The rebellion against South Sudan’s First-Vice President Riek Machar is growing after his deputy, Henry Odwar, quit the transitional government and supported the move by army generals who claimed to have taken over the leadership of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
Mr Odwar, who is also the deputy commander-in-chief of the SPLM-IO, resigned his position as mining minister, convened a virtual meeting of the party’s supporters in the diaspora and civil society to castigate Dr Machar’s “weak” and “compromised” leadership, which could lead to the collapse of the movement.
The group, who included Ukini Michael Paulino, the SPLM-IO representative to the United Nations, Jordan Manpiny Long, a former representative to Ethiopia and Augustino Laku, a member of the National Liberation Council, have supported the Kit-Gwang Declaration led by Gen Simon Gatwech Dual allegedly ousted Dr Machar on August 3.
“We are dismayed by Dr Machar’s overt avoidance of the SPLM-IO Military Command structure and illegitimately dismissing and reassigning senior officers single-handedly. We are also devastated by the negligence and failure of his leadership regarding the abject conditions at the cantonment camps and training centres that have resulted in abandonment and deaths of some forces,” said the group in a communique.
They also questioned Dr Machar’s failure to push for genuine implementation of the September 2018 peace agreement and declared support for Gen Dual to steer the movement to a different level.
Further, a group of 85 volunteers and sympathisers of the movement in the United States also sent a letter supporting the coup and accused Dr Machar of succumbing to President Salva Kiir and negotiating a peace deal that is not in the best interest of the people of South Sudan
The latest developments have put Dr Machar in a difficult situation and could undermine his political standing in Juba as well as his control over the SPLM-IO armed groups, the majority of which are still scattered across the country.
Dr Machar has been facing some disquiet within the SPLM-IO for failing to push for genuine implementation of the peace agreement and the appointment of members of his family in the Cabinet.