January 11, 2018 (JUBA) – A former presidential adviser, who was initially a member of the South Sudan’s armed opposition movement led by the country’s former first vice-president, Riek Machar has announced the formation of a breakaway faction from the latter.
Albert Abdullah, in a statement issued Thursday, said the Eastern Front Army, which he leads, was formed with objectives to fight against the current system of governance so as to create federalism.
The group, the statement added, did not start with military operation because its members decided to give peaceful efforts opportunity to explore ways to achieve peaceful settlement of the ongoing war.
The former presidential aide confirmed, in a phone interview with Sudan Tribune, the authenticity of the statement issued to the public.
“Yes, yes, you are speaking to Hon. Abdallah Albert, chairman and commander in chief of Eastern Front. The release you saw is our statement. It is an announcement of formation of the new movement. Our objectives are very clear. One, we are fighting for establishment of federalism,” said Abdullah.
He claimed the current system of governance is causing a lot of problems and was what caused the civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions since December 2013.
“Everything is done in Juba on behalf of the local people because it is central system as you know,” said the former presidential advisor.
He further explained, “Their claims that it is decentralized are untrue. Everything is done in Juba and [President] Salva Kiir is everything. That is the cause of the current war. To correct that, we decided to form a movement that will fight for the establishment of federalism”.
The ex-aide claimed he defected from Machar because the latter had failed to look for arms and provide them to his people for war.
“I noticed neither Riek Machar nor other groups have interest in Eastern Equatoria. Riek Machar from example does not have any agenda for the people of Eastern Equatoria. Since I joined the movement, there has never been a single day he called me to ask about the challenges we are facing in Eastern Equatoria and how these challenges could be resolved,” Abdullah told Sudan Tribune.
He added, “We therefore realized he [Machar] has no any agenda and so we, the leaders from Eastern Equatoria state, decided to form our own movement to fight and protect the interest, lives and properties of the people of Eastern Equatoria”.
A former member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Abdullah joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party, but defected to the armed opposition under the Machar when political debates within the SPLM escalated into war in 2013.
However, before the signing of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, Abdullah served a presidential adviser on development affairs. He later served as education minister in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state and Imatong county’s commissioner.