Defections from Paulino=s Forces
In an unexpected development, Paulino=s deputy commander Philip Pipan Machar and about 1,000 members of Paulino=s pro-government militia defected to the SPLA, the second major defection of southern government militias to the SPLA in 1998 (Kerubino=s being the first). Riek Machar made the announcement of the defection in October 1998, saying he had received a message from the SPLA about it. He said that the government was aware of a deal allegedly signed in August 1998 between the SPLA=s John Garang and Paulino Matiep. There was no confirmation of this, and Paulino was said to be en route to Bentiu. Although Riek did not say when the defection took place, he said that the defecting forces were concentrated in the Bentiu area.139
A few weeks later, Adam al Tahir Hamdoun, presidential adviser on peace affairs, announced that the number of those who had defected from Paulino was only twenty-five, of whom five had since returned to their base at Bentiu. He claimed that the leader of the defection was upset over a power struggle in which Paulino had been destroying villages that backed Riek.140
The SPLA claimed that the defecting forces were Abased in the oil area of Bentiu and the town of Mayom.@141 In a separate defection, about 200 SSDF fighters in another oil area in Upper Nile returned to the SPLA fold, the SPLA=s statement claimed. These defections placed SPLA fighters within twenty-seven kilometers (seventeen miles) of the Adrail oil deposits in Upper Nile.142
In November 1998 Riek announced that Atotal peace@ had been restored in Unity state after Paulino declared a truce in November. According to a Riek spokesperson, Paulino sent a message to Adam al Tahir Hamdoun, the presidential peace adviser, saying he was convinced it was necessary to stop the bloodshed and reach a permanent peaceful resolution of the crisis. Riek added that they were trying to woo back Philip Pipan, who defected from Paulino in October because he was tired of the internal (Nuer) fighting.143
Riek=s representative claims that Philip Pipan was successful in pushing the remnants of Paulino=s forces from the Bul Nuer area. When Paulino=s men saw that they would not prevail against Philip and the SPLA, they approached Riek and joined him, leaving Paulino with no forces. APaulino is a gone case. The war is now over in Western Upper Nile. No one will listen to him. Many people died@ because of him, the UDSF representative declared.144
139 "1,000 pro-government militias defect to Sudanese rebel group,@ AFP, Khartoum, October 24, 1998; APro-government troops join rebels in Southern Sudan,@ Reuters, Khartoum, October 24, 1998.
140 "Sudan confirms defection of militia leader to rebel group,@ DPA, Khartoum, November 10, 1998.
141 "More southern Sudanese fighters returning to rebel ranks: SPLA,@ AFP, Cairo, October 31, 1998.
143 "Sudan pro-government southern rebels end feud,@ Reuters, Khartoum, November 15, 1998.
144 Human Rights Watch interview, Biel Torkech Rambang, December 14, 1998.