By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
August 26, 2013 (BENTIU) -Residents in South Sudan’s Unity state told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the appointment of the country’s new vice-president, James Wani Igga, was a deliberate ploy by president Salva Kiir to protect his own political interests at the upcoming 2015 elections.
Former long-time deputy Riek Machar, who was removed last month by Kiir ikn a major cabinet reshuffle, had been a vocal critic of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), citing a lack of vision, rampart tribalism, poor international relations and systemic corruption in the new nation.
Machar’s removal came after he declared his intention to challenge Kiir for the SPLM leadership at the 2015 election.
The parliament on Saturday unanimously endorsed the former speaker’s appointment, but have yet to agree on who will be Igga’s successor.
In Unity state, homeland of the former vice-president, Igga’s appointment as Kiir’s new deputy has drawn mixed reactions.
Leek community resident Martha Nyalam Banak said she is unhappy by the decision.
"The former vice-president Riek has good relationship with civilians [and] he is the only one responsible about our concerns … Most of us do not agree about his firing. But we demand for his reimbursement when he was relieved from office, but if that fails, we are ready to bring him back in the next election”, she said.
A pastor from the Episcopal church of South Sudan who lives in Daresalam in Bentiu town said Igga’s nomination would do nothing to strengthen the SPLM’s political standing.
"I have seen and studied the situation in South Sudan was due to [the] weak parliament from [the] South Sudan national assembly. All our problems that hindered this country are the weakness our parliamentarians”, said the pastor, who preferred to remain anonymous.
"Wani Igga was [a] former national speaker of [the] Republic of South Sudan [the] since 2005 after peace deal with Sudan, but what mired us in South Sudan was our parliament. All corruptions case would have improved, killing between each tribes would have stopped and continued cattle raiding could have end[ed] if strong laws [were] passed by lawmakers”, he added.
Thirty-year-old Nyanieme Bawar Meat from Dol, 25 kilometres outside Bentiu said his community was largely supportive of the president’s choice.
"If a new vice president was chosen by [the] president to replace former vice-president Riek, it is good to hear that. Although we have not heard his promises, we have no objection about him”, he said.
Meat called on the new vice-president to focus on improving public health services, which he says would have a significant impact on people’s quality of life.
Bentiu resident Peter Duot Mayieth said he is also supportive of the new vice-president.
"We are waiting for him to witness what he will do in this nation. The former vice-president says the work of the government has failed to address the needs of the people, and we are very happy to see a new leader. We want to see from the new appointed [deputy] leader for the republic what he is going to do for us”, said Mayieth.