amnesty to all rebel groups operating in South Sudan after he took office in 2011.
The SSLM was formed in 1999 to fight with southern Sudanese rebels against Khartoum in the once unified Sudan's long civil war.
But ahead of South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the rebels turned against Juba, accusing officials of corruption and tribal favoritism. They were one of the largest of the active rebel groups in the state.
SSLM fighters have been linked to a clash that killed 20 soldiers in the South Sudanese army, the SPLA, in early 2011. SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said members of the SSLM have remained active along Unity state’s border with Sudan, near one of South Sudan’s largest oil fields.
A team from the SPLA is scheduled to arrive in Unity State on Friday for talks on integrating members of the SSLM into the national army.