JUBA – An attempt by South Sudan’s head of National Security Service General Akol Koor and President Salva Kiir’s security advisor Tut Gatluak to convince SPLM-IO sector one commander General Johnson Olony Thabo to abandon the main armed opposition group and travel to Juba for a possible deployment in the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) has failed after a meeting conducted with Olony by the senior South Sudan government officials in Khartoum.
Olony, a controversial commander of the opposition SPLA-IO, had been nominated by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, who is also the SPLM-IO leader, for governorship of the oil-rich Upper Nile state in June 2020. However, due to assertions by President Kiir that Olony is a ‘warmonger’, the opposition commander could not be appointed and a standoff between Kiir and Machar over Olony continued for several months until Machar agreed to replace him last month.
Since then, President Salva Kiir had been accused by opposition officials of trying to cause disunity among the opposition group as his rejection of Olony and the subsequent replacement of Olony by Machar sparked opposition anger against the first vice president, blaming him of abandoning the group’s principles by replacing its candidate due to pressure and refusal by Kiir who is a party the revitalized peace agreement that gave Upper Nile to the SPLM-IO.
Speaking to Sudans Post in an interview this morning, a senior opposition official in Khartoum said a meeting aimed at persuading Olony to defect from the SPLM-IO and return to Juba on the promise of being appoint as the SSPDF sector one commander ended without agreement after General Johnson Olony said he cannot trust the regime and President Salva Kiir Mayardit because he has previously refused to appoint Olony as governor of Upper Nile state.
“There was a meeting on Sunday between a delegation from South Sudan led by Tut Gatluak and General Akol Khor and General Johnson Olony Thabo. The purpose of the meeting was for the government to convince General Johnson Olony to leave the SPLM-IO and join the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba,” the senior opposition official who refused to be named said from the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
“They made one important promise that General Johnson Olony has totally rejected. They said General Johnson Olony will be appointed within a week of returning to Juba as SSPDF sector one commander in Upper Nile state if he agrees to abandon the SPLM-IO. General Johnson made it very clear and asked them ‘why would I be appointed today when I was rejected to be appointed as governor of Upper Nile state yesterday by the President?’ and this is a very important question from General Johnson Olony,” the official added.
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