Budhok Ayang Kur appointed Governor of Upper Nile state
In a statement read on SSBC-TV earlier this evening, President Kiir has appointed Budhok Ayang Kur as Governor of Upper Nile state, ending six months of stalemate between Kiir's government and the SPLM-IO over the gubernatorial nominee.
Upper Nile state had been lacking a Governor since mid-last year, when the SPLM-IO put forward Gen. James Olony as their candidate for the position. Olony's nomination was controversial, with SPLM figures alleging he neither lived in South Sudan nor had spent time in the country that year.
The dispute over Olony's appointment led to a delay in the state's gubernatorial appointment, forcing President Kiir to postpone any announcement until after a peace and reconciliation conference had been held addressing the Upper Nile question. However, the conference was never held after a number of criticisms from opposition figures.
Since the appointment of Ayang Kur earlier this afternoon, a number of objections have been raised by SPLM-IO forces loyal to Gen. Olony, and Olony himself.
'A few days ago, we wrote to the Chairman Dr. Riek Machar Teny and we made it very clear to him that the leadership of the former Fashoda federal state is not for what he asked for. We haven’t changed that position yet and any change to the initial SPLM-IO nomination is not acceptable to us', Gen. Olony reported in a media statement today.
When asked about his plan in coming days, Olony asserted that he would seek guidance before acting.
'Of course this will not be my decision alone. There will be a wider decision and we will bring all the military leadership of the SPLM/SPLA-IO because if this is a violation, it will not be me alone who will work to say it because it is a collective job and then we will decide the way forward', he added.
It is widely believed that First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar had consented to Olony's replacement some weeks prior, making by forces loyal to the former candidate evoke wider questions of fragmentation within the SPLM-IO.
Such questions are compounded by the fact that only last week the SPLM-IO representative to the National Constitution Amendment Committee (NCAC), Nathaniel Oyet, denied claims that Machar had consented to replacing Olony.
Many commentators expect movements in coming days to be careful and calculated, particularly following President Kiir's announcement last November that Machar would be held personally responsible if Olony caused conflict.