South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has warned of further inevitable split of his faction of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), saying there are those “behaving like dogs” who want to take over leadership from him in Juba.
President Kiir made the remarks while planning for the upcoming extraordinary convention of the SPLM scheduled for Saturday, 12 December, even after accepting to reconcile and reunite the party in compliance with the Arusha intra-party peace deal. The deal, which is yet to be implemented, involved the three rival factions of the SPLM, namely SPLM-in-government, SPLM-in-opposition and SPLM of former detainees.
The president who has armed himself with sweeping powers, both at the party level and in the government to appoint and dismiss officials at will, accused unnamed officials in his party and government of causing further divisions and creating factions using “dirty tactics” to cause havoc and to tarnish the image of others.
“There are people who have refused to learn, they don’t listen and they have also refused to leave the SPLM. They behave like dogs that even if you beat them, they go and come back and look at you with the same eyes and attitudes. This is the problem we have been facing in SPLM [since] inception,” president Kiir reportedly told a group of party officials seeking his permission to approve a list of invited participants at the extraordinary convention scheduled to be held over the weekend at Nyakuron Culture Center in Juba.
“And so, we have a problem at the moment that threatens the survival of the SPLM itself,” he said.
He accused some officials of stoking division while at the same time positioning themselves to eventually succeed him.
The former rebel commander, turned politician and became president, claimed there were groups in the party which were openly and secretly manoeuvring to secure influential positions in the SPLM.
It was not clear which group he was particularly accusing of allegedly wanting to succeed him since there have been speculations that there are groups comprising members of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) and military officers as well as junior party officials rallying and pushing Paul Malong Awan, army’s chief of general staff, to enter the race and succeed president Kiir.
Officials close to the ongoing politics in the party said the plan by JCE and army chief Malong to succeed president Kiir was in a bid to thwart ambition of the incumbent vice-president, James Wani Igga, or defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, foreign affairs minister, Nhial Deng Nhial, and several other prominent figures who are said to be eyeing the possibility of succeeding the president.
It is speculated that there are currently three different factions, competing and strategizing on how to insert their influence in the party.