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Kiir did not have succession deal with Machar: official

October 24, 2013 (JUBA) - A senior official from South Sudan’s governing Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) has refuted reports that president Salva Kiir secretly struck a deal with ex-vice president Riek Machar ahead of the 2015 elections

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (R) and South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar (L) listen during the announcement of the results of the voting in Sudan, January 30, 2011 (Reuters)

Sources close to the former vice-president claim the two leaders had agreed on a deal that would allegedly see the incumbent leader step down in favour of his former deputy in the race for the presidency in the next polls.

‘‘You know very well that president Salva is a sincere man. He sticks to what he says. We asked him[Kiir] several times to tell us the truth because Riek is claiming in every corner that the president had dishonoured the deal they signed to step aside from power in 2015,’’ said the official, who did not want to be identified.

According to the official, the president ‘‘repeatedly’’ denied ‘‘point blank’’ that he ever had such a deal with Machar.

In July, Kiir dissolved his entire cabinet and sacked his long-term deputy Riek Machar over an alleged power struggle. Machar has already hinted he could stand against Kiir for the top job in the country in the next polls.

But the SPLM official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kiir was concerned that things "might go wrong" in the country if he steps down without the approval from South Sudanese.

"[But] the president will not impose himself on the people of South Sudan", he stressed, citing Kiir’s recent amnesty to rebels as a key achievement that has been internationally applauded.

KIIR CALLS ON ARMY

Meanwhile the president on Monday expressed concern about the fragile state of peace in the country.

‘‘The country is currently living through moments in which peace is under threat. Therefore, there is nothing which will prevent you from putting into practice the knowledge you acquired,’’ the president said while passing senior military officers at Awinykibul training centre in Eastern Equatoria state.

‘‘We gained independence which requires a lot of work. The challenge of state and nation building needs commitment and working together. As the army, you have the mandate to defend the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country and protect the lives and properties of the citizens", he added in a statement on SSTV.

Kiir, also commander-in-chief of the armed forces told the officers that the country was undergoing a testing period and that more commitment and organisation was required from them.

He challenged the army to do an audit of itself to find out what they have done since 2005 when South Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with Sudan after decades of conflict.

“You have done good things but you need to do more because this moment is a test and an examination of our conviction as to whether we really achieved something,’’ the president told the officers.

"We have to show that we want peace. We don’t want confusion, and we want to consolidate our efforts in unity so that we work to develop this country. We only achieved the mission of the liberation but the vision remains. It is still a long journey. It requires all of us whether in uniform or a civilian to work together", he stressed.

Kiir further told the army officers that solutions to the problems that the country faces ‘’lies in dialogue’’.

Meanwhile, the country’s defence minister Kuol Manyang advised members of the armed forces to be disciplined and cooperate with the civilian population. The event was also attended by senior army officials, including Gen. James Hoth Mai.

(ST)