June 28, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s former vice-president and leader of the rebel SPLM/A in Opposition, Riek Machar, has appointed the heads of various national committees to fill the structures of the armed opposition movement.
- South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar gives a press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 12 May 2014 (Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)
Machar said the appointments, a list of which he provided to Sudan Tribune, were made accordance with a consultative conference held by his faction in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Saturday.
The appointments are expected to be made official after the former vice-president turned rebel leader selects his appointees for the remaining positions.
Former Unity state governor and chief rebel negotiator General Taban Deng Gai has been appointed as chairman of the national committee for peace and reconciliation.
Dhieu Mathok Diing was named chairman of the national committee for external relations, while the former head of political science at the University of Juba, Oyet Nathniel Pierino, was appointed to lead the national committee for political mobilisation.
Renowned lawyer and former national MP Richard K Mulla takes up the responsibility for justice and human rights, with Mabior Garang de Mabior, the son of late founding SPLM leader John Garang, appointed the chairman of the national committee for information and public relations and former deputy governor of Jonglei Hussein Mar Nyuot heading the committee for humanitarian affairs.
Other appointments included Gabriel Changson Chang for finance and resource mobilisation, Tijwok Hadhir Aguet for agriculture, Elizabeth Acuei Yol for health, Stephen Par Kuol for education and Banguot Amum Okiech, the sister of former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum, who will lead the committee for women and youth empowerment.
Ramadan Hassan Laku was assigned the role as chief coordinator in the office of the chairman
The office of the chairman is comprised of five strategic planning committees: the federal governance development unit, physical infrastructure development unit, public cooperation enterprise development unit, anti-corruption measures development unit and the SPLM basic documents development unit.
Former lawmaker Timothy Tot Chol will head up the federal governance development unit, with Machar yet to appoint heads for the remaining four units or positions in the military committee.
Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the deputies and secretaries to the respective national committees, representatives of the movement in various countries and officials in the headquarters in the office of the chairman are also due to be appointed soon.
Dak said the appointment of the respective heads of the national committees was an important phase of the struggle.
“It is important for collective decision-making processes by the leadership in formulating draft policies for the resistance movement, as well as [the] future governance system in the country,” he said.
Dak said the committees would serve as the executive organ of the movement.
A rebel official in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune the committees were formed to meet the group’s obligations to civil populations in areas under its control with regard to social, political and administrative matters.
“We have to deliver services to our people who are in dire need of these services,” the official said.
“We want to put into use our ideas for change so that people of South Sudan can see us doing these things practically and not just theories,” he added.
Rebels have been engaged in a more than six-month-long struggle with the South Sudanese government since a split emerged in the ruling SPLM, led by president Salva Kiir, in mid-December last year.
The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to Kiir against rebel forces aligned with the former vice-president, largely comprising of dissident soldiers and ethnic militia from Machar’s Nuer tribe.
Peace talks between the rival factions were recently adjourned indefinitely and a tenuous ceasefire deal signed in January has failed to halt the violence.