JUBA – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, let by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny won’t participate in the upcoming Upper Nile state conference, according to a senior opposition official who said he has direct knowledge of the SPLM-IO plan to boycott the conference meant to bring together bitter Upper Nile state communities.
Olony was nominated by Machar on June 24 for governorship of the oil-rich Upper Nile state, but President Kiir who has the power to bless nominees has since refused to appoint him, saying the opposition commander, who has refused to return to Juba before his appointment, is a warmonger who he said would jeopardize reconciliation efforts in the northern oil-rich state.
In mid-December, Kiir and Machar agreed during a meeting at the state-house J1 to conduct a conference of reconciliation between the Upper Nile state ethnic communities against differences and ethnic sentiments imposed by the seven-year-old conflict that has seen millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed.
Speaking to Sudans Post on Saturday, senior SPLM-IO official and group’s member to the National Liberation Council, Dut Majokdit, said the Machar-led movement does not plan to participate in the Upper Nile conference unless President Salva Kiir Mayardit shows ‘leadership’ to and appoint General Olony who he said would come to Juba after appointment to participate in the conference.
“There is no official statement [from the leadership] whether the SPLM-IO will take part in the conference or not. But for what I know, the SPLM-IO will not participate in the Conference unless General Johnson is appointed to participate in the conference of reconciliation between the people of Upper Nile state,” Majokdit said.
The senior opposition commander said most communities in the Upper Nile state have issued several statements rejecting the steering committee appointed by President Salva Kiir – including himself – to organize the conference, saying it won’t make sense for the SPLM-IO to take part in a conference boycotted by the communities it was meant for.
“The idea of the conference is good, but the process is wrong. The communities have Rejected the conference. So nobody will go to the conference since it was convened for the Communities to dialogue,” the senior opposition official who spoke to Sudans Post from the country’s capital Juba on phone concluded.