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SPLM youth leader warns against forming interim government

February 16, 2015 (RUMBEK) - The Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - Youth League (SPLM-YL) has warned the mainstream of South Sudan’s ruling party to resist calls to form an interim coalition government as a result of the conflict that has blighted the country over the last two months.

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The Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - Youth League (SPLM-YL) Akol Paul Kordit speaking at a rally in Juba. 15 February 2014. (ST)

Akol Paul Kordit made the recommendation at a rally held on Saturday at Freedom Hall, which was attended by the SPLM’s chairman Savla Kiir Mayardit - the President of South Sudan - and his Vice President James Wani Igga, as well as other senior members.

President Kiir accuses the deputy he sacked in July last year - Riek Machar - of attempting to stage a coup on December 15, after fighting broke out between soldiers in the Presidential Guard following weeks of tension within the ruling party.

Machar and other opponents of Kiir’s rule are currently at the negotiating table in neighbouring Ethiopia, in a bid to end the conflict that has claimed an estimated 10,000 lives and displaced almost a million people.

One of the suggestions from talks is to form an interim government to take the country up to the next elections in 2015. However, Kordit rejected this suggestion on the grounds that rebellions should not rewarded and that the SPLM convincingly won the last elections in 2010.

Four years ago Kiir achieved almost 93% of the Presidential vote and the SPLM won almost all the seats in the National Legislative Assembly. His only challenger, Lam Akol of the SPLM - Democratic Change, which split from the SPLM in 2009, received less than 7% in the Presidential poll and only managed to win a handful of parliamentary seats.

The SPLM government, which secured the independence of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011 as part of a 2005 peace deal, can only be voted from office and cannot be forced out through rebellion, Kordit said.

"We believed in this government. We have elected this government. The youth of South Sudan love this government because it is their government. We trust this government and we must have collective effort to protect it and encourage good wish for this government."

Lam Akol, who had until recently been in exile from South Sudan, reconciled with Kiir in time to named in the President’s negotiating team for the talks with the SPLM-in-Opposition in Addis Ababa.

However, Onyoti Odigo, an SPLM-DC member of the South Sudanese parliament has called for an interim government to be formed in order to make the political climate more inclusive and encourage reconciliation.

"We say that this conflict has slipped out [of] the control of the SPLM and that it requires the involvement of all the stakeholders. The people who are dying now are not all members or supporters of the SPLM. They are South Sudanese citizens and not all South Sudanese support the SPLM."

The leaders of other political parties have rejected calls for an interim government with the participation of former cabinet ministers, regardless of whether they are members of the ruling party or from other political parties.

In July last year Kiir sacked his whole cabinet, as well as suspending the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum. The senior officials who were not reappointed became increasingly critical of Kiir’s leadership and were accused - along with Machar - of taking part in the alleged failed coup attempt.

Of the 11 SPLM figures who were held by Juba for over a month, four remain in custody. The others have been allowed to travel to Ethiopia via Kenya in order to take part in the peace process.

The released detainees and the SPLM-in-Opposition are both calling for those still in custody, including Pagan Amum, to be released in order to aid the peace talks. They are also demanding Juba ask the Ugandan forces, who have fought alongside the South Sudanese army during the conflict, to immediately withdraw.