South Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar has been ousted as head of his party and its armed forces by rival leaders who accused the rebel-turned-politician of no longer representing their interests.
Machar was deposed following a three-day gathering of senior SPLM/A-IO leaders in the country’s far north.
Chief of staff, First Lieutenant General Simon Gatwech Dual has been declared interim leader of the opposition movement
Military sources said he failed to show leadership and seriously weakened the party’s position in the post-war coalition government formed between the warring sides in early 2020.
Riek Machar served as vice president in South Sudan’s first post-independence government alongside his old rival, President Salva Kiir but the pair fell out and Machar was sacked two years later.
This led to troops loyal to each man turning their guns on each other making the youngest African country descend into five years of horrific bloodshed.
A fresh truce in 2018 halted the fighting that left nearly 400,000 citizens dead -this after series of failed peace accords and violated ceasefires.
Under that arrangement, they both agreed on another unity government with Machar as deputy to Kiir in February 2020 but distrust lingered and cracks soon appeared as key provisions of the peace accords went unfulfilled.
Machar faced growing opposition within his own ranks as time went on, with top cadres complaining they had lost out under the power-sharing arrangement struck with the ruling party.
Oil-rich South Sudan faces dire economic straits and its worst hunger crisis since independence, with thousands of people smattering through starvation in the world’s youngest nation.