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Machar plans to launch separate political party

Waakhe Simon
The SPLM-IO, led by South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar, says it is planning to launch its own separate party, dividing it from the ruling SPLM party headed by President Salva Kiir.
24.05.2016  |  Juba, South Sudan
Riek Machar speaking to the press in Juba on March 24, 2012. (photo: The Niles | Akim Mugisa)
Riek Machar speaking to the press in Juba on March 24, 2012. (photo: The Niles | Akim Mugisa)

Officials say consultations within the party members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) have started as part of a move to form a separate party.

William Ezekiel, a top member of the SPLM-IO, said on May 23, that frustration in the ranks of his party about the implementation of the Arusha Reunification Agreement compelled the SPLM-IO considering the creation of a separate political body.

When we come up with a party, we come up with a very strong party.

“This will also be discussed at the level of liberation council and meanwhile also at the convention level,” Ezekiel said.

The Arusha Reunification is an agreement signed by factions of the ruling SPLM party that split amid a political dispute within the party and later blew up into an extended civil war across the country.

Brokered by the Tanzanian ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the deal attempted to reunite the three SPLM Factions namely SPLM ruling party under President Salva Kiir, SPLM-IO under Machar and Former Detainees under the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum.

Ezekiel accused President Kiir of suspending the implementation of the Arusha agreement earlier this year when his party conducted a convention that unilaterally passed policies. Although some members of the SPLM-IO, including the former Chief Negotiator Taban Deng Gai, attended the meeting, Ezekiel said that the meeting was not inclusive.

Ezekiel did not outline further details as how far the creation of the SPLM-IO party has gone.

“Now we are just making consultations, we want to see to it that when we come up with a party, we come up with a very strong party,” Ezekiel said.

Some members of the SPLM-IO had seen social media postings that their party intends to split from the SPLM.

Paul Akol Kordit, a senior member of the SPLM ruling party allied with President Kiir, said it is up to the SPLM-IO members to either remain as part of the SPLM ruling party or peacefully form a separate political party.

You can choose to be what you want to be.

“This is normal. It is part of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of organisation that you can choose to be what you want to be,” Akol says, adding that “on that note therefore, it should not be a problem at all if at all the SPLM-IO, or some members of the SPLM-IO, feel that they need not to stand with the SPLM”.

Akol dismissed reports by the SPLM-IO that Kiir has suspended the implementation of the Arusha Reunification agreement.

Ezekiel said the SPLM-IO still respects the Arusha Reunification agreement.

The SPLM-IO parted from the SPLM in December 2013 and became a military movement that fought President Kiir’s government for over two years, killing tens of thousands of South Sudanese in the process.

A regionally mediated peace deal by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) brought the different factions together last August, but a fledgling unity government has only recently been formed and it remains to be seen if the former rivals can work together.

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