JUBA, JANUARY 25th 2023 (SUDANS POST) – South Sudan opposition leader and former SPLA-IO military chief General Simon Gatwech Dual has said that President Salva Kiir Mayardit was lying when he blamed yesterday the 2013 “coup” on First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Vice President Taban Deng Gai, saying Kiir himself is to blame for the violence.
In a statement signed by his military spokesman Brig. Gen. Alfred Gach Thot, Gatwech said Machar and Taban were defending themselves in 2013 and that President Kiir had planned to kill the two senior government officials to silent dissent within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) ahead of elections then slated for k2013.
“This is a complete lie. Taban and Riek did not plan a coup and it is Kiir who planned that coup in order to silent the two men in order to manipulate elections that he was going to lose. So, what he said yesterday is not true. If there is anyone to blame, it is Kiir alone who tried to kill everyone who was against him in the SPLM party,” he said.
Gatwech said that he made the statement to dismiss the claim by President Kiir because he knows Taban and Machar are in a very vulnerable position and are under detention in Juba and that he is sure they won’t be able to response in that position.
“I know Taban and Riek are being detained by Kiir in Juba and that is why we want to tell the world that Taban and Riek did not do any coup in 2013. It is President Salva alone who planned the coup in order to frustrate efforts ahead of elections which he was otherwise going to lose in 2015,” the controversial opposition commander said.
The remarks by the opposition commander comes a day after Kiir said during the swearing ceremony of SPLM Secretary-General yesterday at the SPLM House in Juba in which he blamed FVP Machar and Vice President Taban for attempting a coup in 2013, and warned them against attempting another one which he said will not go unaccounted for.
“In the first coup attempt in 2013, I did not arrest Riek Machar and his in-law Taban Deng Gai. They lit the fire and fled and left their children and when I got them, I called Gen. James Hoth (then Chief of General Staff) and told him to take the children to his home and look after them until the airport reopens,” Kiir said.
“After the airport resumed operations, Gen. Hoth sent them to join their parents. I believe that if they were the ones who had got my son, they would have not left him,” the president further added.
NO EVIDENCE OF COUP
Fighting erupted in Juba in December 2013 following disagreements between troops loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to First Vice President Machar over who should lead the SPLM party for elections slated then for 2013 leading to killing of ethnic Nuer civilians in the capital Juba and triggering largest refugee crises in Africa.
In a report published in 2015, the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) concluded that “widespread and systematic” killings took place in Juba in December 2013, with violence later spreading elsewhere. The AU investigation found that the killings in Juba were carried out pursuant to a state policy and were coordinated and possibly also planned.
AU investigators found no evidence of a coup attempt as claimed by President Kiir but instead concluded that a gunfight within the Presidential Guards was the immediate trigger for further violence in which “Dinka members of the Presidential guard and other security forces targeted Nuer soldiers and civilians… killing Nuer soldiers and civilians in and near their homes.”
“From all the information available to the Commission, the evidence does not point to a coup,” concluded the AU Commission of Inquiry.