February 10, 2015 (JUBA) – Factional fighting in South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) branch office in Northern Bahr el Ghazal has intensified, sparking serious security concerns.
The tensions erupted following division within the local leadership structure, predominantly supporters of the caretaker governor Kuel Aguer Kuel, and former governor Paul Malong Awan, who remains the party chairperson after becoming the army’s chief of general staff.
Gabriel Bol Dut, head of the youth wing of the SPLM in Aweil town, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that he had been removed from office after several officials stormed his office and declared a successor had been appointed.
Dut said the group, including acting state speaker Andrew Lual Buola, assistant secretary for popular and syndicated organisations Santino Mayuat Ngong, Ken Akoon, William Wel and others, had no authority to remove him from office, describing the move as “unconstitutional and unacceptable”.
He accused the group, headed by former Aweil South county commissioner Jel Mangok, who in controversial party changes in January was named as deputy head of the ruling party in the state, of earlier threatening to remove him from his position if he refused to withdraw his political support for Kuel.
He claims Mangok made the threats in a meeting on 5 February also attended by advisor for local government Deng Dhieu and Kerubino Unguec Angui.
“They started with threats and then told me in that meeting to stop supporting governor Kuel and they will remove three members in parliament and I will be one of those to replace them. I said no, so they said they are doing to deal with me if I refuse the offer,” Dut explained.
The party official accused the rival group of being a breakaway faction, saying they identify themselves as “SPLM Concern” and should therefore be treated as a different entity.
“In South Sudan we have only one SPLM without other letters under the leadership of president Salva Kiir and if there is addition of some letters, then it is a different entity like that of [rebel leader] Riek Machar and the former detainees,” Dut told Sudan Tribune in an interview on Monday.
“This group should therefore be considered a new breakaway [faction]; otherwise they would not be opposing supporting the caretaker governor appointed by the president who is the chairman of the SPLM. If I cannot support governor Kuel, who was appointed by the president, who should I support?” he added.