JUBA – South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IG) has issued a statement responding to the SPLM-IO’s recent press releases on the developments in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. Below is full text statement signed by SPLM Secretary General Peter Lam Both.
Response to SPLM/A-IO and TRIOKA statements on the implementation of R-ARCSS
In the last few days, there has been a flurry of statements issued by the SPLM/A-IO leadership and their component members in the security mechanisms namely: JDB, JTSC, JMCC, SDSR Board, CTSAMM, SSM, NTC and R-JMEC voicing a great concern that these mechanisms have been dysfunctional in the implementation of the agreement and this has been linked to the recent incidents of fighting in Unity and Upper Nile states. Their decision to pull out from participation in these mechanisms was approved by their Political Bureau in a statement issued on March 22, 2022. However, yesterday, on March 27, 2022, it seemed to have been reversed by their leader.
Immediately after the SPLM/A-IO statements, TROIKA embassies in Juba released a joint statement on March 23, 2022 condemning what they called reported “SSPDF attacks on SPLM/A-IO positions in Jekou, Upper Nile state and Unity state over the last two months.” TROIKA went on to call the defections from SPLM/A-IO to the Government as “incentivized.”
Furthermore, on March 26, 2022, Dr. Riek Machar, First Vice President of the Republic, Chairman and C-in-C of the SPLM/A-IO issued a statement rejecting the decree issued on March 25, 2022 by the President of the Republic on the unification of Command of the Unified Forces saying that it was not agreed to by the parties to the agreement. He went on to write to the Guarantors of R-ARCSS about a menu of issues that he describes as way forward and for them to intervene in what he described as “deteriorating security situation in South Sudan.”
It is on the bases of the above statements that the SPLM would like to make a statement. First, we want to assure the people of South Sudan that the Revitalized Peace Agreement is in tack and that there is no return to war. Utterances by unauthorized individuals from all sides to such eventuality are uncalled for and regretted. Those who have been beating the drums of war for the last few days are disgruntled individuals and politicians most of whom live in Diaspora.
Second, who is fooling who in this situation? We live in South Sudan and everyone in this country has been following with keen interest what has been happening in our country. We have been saying that the war in South Sudan is a war for power-sharing. If some leaders don’t see themselves in their party as getting lucrative political positions, they defect and join another group in protest to the decision of their party leader. Dr. Riek Machar of all people knows this more than anyone and we had hoped that he would not blame the disintegration of his party on other people or political parties.
There are leaders from SPLM who defected and joined SPLM/A-IO for possibility of greener pastures on the other side. The same is true for leaders from SPLM/A-IO and their supporters who defected and joined the SPLM. In 2015, for example, the majority of Generals who fought the war in 2013-2014 on the side of SPLM/A-IO defected and either established independent movements some of which are now in SSOA or joined the Government. Who incentivized their defection in 2015?
After the signature of the R-ARCSS and formation of the Revitalized Government of National Unity, mass defections from SPLM/A-IO were witnessed as a protest to the decisions of their leadership for failing to appoint them in the government positions they wanted. Who paid Dr. Riek Machar to make such decisions so that his party leaders could run in disarray from him? Had it not been such decisions, General Simon Gatwech Dual and General Johnson Olony could not have defected and form the Kitgwang Group. And the list of defections is known and it continues…..
In the recent developments in Unity and Upper Nile states which have been used as a pretext to blame defections on others, it is important to make the contexts very clear for those who do not know.
First, in Unity state, Kaljak and Mirmir areas are under firm control of SPLM/A-IO forces. Some members of these forces were frustrated by the way their leader in Juba has been managing their affairs. For that reason, a split developed within their rank and file fitting the forces of Maj. Gen. Tito Biel Wie who commanded Division 4 A in sector two and his Deputy Maj. Gen. John Turuk Kor. After fighting among them, Maj. Gen.Tito Biel prevailed and maintains his position under what he called “Real SPLM/A-IO forces,” but not under Dr. Riek Machar and not under anyone else.
In Upper Nile state, there have been constant defections of individuals and groups since 2015 because Nuer came to the realization that they were misled in 2013 that the war was between the Nuer and Dinka. Now that people have seen Dr. Riek and Salva Kiir serving in the same government and there is no more talk about Dinka-Nuer war in the SPLM/A-IO leadership, people feel deceived that they fought for what was not the real cause of war. For such reasons, mass defections from various counties of Upper Nile state followed.
Recently, Maj Gen. James Kor Chuol Giet, who was commander of Division 5 defected from SPLM/A-IO in Malual Gahoth payam and there have been constant clashes over a period of many months with in the rank and file of SPLM/A-IO. This finally led to the battle of Jekou from 19-20 March 2022 in which Brig. Gen. Gatluak Bie Tut died. Then the SPLM/A-IO leadership in Juba claimed that their defections are facilitated by the Government and that the SSPDF involved physically dislodging their forces in Jekou payam. We challenge them to provide evidence to this effect. The reality is that Dr. Machar and his supporters know that he is not in full control of his forces. It is not that they are paid to defect. No one can purchase the whole movement even if funds are available.
The fact is that frustration is in every party. SPLM has also lost senior cadres to SPLM/A-IO which are known by names. However, we never blamed SPLM/A-IO leadership because such is an individual decision to join another party. And there is nothing written in R-ARCSS that people should be prevented from joining any other political party until the interim period is over. Why would an internal IO fighting be blamed on the Government or SPLM? Is it the function of SPLM to maintain harmony in the SPLM/A-IO?
In conclusion, the SPLM would like to call up on all the parties signatory to R-ARCSS to remain true and committed to the peaceful conclusion of this peace agreement. We have impressed up on our leadership to expedite and fast track the unification of forces and the implementation of other key components of the agreement so that we catch up with deadlines. Let us not stir up unnecessary dust to necessitate extensions to the interim period as some of our partners have been yearning for. Only elections will free us from these unnecessary entanglements.
Cde. Peter Lam Both,
SPLM Interim Secretary General,
SPLM National Secretariat Headquarters,
Republic of South Sudan,