Fierce Fighting Within South Sudan's SPLA
Deadly battles erupt between Sudan People's Liberation Movement's rival factions after a general declared that they had deposed him as head of the party.
Fierce battles erupted Saturday between rival factions within the VP Machar-led SPLA, his military spokesperson said in a statement.
The fighting took place after rivals declared that they disposed of Riek Machar as leader of the party and its military forces.
Armed forces led by General Simon Gatwech Dual, a rival general within the party, had launched an attack on Machar’s men, who "repulsed the aggressors," said Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel.
Machar's forces killed two prominent generals and more than 27 of their soldiers, losing three men, according to Gabriel.
The fighting was not independently confirmed, and there was no immediate response from Gatwech Dual.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army's military wing said Wednesday they had deposed the "rebel-turned-politician" for "failing to represent their interests."
These conflicts could put pressure on the fragile 2018 deal, which entailed power-sharing between Machar and his old opponent, President Salva Kiir.
On Friday, Machar's allies described the attempt to remove the VP as a "failed coup."
Additionally, earlier in the week, Machar accused "peace spoilers" of being behind the coup. He saw that the goal was to obstruct forming a unified command for the Armed Forces, a key element in the deal that put an end to a five-year-long civil war.
Machar is Vice President, while rival Salva Kiir is President. The two parties are currently running the country in a difficult phase of coexistence after facing off during the civil war, which erupted in 2013 and caused around 400,000 deaths.
As part of the 2018 peace agreement, Machar reconstituted a national unity government in February 2020, which was weakened in particular by the difficult implementation of many articles of this agreement.
The ongoing tension comes at a time when South Sudan is facing a difficult economic crisis and high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.