Reports from South Sudan’s shaky government indicate President Salva Kiir is preparing to give his opponent Riek Machar an ultimatum to return to Juba, or risk being replaced with someone from his faction.
The move is likely accelerate the rift between the two leaders into severe fighting and renewed civil war.
Machar fled Juba following clashes between forces loyal to him and president Kiir in which hundreds lost lives and thousands displaced in just four days.
President Kiir is in consultations with some of his confidants and some officials from Machar’s faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) in unity government about appointing an official from the faction to replace Dr. Machar.
A source that spoke to the Sudan Tribune said “The transitional government of national unity cannot be held hostage because of Riek. If he does not want to come out from his hiding despite all the assurances of protection, even with the president coming [out]himself to declare to chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and special envoy of the African Union that he will stay together with him if he feels unsafe staying alone, then the president has the right to appoint anyone from SPLM-IO to replace him,” a source said.
However, if the provisions of the peace agreement are anything to go by, President has no such powers to replace an official from another partner in the transitional government of national unity unless recommended to him by the top leader of that particular party.
The official said there were several senior members of Machar’s armed opposition faction from which a nominee could be found to replace him to continue with the implementation of the peace agreement as well as rendering services to the people instead of waiting for other negotiations.
“There are many members of the SPLM-IO here in Juba. The minister of Mining, Taban Deng Gai, who was chief negotiator during the peace talks can be appointed,” he revealed.
Also, Bol Makueng, Secretary of Information in the SPLM faction of President Salva Kiir on Sunday revealed in a statement over the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) that if Machar did not return within a given time, he will be replaced with alternative leader.
He said this was resolved in the SPLM political bureau meeting under the leadership of President Kiir.
Sources said Taban Deng Gai and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth are leading a campaign to replace Machar, but other SPLM-IO officials have reportedly refused.
Credit: Sudan Tribune