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Kiir not responsible for defections in SPLM-IO leadership: minister


August 6, 2021 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir is not sponsoring the defection of key members of the armed and non-armed opposition in a bid to bolster and consolidate his rule in the country, a senior official clarified on Friday.

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South Sudan’s minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, on 13 September 2011 (ST)

In an interview with Sudan Tribune, Presidential Affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Kiir’s acceptance of the nominees of the main opposition movement into key positions shows his commitment to the peace process.

“His excellency the president of the republic, general Salva Kiir Mayardit is the man of peace, and everyone knows this. He has no hand, no role in whatever that you hear and read in the media. Those media reports are internal issues of the concerned parties”, he explained.

Marial assured members of the opposition of the commitment of the president and the government to fully implement the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

“His excellency the president of the republic is on record expressing his personal commitment and that of the government to a full implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. He has instructed the chief of defense forces to make necessary preparation with the minister of defense and veteran affairs so that in the cantonment site are passed out," stressed the minister.

He added, "This commitment as you are aware was a collective decision of the presidency which includes the president, the first vice president, and all the other deputies and peace partners”.

The top presidential aide was responding to media reports making statements attributed to key opposition figures pointing fingers at the government as sponsoring defection of key military members.

The co-chair of Joint Defense Board (JDB) Lt. General Gabriel Duop Lam, convened a security briefing on Friday in response to a declaration ousting Machar from his position by his predecessor, Simon Gatwech Dual who installed himself as the interim leader deputized by Johnson Olony in Magenis area of Upper Nile state on Tuesday.

“The SPLA-IO would like to point out that the incident that is happening in Magenis is related to the incidences that happened in Maiwut, Kajo Keji, Maban, and Lieng due to encouraged and sponsored defections from the peace partner. This was evident in the recorded conversation of the former SPLA-IO Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. William Gatjiath Deng”, Lam said in a statement.

On August 3, the SPLM/A-IO military command under Dual denounced the leadership of Machar and appointed the former as the new interim chairman of the armed opposition movement.

The decision to oust Machar, the splinter group declared, emerged after its members held a three-day meeting at Magenis area in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

But Machar’s office, in a statement issued on Thursday, said the three generals who met at Mangenis do not constitute the military command leadership of the SPLA-IO.


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