JUBA – The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and Special Representative of the Secretary General Nicholas Haysom said recent political unrest in Sudan has undermined efforts to resolve the dispute within the main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, led by the country’s First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
General Simon Gatwech Dual who was then the SPLA-IO chief of staff attempted in August to remove First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny as chairman and commander in chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/SPLA-IO) claiming that the prominent opposition leader had surrendered to the government of President Salva Kiir.
After depositing Machar, General Simon Gatwech Dual declared himself as interim leader of the opposition movement.
On 7th August, deadly fighting erupted between rival factions of Dr. Machar which left more than 30 soldiers dead in Upper near the White Nile bordering Sudan.
Machar and his allies immediately dismissed Gen. Gatwech’s attempt, popularly known as Kitgwang Declaration, as a work of peace spoilers such as the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit which it had accused of undermining the implementation of the security arrangements provided for in the 2018 peace agreement.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council in New York on Thursday, Haysom said efforts to resolve the SPLM/A-IO split with its Kitgwang factions have been undermined by the political crisis in Sudan.
“Since my last briefing, mediation efforts that began in Khartoum—seeking to bridge the divide on Chapter II issues, and to heal the SPLM/A-IO split with its Kitgwang faction—have been undermined by the political crisis in Sudan,” Haysom said in his address to UN Security Council in New York on Thursday.
The UN diplomat blamed the splinter of the SPLA-IO on the parties’ failure to end the deadlock over the ratio of the unified command structures essential for overseeing the graduation of Necessary Unified Forces.
“The failure of the parties to reach an agreement on command ratios has promoted a fracturing of the SPLM/A-IO,” he said.
The parties are yet to reach a deal on the ratio of the unified command structure, making it difficult to appoint nominees for the key positions at the highest level of the defense and security services.
The parties met in Addis Ababa in 2019 and agreed to divide the army command positions 50/50 between South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the entire opposition, but President Salva Kiir in recent months has been demanding 60 percent of all the positions and forces composition.