The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM-IO) in the former state of Fashoda also known as the Agwelek forces last weekend rejected a move allegedly by the movement's leader Dr. Riek Machar to replace Gen. Johnson Olony as his candidate for the position of governor of Upper Nile State.
Last November, the SPLM-IO relaxed its stance against the formation of states' governments and the legislative assemblies without the appointment of Gen. Olony as the governor of Upper Nile State after President Salva Kiir refused to appoint Gen. Olony, referring to him as a warmonger.
The SPLM/A-IO leadership in the now-defunct Fashoda State, said in a press release signed by Gen. Olony, that they reject the request by the movement’s leader, Riek Machar, that Gen. Olony reports to Juba or be replaced for the gubernatorial position.
"After consulting with the political and military leadership, and on the background of your phone call regarding my going to Juba or changing me to another candidate, the political and military leadership refused to replace the candidate Johnson Olony with another candidate," the statement, seen by Radio Tamazuj, reads in part.
Maurice Orach, the former minister of information in the now-defunct Fashoda State told Radio Tamazuj on Sunday that Machar had called Gen. Olony on phone and asked him to go to Juba or be replaced.
"We want to set the facts straight for the people of South Sudan that on January 22nd January, Riek Machar called the governor candidate, Johnson Olony, and asked him to go to Juba because the situation in Juba has become difficult and it is necessary for him to go to Juba to be appointed governor, but we reject this idea as the political and military leadership,” Orach added.
Orach stressed that Gen. Olony will not go to Juba until he is appointed the governor of Upper Nile State, "There is no new option other than candidate Johnson Olony for the post of governor of Upper Nile State."
He declared that they stand behind the movement’s leader and support peace.
Nathaniel Oyet, the SPLM-IO representative to the National Constitution Amendment Committee (NCAC), rubbished talk of Gen. Olony being replaced and told Radio Tamazuj in an interview on Monday that the latter wrote a letter as a reaction to social media rumors.
“There is nothing like that. What I can recall is that there were deliberations in a meeting of the people (SPLM-IO members) about three days ago and during discussions, people were exploring options but there was nothing concrete agreed upon. People were exploring options of resolving the deadlock,” Oyet said.
Pressed that Gen. Olony wrote a letter rejecting being substituted and that he had a phone conversation with Dr. Machar, Oyet said “What I am telling you is that as the leadership (SPLM-IO) there is no resolution to replace Olony. And if there is anything like that it will come in a formal written form, not what you read on social media. This is the work of peace spoilers.”
He said, “It was responding to the social media rumors, there is no formal communication or decision to say he is being replaced. IO members from Upper Nile are consulting and deliberating on how to break that deadlock. But there is no decision to replace Olony."
Oyet confirmed that Gen. Olony and Dr. Machar were in contact, “Of course Machar is in communication with Olony but there is nothing to the effect that he is being replaced. They talk. He is Machar’s officer and if there is any decision like that, it will be with the participation of Gen. Johnson Olony.”
He stressed that there has not been any decision at the leadership level to suggest Gen. Olony's replacement.
Last November, President Kiir demanded Machar to write an undertaking to guarantee that there will be no violence in the event Gen. Olony is appointed governor.
On January 5th, the president issued a decision to establish the supervisory committee of the Upper Nile Conference headed by himself, with Machar as his deputy, and Martin Elia Lomuro as the rapporteur for the committee to discuss reconciliation issues and agree in the appointment of the governor of Upper Nile State.
The Shilluk Agwelek forces have fought both alongside the SPLA and the SPLA-IO. They were primarily focused on defending Shilluk land in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. The group is predominantly loyal to Gen. Johnson Olony, who is allied to SPLM-IO led by Riek Machar. Gen. Olony also doubles as the sector commander of the SPLA-IO in the restive area.
Source: Radio Tamazuj