South Sudan’s president accuses his first deputy of maintaining separate army

Hentet fra Sudan Tribune

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has accused his first deputy in the transitional government of National Unity, Riek Machar, of keeping a separate army, which he describes as the work of those who do not desire peace.

Kiir made these accusations during a political rally held in Wau on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, where his candidacy received the endorsement of members of his ruling Sudan People’s Movement (SPLM) from the Bahr El Ghazal region.

According to Kiir, “As we were preparing to come here (Wau), we received a report of six people killed and another wounded in Wunkur in Ruweng Administrative Area. They were on a peace mission. This is the issue of someone who does not want peace. And the good thing is that my first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar, has accepted that they are his people who went and killed those individuals. They are his people.”

Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government to implement the 2015 peace agreement, which was revitalized in 2018. However, key provisions of the agreement, such as security arrangements, have not been finalized.

In March, Kiir issued a Republican order dismissing the Minister of Defence and swapping the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence positions, leading to protests from Machar’s group. Efforts mediated by the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring Commission have not successfully resolved these issues.

Kiir has now accused Machar of maintaining a separate army, which goes against the commitment to respect a permanent ceasefire. He stated, “When I return from here (Wau), we will convene a meeting of the presidency to discuss whether Riek Machar can be the first vice president in the government while he still has forces outside fighting the same government. Where is this? This is a very bad thing.”

The recent attacks in Twic county in Warrap state and Ruweng administrative area have further strained the relationship between Kiir and Machar. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Kiir did not directly hold Machar responsible but mentioned that they occurred on the same day.

The inability to resolve issues through consensus raises concerns about potential delays in holding elections and the recognition of those elections by other political parties if Machar’s group decides to boycott them.