A prominent South Sudanese rebel commander and a group of other high ranking officers on Wednesday declared their split from the rebel movement led by Riek Machar, threatening to reject any deal resulting from the current peace negotiations in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"We the Generals of the SPLM/A in Opposition have lost confidence in the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny, and from today he ceases to be the Chairman and Commander in Chief of SPLM/A-IO," said Peter Gatdet, South Sudanese rebel's operations commander in a statement.
He added that any deal Machar signs with South Sudan government would not be legitimate and would not be respected by the SPLM/A-IO generals.
"Dr. Riek Machar has already accepted to work with Salva Kiir as his vice president in the Transitional Government of National Unity. These leaders have become symbols of hate, division and failed leadership," the statement noted.
It further states that "both leaders were responsible for igniting the current crisis. We strongly reject IGAD proposal that gives leadership of the transitional Government of National Unity to both President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar."
Last July, Machar issued a decision relieving Gatdet from his position as the rebels' chief of staff for operations and Major General Gathoth Gatkuoth from his position as deputy chief of general staff for logistics.
The Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is currently hosting peace talks between the South Sudanese government of President Kiir and the rebels, led by Machar, focusing on a peace deal proposal by the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development in Africa (IGAD).
South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and defectors led by his former deputy Riek Machar.
The conflict soon turned into an all-out war, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer ethnic group.
The clashes have left thousands of South Sudanese dead and forced around 1.9 million people to flee their homes.