A top South Sudan rebel general, Peter Gatdet, says he and other powerful commanders have split from their Riek Machar, rejecting ongoing peace talks.
Gatdet made the announcement Tuesday affirming he had toppled Machar only weeks before the peace deal can be signed to give the rebel chief First Vice President position.
In a statement, Gatdet said Generals of the SPLM/A in Opposition have lost confidence in the leadership of Dr Riek Machar Teny hence he ceases to be the Chairman and Commander in Chief of SPLM/A-IO.
“Therefore, any peace deal that he signs with the government of South Sudan will not be legitimate and will not be respected by the SPLM/A-IO led by Generals,” Gatdet pointed out dismissing the ongoing talks in Addis Ababa Ethiopia as Juba-inclined.
He accused Machar of failing to keep the movement together and monopolising it for his personal gains.
Gatdet said they were reinvigorating the mission of the opposition; ie, regime change through elections, sustainable peace and development with the help of locals and the international community.
He said the agreement signed without the full representation of everyone was likely to collapse citing the fact that Machar was already in cohorts with president Salva Kiir after being promised a juicy office.
“We strongly reject IGAD proposal that gives leadership of the transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) to both President Kiir and Riek Machar. TGNU should be led by South Sudanese who have the country and its people at heart,” he said.
He copied the statement to IGAD, African Union, Troika countries and United States President Barack Obama.
Machar fires more generals, officials
Gen. Gatdet defected from Kiir’s command in 2013 at the beginning of the conflict and joined Machar taking Bor town twice.
He was later appointed commander of operations in the Upper Nile State only to be fired alongside General Gathoth Gatkuoth.
Machar once more issued an order dated 6 August, relieving Oyet Nathaniel Pierino from his position as chairman of national committee for political mobilization and orientation, and reappointed him as governor of the newly created Imatong state in Eastern Equatoria, per the rebels proposed 21 federal states in South Sudan.
According to Sudan Tribune, Machar also relieved Major General Mabor Marier Makoi as governor of Rumbek state and appointed Major General Khamis Abdel Latif Chawaul, replacing Makoi as new governor of Rumbek state. Chawaul was previously in charge of rebel forces in the state.
He then appointed Major General Wesley Welebe Samson as governor of Mid-West Equatoria state.
Samson has been leading an anti-government force in the government’s controlled Western Equatoria state.
He also appointed Matata Frank as governor of Yei River state, which is curved from Central Equatoria state in accordance with the proposed new states based on elevation of the old colonial districts in South Sudan.
The rebel leader further relieved Timothy Tot Chol from his position as chairman of national committee for Federal System Development. No replacement was yet named.
Machar orders new recruits
Cornered Machar has now ordered rebels to recruit massively.
In a speech at a training college in Maiwut in Upper Nile state over the weekend, Machar rallied the 500 graduates to challenge the government of Salva Kiir.
The newest round of graduates will become platoon commanders, military intelligence officers and tank commanders.
“You should be challenging the Kiir government by demonstrating the loyalty, patriotism and good leadership after finishing the courses,” Machar is quoted as saying.