SPLM-IO says deadlock over swapping of defense and interior ministries remains

SPLM-IO Director of Information and First Vice President Machar’s Press Secretary. [Photo courtesy]
SPLM-IO Director of Information and First Vice President Machar’s Press Secretary. [Photo courtesy]

JUBA, OCTOBER 2, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – South Sudan’s main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar has said that the deadlock between the group and the ruling SPLM faction under President Salva Kiir remains unresolved.

This is despite the appointment, last week, of Angelina Teny by President Kiir as the new interior minister several months after her removal from the ministry of defense.

Kiir had in March removed Mrs. Teny as defense minister and then swapped the ministry of defense, which was allocated to the SPLM-IO under the revitalized peace deal, with the ministry of interior which until that month belonged to Kiir’s party.

His party said at the time that the president wanted to have control of the country’s defense sector as the country’s commander in chief and that the interior ministry will then now be given to the SPLM-IO to buy off the defense ministry.

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However, this decision was not taken lightly by the SPLM-IO. The group said that the swapping and the unilateral removal of the defense minister violates the revitalized peace agreement and accused the SPLM-IG of actions that may result in the collapse of the peace agreement.

In June, information minister Michael Makuei told reporters during a press conference in Juba that Kiir and Machar had met and resolved the matter, but then reaffirmed Kiir’s power as the appointing or supreme authority that has final say in the nomination and appointment of officials.

“We are waiting for the minister of interior to be appointed, the deputy minister of defence to be appointed, the deputy minister of interior to be relieved, and another to be appointed in his place,” Makuei said at the time.

This claim was later dismissed by the SPLM-IO as untrue. Puok Both Baluang, the acting press secretary in the office of the first vice president said that Kiir and Machar did not meet to resolve the matter as stated by Makuei and demanded that Makuei provide evidence to support the claim that the matter had been resolved.

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“The sole principle’s meeting that addressed the unilateral Decree & Order took place on 10/3/2023. There was no consensus at the end of the meeting. May the SPLM-IG demonstrate when the agreement was reached because the burden of proof rests with the party making the statement,” he said.

Speaking to Sudans Post on Sunday, Baluang said that despite Teny’s appointment as interior minister, the deadlock over the swapping of the ministries and other issues remains and that Machar had only agreed to submit Teny’s name in order to fill the power vacuum created by the absence of the minister.

“I would like to stress that the deadlock still remains, because it was not only about the swap or the grabbing of the ministry of defense and the removal of Hon. Angelina by President Salva Kiir,” Baluang said.

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“His Excellency the first vice president and the chair of the party has made a decision to submit the name for the position of the minister of interior because the position has been vacant for a long time and we recognize the crucial impact of the absence of a full minister in the ministry,” he added.

He further said that the group “the rest of the deadlock still remains, because the issue is not only about that ministry. There are some issues that need to be discussed by the two principals.”