July 1, 2021 — While responding to speculations that he has been sidelined amid recent controversies, Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak, has tried to clear the air but also spilled the beans.
Gatdet’s absence from office for more than seven months has sparked sharp criticisms from members of the SPLM/A-IO; however, Gatdet downplays critics who finger-point on the appointment of Puok Both Baluang on the basis of nepotism.
Machar has been on spotlight for nepotism as his clansmen scramble over lucrative positions in his office and elsewhere in SPLM/A-IO, and Puok’s appointment shades the same light; however, Gatdet tries to explain it but his efforts seem to be making hardly any difference.
“But why would you, during these hard times, delegate and assign Puok Both Baluang to act on your behalf when you never did that when stability was available in SPLA-IO? The delegation and assignment of Puok Both Baluang, according to me, is a clever way of: 1. Pushing him into trouble with his comrades and military leaders in a thing he didn’t take part in it’s genesis, and 2. Making the office look of being controlled by Dok” Said Weirial Puok Baluang.
Although Gatdet may not have legitimacy to appoint a person of his wish to act as the Press Secretary to the First Vice President, he has accepted responsibilities and tried to defend it.
“Cde Puok is also an experienced cadre in the media work or public outreach. He is also being assisted by an able team of volunteers (pending official appointments) in the persons of Cde Gordon Yien Gordon, Cde Hassan Elisa Jamba, among others in the media department.” Gatdet said.
Gatdet insists that he needs to spend more times with his family; however, he claims to be in touch with “them almost on daily basis” while he takes on assignments from the office of President Kiir.
“I am also in touch with them almost on daily basis.” Gatdet said.
“However, since I am currently on leave from office, and also assigned to other occasional peace-making duties that require travelling at times—-as directed by the Presidency from the Office of H E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit—- I again want to remind media outlets to be directing their inquiries to Cde Puok Both Baluang as the Acting Press Secretary in the Office.” He continued.
In his absence Gatdet delegated Puok Both Balaung and some volunteers to run the Press Unit of the First Vice President, adding that he will continue to serve until the day he will officially return to office.
“Previously I had informed media outlets and the general public that I had officially delegated the Director of Communications and Public Relations in the SPLM/SPLA (IO) office, Cde Puok Both Baluang, to be acting on my behalf while on leave until the time I return to the Office.” Gatdet said.
According to insiders, Gatdet initially travelled to Sweden to see his family but he returned and opted to reside somewhere in East Africa which led some supporters to conclude that he has been sidelined.
While responding to his critics, Mr. Dak claims that the speculations are false but he couldn’t specify how long his vacation may last.
“Kindly disregard the fake news trending on social media that I have resigned from my public duty as the Press Secretary in the Office of the First Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar.” Gatdet said.