July 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, has dismissed Taban Deng Gai from the party of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), accusing him of having defected to President Salva Kiir’s faction.
- SPLM-IO Chief Negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, speaking to journalists at Juba airport upon his return from Pagak with his team, 22 January 2016 (ST Photo)
Machar also asked President Kiir to relieve Gai from his position as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), to which he nominated him.
“In exercise of my powers, as First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, as per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Article 6, I hereby withdraw and recall Gen. Taban Deng Gai as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity as from today, 22nd of July, 2016,” partly reads the letter addressed to President Salva Kiir and copied to JMEC and IGAD.
“I am asking Your Excellency to relieve him with immediate effect,” Machar said in the letter extended to the media.
He told the President that he will nominate Gai’s replacement as soon as he returns to Juba once the security arrangement is put in place by a third party force as per the Communique of the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi, on 11 July 2016.
Machar, who is also the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA-IO), also relieved Gai from his party positions and dismissed him from the membership of the SPLM-IO.
“This is to declare to all members of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that Taban Deng Gai has defected to the SPLM-IG under President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” he further explained.
He said he had “therefore relieved him from his positions as member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) Political Bureau and as Chairman of the National Committee for Reconciliation and Healing.”
“By this, Taban Deng Gai is hereby declared dismissed and no more a member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO),” he added.
Gai, who was chief negotiator for the opposition faction until April this year, has been going publicly against the position of the SPLM-IO’s leadership, including the deployment of a third party force, despite his boss’ declaration that the leadership welcomed the regional troops’ deployment.
The minister who belonged to the SPLM-IO has instead been supporting President Kiir’s arguments against his leader.
He has been also reportedly campaigning to replace his chairman in his position as First Vice President in the Republic of South Sudan, accusing him of staying away from Juba.
Machar who fled the capital and relocated his base outside Juba due to recent clashes between his forces and the forces loyal to President Kiir, said he is willing to return to the capital as soon as a third party force is deployed to separate their rival forces.