May 16, 2018, Joseph Okell Obango, leader of USAP party, has accused the country’s cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro of plotting a coup in his party and National Agenda parties’ group.
Lomuro is the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and as such is closely aligned with the ruling SPLM faction headed by President Salva Kiir, though he belongs to another political party. His party is called the South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF) which was part of the unified umbrella of the National Agenda parties led by Joseph Okell.
Okell told Radio Tamazuj in an interview that said he had been selected by the National Agenda parties which is made up of nine political parties in South Sudan to sign the cessation of hostilities agreement on their behalf in December last year.
“I was part of the cessation of hostilities together with three others to represent the parties in the peace talks. I was with Martin Tako and Wilson Lodiong, so we were representing the National Agenda parties,” he said.
“Martin Elia was part of TGoNU, but we remained as representatives of the political parties. So Martin was not happy because we did not go and sign the agreement as part of the government,” he explained.
“When we returned to Juba, Martin said Joseph Okell and his people are rebels. So he went and selected one of the USAP members to be the leader of USAP party. Martin went to the National Security Service and they removed me from my position as leader of the party.”
The elderly politician noted that the cabinet minister has formed a new delegation to represent the National Agenda parties in the peace talks in Addis Ababa on May 17.” Martin said the former delegation of Joseph Okell, Martin Tako and Wilson Lodiong will not go to Addis Ababa, so this is the situation in which we are,” he said.
“On 9 May some unregistered political parties were selected by Martin Elia to go to Addis Ababa on behalf of the National Agenda parties. Martin has appointed a youth man called Joseph Malek from my party to be part of his new group,” he said.
Okell urged the East African regional bloc IGAD not to recognize the new National Agenda parties formed by Minister Martin Elia Lomuro.
Kornelio Kon, leader of the National United Democratic Forum, said the new group formed by Cabinet Minister does not represent the alliance of political parties in the country.
Kon, who is also the leader of Alliance of National Political Parties, explained that the cabinet minister Martin Elia used his powers to remove the leader of the National Agenda parties Joseph Okell.
“Martin does not want peace. There were differences between Martin and Joseph Okell because Martin says the position of political parties at the peace talks should not be different from the government, so that was the main problem since we were in Addis Ababa,” Kon said.
This month, twelve political parties in Juba signed a memorandum of understanding, committing themselves to operating under the ‘national agenda’ group chaired by Martin Elia Lomuro, replacing Joseph Okell.
Cabinet minister Martin Elia could not immediately be reached for comment.