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SPLM-IO denies resolving the Angelina dispute as IGAD claims

SPLM-IO denies resolving the Angelina dispute as IGAD claims
Angelina Teny, former minister of Defense and Veterans' Affairs | Credit | Courtesy

The main opposition party, SPLM-IO, has denied resolving the deadlock over Angelina Teny’s removal from defense ministry as stated by IGAD during their recent summit in Djibouti.

A communiqué of the 14th Ordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government attended by President Salva Kiir praised the two principals for resolving the matter amicably.

“[IGAD] Lauded H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, for their statesmanship and wisdom in amicably resolving the dispute that arose over changes in the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and the Ministry of Interior,” the communiqué partly reads. 

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Nicholas Haysom, also cited the communique in the UN Security Council and asked the parties to acknowledge the step publicly and call off the unilateral decisions.

“We are informed by the recent IGAD communique that the political impasse over the removal of the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs has apparently been resolved, but not acknowledged as such. We urge the parties to avoid taking unilateral decisions,” Nicholas stated.

However, Puok Both Baluang, press secretary of First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar refuted this statement, terming it a false information from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“We don’t know where the IGAD got this false information. We would like to confirm that the deadlock is still and it has not been resolved as we speak. The deadlock remained as it is and our position of the SPLM-IO political bureau remains and we would like to reiterate that position,” Puok told TRC on Thursday.

In March 2023, Kiir relieved Angelina through a republican decree and swapped the ministries of defense and interior – a move the SPLM-IO said it was unilateral and a violation of the peace agreement.

Since then, the SPLM-IO political bureau has been calling on the president to revoke the decree and reinstate Angelina, who is also wife to Dr Machar.

All the calls went unattended to and the president appointed a new minister of defense.

“We still call upon the president to correct this unilateral decision and violation by reinstating Madam Angelina as the minister of defense and veteran affairs and also call off the decision for the swap,” Puok insisted.

According to the SPLM-IO official, it is okay with any ministry but it has to respect and protect the peace agreement by not accepting the unilateral decisions and violations.

“During the allocation of the ministries prior to the formation of the RTGoNU, the SPLM-IO was aiming at the ministry of Interior but the president was rejecting that and he insisted that we as SPLM-IO take the ministry of defense and for the sake of peace, we agreed to take the ministry of defense,” he continued.

“To us, the issue is not that there is a ministry better than the rest, the issue is that it’s a violation and we need to respect the agreement.”

TRC’s attempts to reach the office of the president were not immediately successful.