South Sudan: Rebel Officer Quits, Urges Kiir and Machar to Step Aside
A senior military official of South Sudan’s main rebel group has quit and urged former leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir to surrender their positions.
Makuach Teny has defected from his position in the armed faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) and established his own group, the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A).
Calls on Kiir, Machar to step down
Teny has instated himself as the chairman and commander-in-chief of the NRM/A and his first statement has been to call on the country’s leaders to step down. He accuses Kiir and Machar of returning South Sudan to a state of war and insists the pair should not be allowed to retain their positions.
“There is need for Machar and Kiir to leave the power otherwise their coming together as leaders is a curse to South Sudanese [people]. No trust for Riek and Kiir anymore after putting the country back to war,” he told Sudan Tribune.
Teny says his former ally Machar and President Kiir should apologise to the people of South Sudan and surrender their positions so the country can move forward.
“The issue was very clear: it is unfair that both leaders have led bloodshed within the country [and] are still coming to rule the country. South Sudanese still live in fear as they think [the] same scenario will repeat itself again,” he said.
Defection ahead of transitional government
Critics have said Teny and other officials who defected the SPLM-IO last month only did so after they learnt they wouldn’t be appointed to high-profile roles under the transitional government established by Kiir and Machar.
Machar is due to return to South Sudan, from exile in Ethiopia, where he will be reinstated as the country’s vice-president – the role he had before President Kiir fired him in 2013.
The reunited pair are tasked with creating a transitional government in South Sudan and enforcing the nation’s peace deal, which would end more than two years of warfare between Machar and Kiir’s forces. Sceptics have raised questions over how much control the two leaders have over armed groups in the country.