South Sudanese armed opposition faction (SPLM/SPLA-IO) has denied circulating rumours that there was a brewing split within the movement’s top leadership, saying this was the work of enemies of peace to try to plant mistrust within the leadership.
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President Salva Kiir meets SPLM-IO Chief Negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, in Juba, December 22, 2015 (ST Photo)
For the past four days, a rumour has been circulating in the social media that President Salva Kiir and his Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) have planned to appoint Taban Deng Gai as first-vice president instead of Riek Machar, citing better working relationship with the former.
Gai, who was governor of the oil rich Unity state, but was decreed out by President Kiir, is currently the chief negotiator in the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), led by former vice-president, Riek Machar.
Machar has been endorsed by the leadership of the SPLM-IO to become the first vice-president of a transitional government of national unity in accordance with the peace agreement signed in August 2015.
The circulating speculation pointed to ongoing consultative meetings in Juba between Gai and members of the government towards this direction, as the government allegedly doesn’t want Machar to take the position.
The matter has attracted discussions with some supporters of the SPLM-IO accusing Gai of trying to snatch the faction’s leadership by trying to rush ahead like he did in 2001 with late John Garang, leaving Machar, his former boss, behind, while others could not believe the source of the speculation and asked for calm.
Opposition’s media official has however dismissed the rumours of the split describing it as “wild” and “baseless” blaming this on the government to create mistrust.
“We should better ignore this because it is a wild and a baseless rumour,” said James Gatdet Dak, spokesman of the opposition leader, when contacted by Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“Comrade General Taban Deng Gai with his advance team is doing great job in Juba in pushing for the full implementation of the peace agreement,” he said.
Dak who also acknowledged seeing the circulated rumour blamed it on agents of the government whom he accused of trying to split the advance team in Juba and creating mistrust among the leadership of the SPLM-IO in order to derail the implementation of the peace deal.
He claimed that the source of the rumour came from the government’s intelligence group in Juba, adding this was another proof that the government was not committed to the implementation of the peace deal and wanted to derail it using different means.
He called on the members and supporters of the SPLM-IO to dismiss such a rumour which intended to divide the people and focus on the implementation of the peace agreement.