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South Sudan’s rebel leader appointed vice president

Juba/Addis Ababa, February 11, 2016 (SSNA) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday issued a republican decree, appointing rebel chief Dr. Riek Machar as first Vice President of the Republican of South Sudan.

The move came nearly three weeks after Kiir and Machar failed to form an interim-government.

The appointment of the Former Vice President turned rebel leader was announced today evening on the state-run South Sudan Television (SSTV).

Kiir also appointed James Wani Igga as second Vice president.

Rebels have received the news of the appointment of their leader with mixed feelings, with some people expressing dissatisfactions, citing incompletion of amendments of the constitution.

Some provisions in the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) stipulate that the young nation's constitution must be amended and that the rebel leader must also be installed as the Vice president, a job he previously hold before fighting broke out on December 15, 2013.

Machar, who recently returned to Ethiopia after visiting a number of countries, has in the past said he will only go back to Juba if the constituion is fully amended.

The leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that it will soon issue a prepared statement in regard to the appointment of Machar.

It is not clear what the armed opposition will say.

The IGAD-Plus gave South Sudan’s warring factions a January 22nd dateline to form a transitional government. However, the two rival groups failed to meet the dateline, raising fear that the two sides could resume fighting.

South Sudanese rebel leader visits Uganda amid security fears

Kampala/Addis Ababa, January 24, 2016 (SSNA) -- South Sudan’s rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurghon, left Ethiopia for Uganda on Sunday evening to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni over lack of the implementation of the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement.

Machar, who briefed the public on peace deal on Sunday evening before his departure said he will meet Museveni after he received an invitation letter through Uganda's External Security Organization (ESO).

In his reply letter, a copy of which was obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA), the rebel leader said he accepted the invitation and that he has “no objection of the ESO to be in charge” of his visit, despite the fact that Museveni is the main backer of South Sudan’s Kiir.

“I am writing to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 22 January 2016, which you have written on behalf og H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, inviting me to Kampala, Uganda.” Machar said in the letter.

“I am happy to inform you that I have no objection for ESO to be in charge of organizing my visit to the Republic of Uganda on behalf of H.E. President Museveni,” he added.

In July 2014, Ugandan government refused to receive rebel delegation at the Entebbe International Airport, claiming that there was a "misunderstanding" in communication between the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO and Kampala. Rebels called the snub "humdrum," and they had to return to Ethiopia.

Museveni and Machar are expected to discuss Kiir’s 28 states decree and other peace-related issues.

However, it is not the first time the two leaders meet face-to-face after civil war erupted in South Sudan. Machar and Museveni met in September of 2015 in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

The leader of the armed opposition also said he accepts the invitation and that he will discuss the future of his country with Museveni whom he also described as a “brother.”

“I am hereby confirming my acceptance to visit Kampala, Uganda to meet my brother President Museveni to discuss the future of my beloved country South Sudan and bilateral relations with sisterly country Ugandan,” Machar wrote.

The news of Machar’s visit sent shock-waves of mixed reactions from rebel supporters, with some people protesting on social media, calling Museveni “a killer who cannot be trusted at all.”

“This man called M7 is a killer who can’t be trusted at all. He kills by poisoning many African political, military, and civil leaders,” one supporter of the SPLM/A-IO wrote.

“What is wrong with Riek Machar?” another supporter asked.

In December of 2011, George Athor, who waged a rebellion against government after he lost elections in Jonglei State was killed in Equaoria region. South Sudanese believe that Athor’s killing was in fact carried out by Uganda in a suburb of Kampala and then Ugandan government turned his dead body over to South Sudan’s security agents who were in Kampala before Athor was lured into a meeting place in pretext of Museveni being a mediator between South Sudan’s government and Athor’s armed faction. It has been alleged that South Sudan’s soldiers staged Athor’s killing in Morobo of Central Equatoria State. Most South Sudanese also believe that Museveni may have a hand in the death of their leader, late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, who was killed in July of 2005 in a mysterious helicopter crash.

The list of Machar’s delegation to Kampala includes Angelina Teny-Chairperson of the SPLM-IO National Committee for Security and Defense, Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diinh-Secretary General of the SPLM-IO, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth-Chairman of the SPLM-IO National Committee for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba-Chairperson of the SPLM-IO National Committee for Training and Research, Ramadan Hassan Laku-Chairman of the SPLM-IO National Committee for Federal Affairs, Major General Thoi Chany-Director General of National Security and General Intelligence Service (NSGIS), Hatim Cuei Deng-Chief of protocol, Brig. General Wany Juetjok Kuenywar-Director of External Security, Paul Opio Both Wityian-SPLM/A-IO Deputy Representative to Uganda, Gatkuoth Tap Jany, Gabriel Kuok Dang, Lam Dak Chuol, Chuol Koak Thiep, Gach Nguot Tang, Khan Thomas Kume, Kai Lieth Diyiam, Steven Goi Gatluak, John Gatluak Thian, Kuem Gatluok Machar, and Ruach Gatluak Put.

The invitation letter which was sent to Machar bears the signature of Joseph Ocwet, the Director General of External Security Organization (Uganda).

The SSNA has learned that Ocwet, who is also a former ambassador, was appointed by Yoweri Museveni as head of the ESO in June of 2015.

A few days after fighting broke out in Juba, Museven a staunch supporter of Kiir, gave Machar 3-4 days to surrender or face defeat.

Most South Sudanese believe that Presidents Museveni and Kiir planned the December 2015 coup attempt in a bid to get rid of Kiir’s political rivals.

Government’s troops launched fresh attacks against rebels in Central and Western Equatoria States

Pagak/Juba, January 22, 2016 (SSNA) -- South Sudanese rebel military command has accused Juba of launching new military assaults on its positions located in and around Western and Central Equatoria States.

The armed opposition says at least 7 heavily equipped Toyota land cruisers of the government attacked its outpost in Wundurba payam of the Central Equatoria State, adding that the assault happened on Friday morning at about 11:00am, South Sudan local time.

Rebels say the attack is unacceptable and that it violates the peace agreement.

“Around 11:00 AM this morning, 7 Toyota land cruisers heavily armed from South Sudan capital Juba attacked our assembly site in Wundurba area. This is unacceptable for SPLA-Juba faction to continue violating the signed peace accord between the two parties in August 2015,” SPLA-IO’s military command says in a statement obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

The SPLA-IO added that its soldiers were forced to engage government’s troops to stop what it described as “intolerable advancement” toward rebel-held areas.

The SSNA understands that heavy fighting between the rival forces occurred in Katigiri Payam of Central Equatoria state and is ongoing.

Rebel stated that one of its sites in Mundiri of Western Equatoria State occupied by the SPLA-IO was also attacked by government forces on Thursday.

According to the armed opposition, Major General John Kenyi, the SPLA-IO field commander in the area says number of those killed in the fighting could not be released at the moment because the fight is continuing.

The armed opposition says it condemns government assaults on its positions and Juba’s deliberate displacement of civilians in Western Equatoria State.

The rebel military command calls on JMEC, IGAD-Plus, and the international community to put pressure on South Sudan’s government to stop the war and work towards the implementation of the power-sharing deal.

An attempt by the South Sudan News Agency to get government’s reaction on the situation went unanswered.

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