August 1, 2016 (GUIT) - Two senior South Sudan armed opposition (SPLM-IO) generals say they are in contact with Riek Machar, who was recently dropped from government.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar addresses a news conference in his office in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, August 31, 2015. (Photo REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
Machar was replaced by the SPLM-IO’s former chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai last week, a move the armed opposition leader described as “illegal”.
But Maj. Gen Liah Diu, a senior military officer with the armed opposition, told Sudan Tribune he still remains loyal to Machar.
“I have never gone anywhere. I’m still in contact with my commander in chief Dr. Riek Machar. Those who wish me to defect to Taban Deng are great enemies of the movement,” he said.
Forces allied to two senior opposition generals reportedly clashed after one side declared allegiance to Gai at Neemni village.
Diu, however, confirmed he and Lt. Gen Dor Manjuor conducted a meeting with local chiefs in the area on the replacement of Machar by South Sudan President Salva Kiir.
He claimed most people in the area disagreed with the appointment of Gai, which they alleged was a tactical move by President Salva Kiir to divide the armed opposition faction.
South Sudan’s newly-appointed vice-president reportedly dispatched Maj. Gen Carlo Kuol from Juba to the area to discuss and mobilize the community to support his new position.
But Diu insists some people were simply misled into backing Gai, stressing the Machar was still the legitimate leader of the armed opposition movement.
“It is not true the statement you received from commissioner and press secretary of Unity State governor. We were in the meeting yesterday as Guit county community on ground, but our position has been misunderstood by members of our comrades,” he explained.
Diu said they communicated the SPLM-IO leader on Monday and that the latter assured them of his support to the movement and the struggle to fight for a better South Sudan.