John Garang’s son, Mabior Garang De Mabior, also (Chairperson) National Committee For Information And Public Relations has opened up on the reshuffle of Riek Machar’s commanders.
“The Leadership of the SPLM/SPLA would like to confirm to the public and the world, the relief of Major General Peter Gadet (D/CoGS for Operations), Major General Gatoath Gatkuoth (D/CoGSfor Logistics), and Major General James Koang (Division 1 Commander) of their respective commands.”
Mabior says Major General James Koang is promoted to Deputy Chief of General Staff for Operations, while Major General Olony is appointed as Special Division One Commander.
Major General Peter Gadet and Major General Gatoath Gatkuoth are yet to receive new assignments, which shall be done at the appropriate time.
“This reshuffle is purely an administrative exercise which is normal in any organization, and should not be a source of trepidation for members of the Movement.”
He adds: “The people’s Movement remains united and focused on bringing about fundamental change in the country through the IGAD Peace Process.”
He said the claims attributed to some diplomats of the Salva Kiir Administration are nothing but the wishful thinking of people who want to derail the impending peace agreement.
“The SPLM/SPLA remains committed to the Addis Ababa and Arusha initiatives to bring peace to South Sudan, and urges its members to remain focused; and reject the rumour mongering of the enemies of peace.”
“The SPLM/SPLA takes this opportunity to reiterates its position, that, the only civil resolution to the current conflict is a negotiated settlement.
And this can be achieved through the IGAD Plus Mechanism which has reached a very advanced stage.”
Is the opposition falling apart?
There are reports that the reshuffle was caused by major political and military differences.
For example, Radio Tamazuj, writes, Gathoth previously has objected to the “Arusha process” to reunify the ruling party SPLM – an initiative supported by Machar.
Lul Ruai, Machar’s former military spokesman who defected to the government several months ago, said there was “chaos” within Machar’s camp, predicting disintegration of the movement.
“Riek’s camp has begun in earnest to crumble from within. I saw it coming and made the right move. Riek has proved it once again that he does not have what it takes to lead a rebel movement. SPLM/SPLA IO is a sinking ship,” said Lul.
Casie Copeland, analyst for International Crisis Group, said that the dismissal of the generals stemmed from disagreements over the movement’s objectives besides the “increasing move towards SPLM affiliation.”
She pointed out that several of the discontent generals served during the previous war with the SSDF faction and not the SPLM/A.
Another observer, a member of SPLM-IO, said that Gathoth Gatkuoth and Peter Gatdet were planning to form their own movement, calling it the “Nuer Independence Movement.”
“The aim of the defection is their response to the anticipated peace deal which is spearheaded by the IGAD. They are not happy with the deal and instead they want to continue fighting,” he said.
He commented that SPLM-IO “is not a Nuer movement, it is for all South Sudanese and any decision to separate the nation will not be tolerated.”
Mabior on the other hand, insists these are rumours spread by “Ambassadors Gordon Buay and James Morgan”.
“The Chairman has made a simple reshuffle which should not be cause for alarm.”
He says when President Salva Kiir took the Governor of Northern Bhargazal and appointed him as the Army Chief of General Staff, and sacked General James Hoth, it did not cause a split in the Administration of Salva Kiir.
“Those spreading rumors that the movement is divided are people who want to derail the impending peace of August 17…it is wishful thinking…he SPLM/SPLA in Opposition is solid and is here to stay…and the Salva Kiir Administration should cease from this dangerous adventurism that will lead them nowhere and focus on the IGAD Plus as a way of ending the conflict…the Salva Kiir and Yoweri Museveni Administrations should understand that there is no other way out…”