Exclusive: South Sudan’s government divided over rebel advance team visit

Juba, December 9, 2015 (SSNA) — A government source who talked exclusively to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has told the SSNA on Wednesday that South Sudanese government’s position on the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement is not cohesive and that an elaborate strategy to disrupt the armed opposition’s plan to send its advance team to Juba to begin the implementation of the power-sharing deal is simply a daunting task; adding that the issue has already caused problems for the government.

The source, a high-ranking government official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the case and for fear of reprisal, revealed to the SSNA that deep division and power struggle among senior members of Salva kiir’s inner circle has created a serious issue, splitting “the once solid political block” into small sections ‘hostile to each other’.

“The president finds himself in a rough position. We have hard-headed individuals who are clearly not for peace and they basically want the war to continue; that is their views,” the source told the SSNA.

“The SPLM party in the government, the once solid political block is now a party of small sections hostile to each other. As I speak to you [SSNA] now, the government does not have any unified position on how it can implement the peace deal,” the source disclosed.

The source also revealed that the ruling elites divided themselves into three groups: The first group is led by President kiir, VP Igga, and foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The second group is headed by SPLA Chief of General Staff Paul Malong Awan and information minister Michael Makuei Lueth. The third group is being spearheaded by South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk.

The highly placed source described group one led by the presidency as the faction that wants peace to return to the violence-ravaged young country. The source said group two doesn’t want any peace, let alone the implementation of the peace pact, declaring group three as a “confused faction” without any real say throughout the peace talks.

The source also alleged that the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), a group run by Dinka Elders does not want the current peace agreement to stick because the elders believe that the deal threatens Kiir’s power. 

“We now have a country run by a mix of political and military leaders who cannot agree on a single point. I can tell you [SSNA] that the presidency is trying its best to abide by the IGAD-Plus’s peace rules; but those of Paul Malong and Michael Makuei are the worst enemies of South Sudan,” the source declared.

"I think the JCE is a disruptive organization that must be banned from talking about national issues," the source asserted.

The source further told the South Sudan News Agency that President kiir is considering removing people he labeled as “anti-peace elements” who want to tarnish his image both internally and internationally.

Rumor engulfs South Sudanese capital

For the last three days, South Sudan’s capital, Juba, has been engulfed by an ousting rumor that the planned visit of rebel advance team of at least 500 people scheduled to arrive in Juba at any day is actually a pretext for an official toppling of kiir’s regime.

The rumor has become the main talking point in the somewhat ghost-city, where large areas of the capital are still empty after residents fled to the UNMISS-run camps for their lives.

Fighting broke out in mid-December of 2013 between diverse units of presidential guards after many months of political fracas between senior leaders of the ruling SPLM party.

More than 2.3 million South Sudanese fled their homes, hundreds of thousands fled to the neighboring countries, and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the nearly two-year old civil war.

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