President Salva Kiir has directed the SPLM National Liberation Council (NLC) to replace the party’s deputy chairperson despite the recent protest by the SPLM-IO over the same move.
President Kiir’s directive is in line with the October 2022 decision taken by the SPLM Political Bureau the removal of First Vice President Riek Machar and Pagan Amum from its membership.
The party argues that the Arusha reunification deal was complete.
In his opening remarks during the NLC extraordinary meeting yesterday, Kiir, who is the chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), directed PB members to actualise the decision that will remove his peace partner from the summit of the party’s leadership.
“I call on the NLC to discuss and pass the following items in the agenda: the NLC needs to approve the replacement of members of NLC who died defected or incapacitated in accordance with the recommendation of SPLM in the state and administrative areas,” he ordered.
He argued that the move would “empower their chairman to fill the position of the deputy chairman”, who happened to be Dr Machar.
The head of state also directed the formalization of the plan to expand the NLC by adding new members.
“To approve the expansion of the NLC from the chairman’s nominee list of 2008 by adding a few members for fair representation of states and administrative areas in the political bureau,” he said.
Kiir added that all the replacements made are in line with the SPLM constitution and the Arusha agreement.
He said that following the Arusha Agreement of 2015 between the SPLM and other SPLM splinter groups, it was assumed that members of these groups would return to SPLM as recommended by guarantors. This was after the SPLM constitution was amended in 2016 to incorporate the Arusha agreement and accommodate some members.
“Today many of our cadres who signed the Arusha agreement have returned to the party, with the exception of a few who decided to form their own political parties,” Kiir said.
“For that reason, the party is now declared united and the implementation of the Arusha agreement is now complete,” he remarked, adding the decision would help SPLM members make independent decisions on the party’s activities.
The president said the approved SPLM basic document entailing the SPLM code of conduct and financial management would also form the next discussion.
He appealed to the SPLM members to work hard in order to win the heart of the citizens in order to remain in power.
“We need to work hard to win the confidence of our people and unite them for the nation and state-building efforts.”
In October, the SPLM Acting Secretary-General, Peter Lam Both declared that the two top politicians—Machar of SPLM-IO and Pagan Amum of Real SPLM— who were serving as deputy party’s chairman and party’s secretary-general respectively lost their membership after forming their own parties.
“The political Bureau also recommended to the National Liberation Council the replacement of comrade Pagan Amum and comrade Riek Machar from the structure of the SPLM as they already forfeited from their membership by establishing other political parties,” Lam said.
The decision triggered a backlash from SPLM-IO, with the party’s leadership accusing SPLM of making a unilateral decision over a matter in which they have no final say over.
Puok Both Baluang, the Director for Information and Public Relations and Press Secretary in the office of the First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, said the decision was misguided as there was “no rightful owner of SPLM.”
“We want to categorically state that none of these factions can claim to be the SPLM, no faction can dismiss any member of the other factions from SPLM. For more clarity, the SPLM is the three factions united together. A decision of any of the factions is not a decision of SPLM,” Puok said in a statement.
“Therefore, the SPLM (IG) cannot dismiss Comrade Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon from membership of SPLM and cannot as well replace him, as he is an elected First Deputy Chairman and member of the Political Bureau of SPLM. Such a dismissal or replacement is only possible if there is a National Convention for the SPLM, not of a faction.”