As local and international criticism mounted, the question of who authorized the op-ed came to the fore. Through a spokesman, Machar denied writing the piece. But an official at the South Sudan embassy in Washington, D.C said both leaders consented to writing the op-ed, although BBC Africa correspondent Emmanuel Igunza tweeted that he fielded calls from Kiir and Machar’s people “disowning” the op-ed.
The controversy over the authorship of the op-ed highlights the unpopularity of the concept of skirting justice for mass atrocities in South Sudan. However, it offers an opportunity for both Kiir and Machar to disavow the op-ed in the strongest terms possible and reaffirm their commitment to the peace agreement they signed in August 2015.