June 14, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese presidency has denied having confidentially reacted to the recent remarks by the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni in which he dismissed president Salva Kiir’s claims of a coup attempt in Juba at the IGAD regional leaders summit held on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
- The presidents of Uganda and South Sudan Yoweri Museveni (L) and Salva Kiir walk side by side (Photo: Getty Images)
Various independent and social media outlets on Saturday published and widely discussed a “leaked” internal memo from the presidency in which president Kiir allegedly reacted to the statement by president Museveni who “surprisingly” admitted that there was no coup attempt in Juba as alleged by government.
Museveni, who is president Kiir’s closest ally in the war, told the heads of state at the IGAD summit during a hot closed-door debate with the rebel leader Riek Machar that the six-month old crisis was simply ignited by a misunderstanding within units of the presidential guards on 15 December and not a coup attempt.
In a silent reaction, however, president Kiir allegedly circulated an internal confidential memo on Thursday to specific government officials and institutions in which he confirmed Museveni’s statement, but cautioned officials against any public reaction on the matter.
President Kiir, in the leaked memo, appeared disappointed by his Ugandan counterparts remarks, but praised the latter for standing with his government during the difficult time.
“President Museveni is the only leader who defends this government. He is a true friend to me and my government. The president of Uganda acted in the IGAD meeting without consulting me,” Kiir reportedly said in the memo, adding that an urgent meeting needed to be held in order to brief the government about what transpired in Addis Ababa.
“I warn you not to talk against him [Museveni] or his government in the media” he further cautioned.
The South Sudanese leader reportedly informed officials that he already spoke to president Museveni on Wednesday and that the latter assured him not to get worried about his no coup remarks at the IGAD summit.
But officials from the presidency dismissed these reports as false and that the president never circulated any memo.
“This is not true. It is a false. The president never made any comment on the remark attributed to the Ugandan president”, presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny said Monday.
The minister for the presidency, Awan Guol Riak separately told Sudan Tribune that he was “not aware” of any internal memo nor heard the president cautioning senior government officials not to publicly react to statements attributed to his Ugandan counterpart.
“I am not aware.There is no such memo which I know. There are no directives given to the government officials by the president”, Riak said Monday.
The news about Museveni’s u-turn on the narrative about the alleged coup was revealed by Machar, who currently leads an armed opposition fighting against the Juba government.
Machar told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that he had to congratulate president Museveni during a hot debate involving president Kiir in the presence of the IGAD heads of state when the Ugandan head of state for the first time admitted there was no coup attempt in Juba.
Machar also revealed that Kiir had to keep silent and could not react to Museveni’s new position during the debate.
The ex-VP has been explaining that the 15 December crisis was fabricated by Kiir and Museveni in order to get rid of rival political reformists within the ruling (SPLM) party, resulting to the “imposed war” on his resistance movement.
An observer at the Addis Ababa peace talks between the two warring parties said the admission was “truthfully embarrassing” to president Kiir.
“Though truthful, the remarks were an embarrassing to president Kiir who only depended on president Museveni to help him sell the coup attempt narrative as other regional governments and the international community have from the onset rejected the allegation,” said an observer at the Addis Ababa peace talks between the two warring parties.
MUSEVENI’S PAST EMBARRASSING REMARKS
It is not for the first time that the Ugandan leader uttered statements that were seen by many to have embarrassed his South Sudanese counterpart.
Last month while speaking at a political party gathering in support of one of his party candidates in Uganda, president Museveni said he would “hang himself” if his country was to depend on foreign troops like South Sudan.
The statement attracted fierce criticisms in South Sudan with some calling for the Ugandan leader to retract the remarks and apologise to the government and people of South Sudan.
The armed opposition group led by Machar, have voiced their concerns about Museveni’s role, saying he has damaging political influence on president Kiir’s decisions and accused him of co-architecting the 15 December South Sudan internal crisis of which thousands of his troops are still actively providing air and ground attacks against rebels.