JUBA – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has hinted at accepting Johnson Olony Thabo as governor of Upper Nile state, warning SPLM-IO leader and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny who nominated him will bear consequences that may arise from the opposition commander’s appointment.
Speaking to religious leaders at his residence at J1 on Friday, Kiir said he would also want Machar to make a written commitment accepting responsibility if any problem arises from the appointment of General Johnson Olony Thabo as governor of the oil-rich Upper Nile state, saying the decision to appoint him is not an easy task.
“The appointment of Johnson Olony as a Governor of Upper Nile State is not an easy task. If it is somebody who will cause fighting or conflict, like in Upper Nile, I say ‘no’, because it will be on my neck later in the day,” Kiir said at the ceremony.
“So, if Machar is to insist, he must first make a written document to tell the people of South Sudan that he will be responsible for any bad thing that is going to happen when I appoint Olony,” he added.
General Johnson Olony was nominated by Machar on June 24, but wasn’t appointed when Kiir announced state governors on June 29, saying he had informed Machar that Olony is a warmonger who he said would make reconciliation efforts in the state difficult.
Machar’s group later issued a statement saying that it was surprised when Olony was not appointed, and has since insisted that it will not change Olony for another person.
Earlier this month, several senior government officials told Sudans Post that General Johnson Olony Thabo’s appointment has been accepted by President Salva Kiir and was about to be appointed.
Last week, the SPLM-IO came out to announce that they had been informed by the President that he had accepted to appoint him.
Senior government officials close to Kiir have described General Olony as an “active soldier who has not fully subjected himself to the political development in Juba, and is not “within territories that are controlled by SPLM-IO or by the government.”
Dr. Riek Machar’s office, however, dismissed the assertion, saying that Olony is “a general in the SPLA-IO which is a recognized army.”
President Salva Kiir, however, assured the religious leaders that he is ready to form State and Local Governments as soon as Machar and other party leaders submit the list of their nominees.
“I am still waiting for my First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar to give me the handwritten undertaking letter as we have agreed,” he maintained.
The President also made assurances that “the country will not go back to war.”