April 27, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Thursday abruptly cancelled a planned visit to the headquarters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Juba.
Kiir, who left his office on Thursday morning to Bilpam, the headquarters of the army located on the outskirts north of Juba, the capital of South Sudan, decided to return to the office after reaching halfway to the military base.
It was not immediately clear why the president changed his mind, sparking debates among government and opposition supporters.
A presidential aide told Sudan Tribune that the president decided to return after he was advised by the security service to not go to the military headquarters.
“We were on our way to Bilpam but returned mid-way because the President was advised by the security to not go to the SPLA general headquarters. I don’t know the reason and I have not asked anybody. The president was talking on the telephone and the driver turned the vehicle when he finished talking,” said the presidential aide who asked not to be named.
Government critics linked the decision to tension between the Chief of General Staff, Paul Malong Awan and the Director General for Internal Bureau of the Security Service, Akol Koor Kuc, both of whom have presidential ambition, with each seeing himself as a potential successor, should Kiir steps aside.
Observers say President Kiir must have been advised to not go for a meeting with the predominantly generals supporters of the chief of general staff, expressing fears they could arrest him.