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JUBA - 2 Jul 2020

Kiir rejects Machar's nominee for Upper Nile governor

File photo: General Johnson Olony
File photo: General Johnson Olony

South Sudan’s peace agreement has suffered another setback after President Salva Kiir flatly rejected the nomination of SPLA-IO General Johnson Olony as governor of Upper Nile state.

 Kiir issued a decree Monday appointing governors for eight of the country’s 10 states under the state power-sharing arrangement. He, however, did not name governors for two states – Jonglei and Upper Nile – and did not give reasons.

Riek Machar’s party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), was given three states, including Upper Nile state, where the appointment of a governor is still pending.

South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) – a third party to the September 2018 peace agreement – has been given Jonglei state, where a governor has also yet to be announced.

The president’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday President Kiir declined to appoint SPLA-IO General Johnson Olony who leads the Agwelek division as governor of Upper Nile state. Ateny says General Olony has violated provisions of the peace agreement which provide that all forces are to be cantoned and trained in order to create a unified army.

 “We want peace to prevail in the country, so we cannot appoint someone who wants to spoil the peace. Olony is still in the bush and his forces have not yet gone to the cantonment sites,” said Ateny Wek. “Johnson Olony has set some conditions. He wants to come back to Juba with 2,000 forces, which is a violation of the peace agreement.”

Ateny says the president’s side has requested the SPLM-IO to select a different candidate to fill the position of Upper Nile state governor. “General Olony will not be appointed as governor because he is a warmonger,” said Ateny.

Mabior Garang de Mabior, a spokesperson of Machar’s SPLM-IO, confirmed they had nominated General Johnson to be appointed as governor of Upper Nile state but President Kiir declined to appoint him.

“We don’t know why the president did not appoint Olony. What is happening now is contrary to the peace agreement,” said Mabior. “We accepted to return to Juba for the sake of peace in our country but the president’s side is working without considering the other parties.”

Mabior said first vice president Riek Machar will hold a meeting with President Kiir to discuss the nomination of General Johnson Olony.