Kiir-Machar press units parallel over ‘deadlock’ remarks

By William Madouk  

Tension engulfed presidency press units, as the press secretary in the Office of President, Lily Adhieu and her counterpart in the office of First Vice President, Puok Both Baluang publicly differed over the usage of word ‘deadlock’ to describe results of their bosses’ meeting.

Last Friday, President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar held a close door meeting over dismissal of Angelina Teny and swapping of the Ministry of Defense and that of Interior.

Yet an attempt to resolve the dispute ended in a ‘stalemate’ according Machar’s media aide, but Barnaba Marial remained optimistic that principals’ ‘frank’ talk which was pushed to later date for further debates for amicable solution.

However, in a press statement seen by No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper on Saturday, President Kiir’s mouthpiece, Adhieu protested that the meeting between Kiir and Machar did not end in deadlock as reported.

“While the two leaders did not come to an agreement in the meeting yesterday (Friday), the consensus among the parties to meet at a later date was a positive commitment to resolve the issues at hand in the spirit of cooperation,” Adhieu said.

“Therefore, any attempt to portray this as an impasse threaten to jeopardize the spirit of the meeting,” she added.

Kiir’s press security further rebuked media staff in the office of Machar not to ‘sensationalize’ national issues and be mindful of their responsibility toward peace and stability in the country.

“Furthermore, given the keen public interest in the outcome of yesterday’s meeting, it is important that our duty to inform should not be overtaken by the urge to sensationalize issues of national importance,” Adhieu stressed.

In rebuttal, Mr. Baluang clarified that the usage of the word ‘deadlock’ is not and never meant to ‘sensationalize’ issues of national importance as incorrectly perceived but to show that no deal was reached.

“It is rather a correct description of a situation in which an agreement has not been reached on the substantive issues under discussion, thereby “no agreement reached,” said Baluang the acting press secretary in the office of FVP Dr. Machar.  

He explained that deadlock means no agreement reached yet on the removal of Ms. Teny and swapping of ministries and it doesn’t stop two leaders to discuss same matter in future.

“Since no agreement was reached on the two issues, it became a deadlock as both sides held to their respective views. An agreement to meet on another day only signifies a good spirit and willingness to discuss the issues again, which is applauded, but has not yet resolved the disagreement or deadlock,” Baluang clarified.

Machar mouthpiece, said as media team they are aware of the importance of peace and that is why they issued statement decrying violation of the peace deal.

While assuring to continue working together with office of Adhieu, Mr. Baluang said that free and fair media work is free from unnecessary urge to silence others in their roles to correctly inform public on issues of national importance.

For instance, Minister of information and government spokesman, Michael Makuei on Friday, said Kiir is the sole entity that appoints all including Riek Machar and thus remains with power to hire and fire anyone.

Mr. Makuei defended the president saying there’s no violation “Up to now, have you confirmed that it was a violation of the agreement – to me it’s not a violation as long as they are talking.”

Santo Malek, Deputy Secretary for Political Affairs and Mobilization, and the Acting Information Secretary for the SPLM party told local media earlier, that the constitution prevails as it allows President Kiir to relieve and appoint any minister in cases of security threat.

But Puok Both Baluang, Press Secretary in the Office of the First Vice President, said the R-ARCSS supersedes the constitution because the country is in the term of the implementation of the peace deal.

The country’s amended 2011 constitution talks about the powers of the president to relieve and appoint ministers. Meanwhile, the R-ARCSS says the president can only take such a decision through mutual decisions, between parties that are involved in the peace agreement.

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