3 August 2013

Sudan: South Sudan's Kiir, Ex-VP Machar Exchange Spats Over Direction of the SPLM

Bentiu — South Sudan's ex-Vice President Riek Machar warned against any unilateral move to dissolve party structures or dismiss leaders of the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) who have divergent opinions saying it could lead to chaos and instability

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his former vice-president Riek Machar (redpepper))

Machar, who is the deputy chairperson of the party, said it would be wrong for the party politburo to "naively" or "intentionally" remove him from the party, which does not belong to any one individual.

The former Vice President made these remarks during an interview with Naath FM, a local radio station in Bentiu, the Unity state capital.

Machar, recently sacked by President Salva Kiir from his VP post, has publicly vowed in the past to challenge his ex-boss for the party chairmanship and subsequently the country's next presidential elections due in 2015.

"SPLM belongs to everybody. We fought for it together and many more lives were lost for the prosperity of this nation... and after we signed the CPA on self-determination we allowed him to pilot us. He [Kiir] did not step into leadership by force," he said.

The former vice-president, who was removed last week by the president, seemed to have reacted to the statements by the president on 30th July in which he criticized those who challenged his leadership style and performance by telling them to quit the party.

The ex-vice president further accused the president of not consulting with party members, prior to making major political decisions, citing the recent suspension and probe of SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum.

Machar, who played a key role in negotiations with Khartoum after the 2005 peace deal, said the right to self-determination, which every citizen voted for, cannot be under-looked.

He insisted that the 23 July decree, which led to his removal from office, was directly linked to his recent outburst on failure by the leadership to tackle rampant corruption, tribalism, poor service delivery and loss of the ruling party popularity among citizens.

Machar, in his remarks, also urged his supporters to remain calm, saying his recent criticisms were meant to improve the country.

Several requests were reportedly made to Kiir to call for the SPLM politburo meeting but he turned them down, amid speculations that he may decide to either dissolve the party structures or dismiss some senior members.

KIIR SPEAKS OUT

However, while speaking at an event marking the eighth anniversary of the martyrs, Kiir said he sacked his long-serving vice president allegedly in response to calls from the people of South Sudan.

He accused Machar and Amum of showing disrespect and publicly discrediting the achievements of his administration in the media, rather than addressing their grievances through the correct channels and structures.

"I removed the former vice-president because he decided to go astray. He used the public media to discredit the government in which he was a party before the international community. This was an act of disrespect and [shows an] intention to hurt the image of this country", Kiir told the audience.

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