Infighting continues between factions in the SPLM-IO group led by South Sudan FVP Riek Machar

South Sudan opposition agrees to cease infighting after violent clashes

By Simon Deng

Rival factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO) have agreed on Thursday to cease hostilities following deadly clashes last week that left 34 soldiers dead on both sides near the Sudan border.

Puok Both Buluang, Director of Information and Public Relations for SPLM/A-IO faction under First Vice President Riek Machar revealed that both sides have agreed to cease hostilities.

“The breakaway group from the SPLA-IO calling themselves Kitguang declaration called  Machar twice they held two phone call discussions, Gen. Johnson Olony is the one who initiated it he informed Machar about his group’s acceptance for ceasefire,” said Baluang in Juba.

This comes in the aftermath of clashes last week at Magenis near the Sudan border between troops loyal to Machar and his former Chief of Staff Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual.

The fighting followed the recent declaration by senior officers of SPLA-IO led by Dual deposing Machar from the leadership of SPLM/A-IO while accusing him of nepotism and lacking strong leadership.

The breakaway faction also blamed the First Vice President in the transitional unity government formed in February last year of weakening the hand of the former rebel movement in the coalition government.

“The discussion was conducted in an amicable atmosphere, Machar told Olony that there is a need to resolve the differences on the incident (clashes) that happened in Magenis in Upper Nile state in peaceful manner,” said Baluang.

He disclosed that Machar and Olony also agreed to immediately send the Commissioner of Panyikang County to the County headquarter to assume his duties, adding that SPLM/A-IO is ready to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner.

“The two agreed to send Mustafa Gai, the Commissioner of Panyikang County to his headquarters so that he can assure the people that peace is there, they say they will maintain the communication,”  added Baluang.

“As SPLM/A-IO, we believe discussion in a peaceful manner is the only way to address our differences,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Salva Kiir has directed Machar and Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, Vice President for Service Cluster who belongs to the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) to name their respective nominees to be appointed into the unified command of the army.

South Sudan needs to establish the unified army command in order to speed up graduation of the 83,000 unified forces to take charge of security during the ongoing transitional period.

The troops comprised of police, army, intelligence and wild life are yet to be graduated.

The SPLM/A-IO waged more than six years of rebellion since December 2013 against President Salva Kiir before signing the 2018 revitalized peace deal in Ethiopia to end the conflict.

Years of conflict in the youngest nation killed tens of thousands and displaced over two million people both internally and externally.

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