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South Sudan Official Accuses West of Plotting Regime Change


FILE - South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar speaks in an interview with The Associated Press in Johannesburg, South Africa, Oct. 20, 2016.

A South Sudan Army (SPLA) spokesman alleged that American, British and Norwegian government officials held a secret meeting with South Sudanese armed opposition officials loyal to former first vice president Riek Machar in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this month to plot a regime change in Juba.

South Sudan's Deputy Military spokesman Colonel Santo Dominic Chol made the accusation at a news conference Thursday in Juba.

The United States says it “categorically denies” the allegation, insisting it supports an end to fighting and a return to development in South Sudan.

A State Department official told VOA on Thursday that the statements are an irresponsible misrepresentation of U.S. policy.

Britain has also flatly denied the allegation. In a statement released Thursday, the British embassy in Juba said that similar allegations expressed in an article in an East African newspaper are "a fabrication that does not reflect the policy of the British government."

Chol alleged that participants at the Nairobi meeting decided to use the ongoing economic crisis to affect regime change, adding they agreed to inject huge amounts of money to the armed opposition to bribe SPLA junior officers so that they would distance themselves from Chief of Staff General Paul Malong and President Salva Kiir's administration.

At the alleged meeting, according to Chol, participants identified ways to sabotage South Sudan's army leadership that would create mistrust between President Kiir and Malong, and possibly lead to Malong's replacement.

Chol asserted that no one will change the Kiir administration except the people.

"How does the SPLA look or describe this team which is calling itself a team for regime change in South Sudan?" Chol asked.

He went on to say, "the only authorized people that can change the regime in South Sudan in the upcoming election are the people of South Sudan. It's not anybody beyond the borders of this country."

Chol also claimed that participants at the alleged meeting also recommended the assassination of Malong either by poisoning, a stage-managed traffic accident, or a plane crash.

"They concluded that regime change in South Sudan would not be possible in the presence of Malong because Malong is known for support for the people of South Sudan and to the democratically elected leadership of this country. Therefore, it's very difficult to talk about regime change in this country unless the first strategy is to eliminate Malong physically," Chol added.

Chol charged that participants decided if all else fails, officials would mobilize the support of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to approve a secret indictment against Malong, General Gabriel Jok Riak, and Information Minister Michael Makuei.

"To me it looks like the so-called international experts on South Sudan and this present team for regime change in South Sudan, of course, they will still fail because they haven't gotten the right person," Chol said.

Chol also asserted that the next meeting between American, British and Norwegian officials and rebel representatives led by South Sudanese Lieutenant General Bapiny Monytual Wejang would be held on January 23 in New York.

Chol did not reveal to reporters the source of his information.

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