Two senior South Sudan armed opposition (SPLM-IO) generals Lt. Gen Dor Manjuor and Maj. Gen. Liah Diu say they are in contact and support Riek Machar, who was recently dropped from government.
Last week, President Salva Kiir replaced nemesis Machar with the SPLM-IO’s former chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, a move the armed opposition leader described as ‘illegal’.
But Maj. Gen Diu, a senior military officer with the armed opposition, said he and Lt. Gen Manjuor still remain loyal to Machar.
“I have never gone anywhere. I’m still in contact with my commander in chief Dr. Riek Machar. Those who wish me to defect to Taban Deng are great enemies of the movement,” he said.
Forces allied to two senior opposition generals reportedly clashed after one side declared allegiance to Gai at Neemni village and, Diu, said he and Lt. Gen Manjuor conducted a meeting with local chiefs in the area on the replacement of Machar.
Diu claimed most people in the area disagreed with the appointment of Gai, which they alleged was a tactical move by President Kiir to divide the armed opposition faction.
Gai, South Sudan’s newly-appointed vice-president reportedly dispatched Maj. Gen Carlo Kuol from Juba to the area to discuss and mobilize the community to support his new position.
But Diu insists some people were simply misled into backing Gai, stressing that Machar was still the legitimate leader of the armed opposition movement.
“It is not true the statement you received from commissioner and press secretary of Unity State governor. We were in the meeting yesterday as Guit county community on ground, but our position has been misunderstood by members of our comrades,” he explained.
Diu said they communicated to the SPLM-IO leader on Monday and that the latter assured them of his support to the movement and the struggle to fight for a better South Sudan.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country descended into an orgy of violence after troops loyal to President Salva Kiir fought with those of his rival, former Vice President Riek Machar, leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of displaced people.