“Defect in peace; don’t malign Machar,’’ SPLM/A-IO warns

<strong>“Defect in peace; don’t malign Machar,’’ SPLM/A-IO warns</strong>
SPLM/A-IO Chairman Dr. Riek Machar addresses the party members during the opening of registration in Juba. [Photo: Daniel Garang]

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) has warned some unnamed individuals against using the name of the First Vice President, Riek Machar, to seek political favours.

 The SPLM/A-IO claimed the said individuals fake defections to party’s splinter group by claiming that they are dumping the opposition party while in real sense, their intention is to get financial favours and seek mileage.  

The party was reacting to Monday’s media report quoting some disgruntled SPLA-IO officers who shifted allegiance to the Kit-Gwang faction of Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual.

The 11 officers led by Brig. Gen. Bandak Chuol Dhol, accused Dr. Machar and among others of nepotism and corruption.

 “We want to make it clear that we switched our loyalty from the SPLM-IO led by Dr Riek Machar to SPLM-IO led by Gen. Simon Gatwech,” the group claimed in a statement on Sunday.

 “Riek Machar always put his relatives first when there is something good. For example, his relatives are now holding many senior positions in the transitional Government.”

They added, “There is a wide spread of corruption in the SPLM/A-IO under the leadership of Riek Machar. Some senior commanders sell rations and weapons. But Riek Machar does not say anything concerning these practices even when they are reported to him.”

Rubbishes claims

However, the office of the First Vice President denied any defection among the SPLM/A-IO loyalists, rubbishing all the group’s allegations.

Machar’s Acting Press Secretary, Goanar Gordon Yien and the Spokesperson of the SPLA-IO Col. Lam Paul Gabriel denied any knowledge of defection among loyalists of the SPLM/-IO.

“We have not heard of any defection but if it is true these are anti-peace and people who want to derail the implementation of the revitalised peace agreement, and they want to tarnish the image of the SPLM-IO Chairperson,” Yien.

“The SPLM-IO is after peace and does not condone defection at this moment so anyone who defects should stop tarnishing the image of the SPLM-IO leadership,” he warned.

Equally, Col. Lam said the SPLM/A-IO respects individuals’ free will to shift allegiance but they should not use Dr. Machar’s name to be recognised by their acceptors.  

“We have no information of anyone’s defection from [SPLA-IO]. So if there is anyone joining Gatwech Dual that is an individual’s free will but [they] should not be claiming that they are members of SPLM-IO to gain recognition,” Col Lam warned. 

He added, “I have checked all our units, and we do not have anyone that defected from us to Gatwech Dual. Whoever is claiming tribalism and nepotism from Dr. Riek Machar is just trying to gain recognition. These days, people used the name of our chairman and commander in chief to get support and also to get recognition as well to feel big. It is an option also to get money and a way of survival for others.”

The City Review could not independently verify the defection. However, since the revitalised peace agreement was signed, Dr. Machar’s camp has lost a significant number of officers and senior party officials who defected to opposition groups. 

The climax was felt in August 2021 with thousands led by Gen. Gatwech and his former deputy Gen. Johnson Olony, giving birth to the ongoing conflict in some parts of the Greater Upper Nile region which has displaced thousands already.