July 1, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudanese presidency dismissed as “manufactured lies” reports that the Greater Bahr el Ghazal council of elders had allegedly asked President Salva Kiir to step aside from power in a bid to preserve unity and avoid disintegration.
- South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, gestures during a news conference in the capital, Juba, on 18 December 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
“This statement is nothing other than another sequence of manufactured lies aimed at creating a certain situation. There was no suggestion from the Council of elders from Greater Bahr el Gazal whatsoever that asked President Kiir to step aside”, presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny clarified in an e-mailed response.
He said the elders from the region were instead on record for fully endorsing a proposal backing president Kiir to stand for a second term in the next election.
“In accordance with the resolutions of the two Greater Bahr El Gazal Region Conference, the elders were the first to endorse Kiir’s leadership to stand for second term, comes 2015”, said Ateny.
The official further added the elderly politician quoted to have said they approached the president to stand down from the presidency was “speaking out of vacuum”.
However, while the presidency denied the proposal, many observers and senior members of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) maintained that the elders indeed approached the president with the suggestion as a way to avoid disintegration of the country.
“I am not a member of the council because it was formed on the basis of the age, exclusively limiting it to elderly politicians and traditional leaders from the region, but I have heard that the president was approached several times over the matter", a lawmaker from Bahr el Ghazal region said Tuesday.
"This started before seession and it is actually this proposal, compounded by the rumours that the president Kiir himself is reported to have told former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, that the he would stand down was what motivated some of the SPLM leaders to declare their interest to contest the position of the chairperson of the SPLM”, he added.
The legislator, who did not want to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter, said even though the elders may not have approached the president with the proposal, the region seen as the support base of the latter was already experiencing “significant dissident voices”.
“Even though I am not sure of the authenticity of the proposal itself, the fact the region has already experiencing significant dissident voices can actually be another cause of concern. Already the two regions of Greater Equatoria and Upper Nile have indicated their preferences. The Equatoria region, as you know has already come out to advocate for federal system and whoever comes up to support their call for federal system will be the person they will support. Riek Machar saw this as the opportunity and he came out [but] the leadership rejects it," the lawmaker told Sudan Tribune.
"This situation, I think will divide the support to the leadership if it is not addressed well”, he stressed.