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South Sudan’s politicians slammed for beating drums of war

By Simon Deng

Politicians in the coalition government have been blamed for putting the country on knife edge amid ongoing bitter fallout over the security arrangements.     

President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar recently disagreed over the ratios within the unified army command structure.                                                                                                       

Peter Lam Both, the Interim Secretary General for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) under President Kiir has warned politicians against reckless actions that could drag the country back to war.

“The recent political entanglements among the parties to the revitalized peace deal that create unnecessary tensions is engineered by disgruntled politicians,” Both told journalists in Juba on Monday.

“Those who have been beating the drum of war for the last few days in Juba are disgruntled individuals and politicians most of whom live in diaspora, they do not live here in Juba, the war in South Sudan is a struggle for power,” He disclosed.

This came after President Kiir spoke about not returning the country to war after his First Vice President Machar last week withdrew his SPLM/A-in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) from the security mechanisms.

SPLM/A-IO that fought for years against the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) since 2013 had earlier on complained of “unprovoked” attacks on it’s positions from the latter.

Under the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan the parties are supposed to share 50: 50 ratios within the unified army command to take charge of the 83,000 unified forces.

However, recent disagreements between the parties has evoked fears that the peace deal could collapse under another round of fighting reminiscent of July 2016.

 “If some leaders do not see themselves in their party as getting lucrative political position, they defect and join other groups in protest to the decision of their party leader,” said Both.

Machar’s former chief –of- staff Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual broke away in August 2021 from the main-stream SPLM/A-IO, accusing his boss Machar of doing little to push President Kiir’s SPLM-In Government to implement fully the security arrangements.

                                                                                                                                                                                 “The SPLM would like to call upon all parties signatory to the revitalized peace agreement to remain true and committed to the peaceful conclusion of this agreement, let us not stir up unnecessary dust to necessitate extension to the transitional period, only election will free us from these unnecessary entanglements,” said Both. 

“We have impressed upon our leadership to expedite and fast track the unification of forces and the implementation of other key components of the agreement so that we catch up with the deadline,” he added.

The transitional period is set to end in February 2023, and yet several critical tasks such as graduation of the unified forces, enactment of the permanent constitution, and establishment of the transitional justice and accountability mechanisms under chapter five are yet to be implemented.

Both moved to allay fears that the peace deal was on the precipice of collapse, saying it is still on track.   

“There are leaders from SPLM who defected and joined SPLM-IO for possibility of greener pasture, on the other side the same is true for leaders of SPLM-IO and their supporters who defected and joined the SPLM,” he said.      

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