JUBA – South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party led by President Salva Kiir and the main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation-in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny have differed on who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Speaking during the launch of SPLM State General Headquarters in Bor on Saturday, Jacob Akec Dengdit, Deputy Governor of Jonglei State said Dr. Machar is no longer the Commander-in-chief of the SPLA-IO effective from the graduation of the first batch of the unified army.
“Dr. Riek is no longer commander-in-chief because what we signed, we should respect them; he is now the First Vice President and the chairman of your party, SPLM-IO,” Deng said while addressing members of the SPM-IO during the launch.
“The unification has already been done, and we now have one commander-in-chief. If you are to go through phases again, you are destroying the agreement.”
Regina Joseph, the SPLM-IO Interim Secretary General said First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar is still the Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA-IO forces until the unification process is completed.
“Dr. Machar is still the Commander-in-Chief of SPLA-IO forces and that is what the agreement says. The agreement says when the unified forces are formed, unified, graduated, and finalize, he is going to be the deputy of the Commander-in-chief of the unified forces,” Ms. Joseph said.
She said Dr. Machar will cease to be Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA-IO when the unification and deployment of the second phase are completed.
“He is still the Commander-in-chief of our forces until phase two is completed. When phase two is completed then that title will be taken away from him,” she said.
“But if it is not completed, he is still the Commander-in-chief of his forces, we still have forces outside and we still have forces in the cantonment. Who is going to command those forces? I don’t know why people think in the other way.”