June 9, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– Responding to a controversial op-ed article that has backfired, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy has confirmed that her office published the controversial article, which bears Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kiir names, without verifying if the two leaders authored the article.
“We should have sought direct confirmation of the argument of the piece from both parties,” Murphy said.
Without revealing the identity of the people behind the article, Murphy confirmed to Foreign Policy that the article was submitted by “representative of the government of South Sudan”.
“This piece came to us through representatives of the government of South Sudan with assurances that they were working on behalf of both President Kiir and Vice President Machar. Today, we learned that Vice President Machar does not agree with the content of the op-ed.” Murphy.
In Juba, Ateny Wake Ateny, the Press Secretary of President Salva Kiir who fights to be recognized as the only spokesman of the presidency, has acknowledged the article but contradicted himself on who authored it.
Speaking to local media, Ateny told journalists that the article was written with his knowledge in his office but failed to mention the person who wrote it.
“The opinion article was from the president and the first vice president about the issue of transitional justice and truth and reconciliation, And it was written from my office.” Ateny said on Wednesday.
When contacted by journalist Jason Patinkin, according to FP, Ateny said the article was written in Washington and pointed his fingers to unidentified American consultancy firm that Salva Kiir government deployed to advocate on its behalf.
“It’s the right of anybody to employ [a] consultancy,” Ateny told Jason Patinkin.
In early 2014, Salva Kiir government invested more than $500 million USD in KRL International group, a Washington-based lobbying firm and Podesta Group to build its bilateral relations that were falling apart.
Ateny did not clarify which of the firms was responsible for the controversial op-ed article but push the readers to believe his statement more than anyone else.
“After the signing of the peace agreement and formation of the transitional government of national unity, the spokesperson for the whole presidency is me,” Ateny wake claims.
Through his Facebook page, James Gatdet Dak, the official spokesman of Dr. Riek Machar, denied any knowledge of such article and called it “irresponsible” for Times to publish false articles in the names of politicians.
The highly cited article has generated heated debates on social media and South Sudanese war victims are now calling on New York Times to publicly apologize for an article that is likely to fuel conflicts in the volatile state.
Others call on Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kiir to sue the New York Times for publishing a fraudulent and defamatory article.
“If this such op-ed is not fact checked with the sources before publishing, I see a lawsuit coming either from the victims as this would caused another instability if just to stir up a debate about accountability. I challenge the two principals to file a lawsuit in the U S district court in Manhataan, if they find the piece defaming or fabricated.” Said Galiyo Reang, a South Sudan America.
More than damaging Machar’s strong support for justice and accountability, the article has backfired on Salva Kiir’s circle who oppose justice and accountability, a consequent that was not directly intended.
Within the last two days, UK and US have re-committed to support Hybrid Court in South Sudan, and are well backed by Human Rights Watch and international partners.
Despite that Ateny Wek and Amb. Gordon Buay insist on the legitimacy of the article, the op-ed has initiated a heated debate that is strengthening the call for justice and accountability.
“Part of the challenge of rebuilding a nation lies with pursuing both justice and reconciliation, but not one at the expense of the other,” said Pressman. He added that Washington was surprised and disappointed by Kiir and Machar’s call to halt plans for the tribunal.
“Accountability and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. South Sudan needs both to promote long-term stability,” a spokesman for Britain’s U.N. mission seconded his US counterpart.