July 24, 2015 (NAIROBI) – A South Sudanese armed opposition (SPLM-IO) official has accused the Jieng Council of Elders in the capital, Juba of championing processes that elevated Taban Deng Gai as First Vice-President in the absence of Riek Machar.
- Machar speaks on a mobile phone after an interview with Reuters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi July 8, 2015
Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, the SPLM-IO’s deputy chairman of national committee for information and public relations, said Machar was still the legitimate leader of the armed opposition faction.
“The action of the group is tantamount to an internal coup within the SPLM/A (IO). This is because the SPLM/A-IO, like all other political parties, has a constitution and internal regulations which provide for the conduct of party affairs in the temporary absence of the leader. It is apparent that the deputy chairman, Gen. Alfred Lado Gore and Secretary General Dr. Dhieu Mathok Wol were coerced into accepting Gen. Taban Deng Gai as the leader against the party norms,” he said in a statement.
The official claimed Gai could have played a role in the 8 July clashes between the country’s rival forces next to the presidential palace. Over 270 soldiers died when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with armed forces allied to Machar in Juba.
“The SPLM/A (IO) political Bureau condemns in the strongest terms possible the attempt to destabilize the SPLM/A (IO) and destroy the IGAD brokered peace agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) spearheaded by Gen. Taban Deng Gai out of personal vendetta against Dr. Riek Machar for not recommending his appointment as Minister of petroleum in the Transitional Government of National Unity,” further said Gatkouth.
According to the official, those who ousted Machar were “self-interest” groups who intend to destroy the SPLM/A-IO leadership.
“This fits into the grand scheme hatched by president Salva Kiir and Jieng Council of Elders, to divide, weaken and destroy the SPLM/A-IO in order to entrench himself in power, perpetuate the kleptocratic regime and maintain Jieng hegemony and domination,” he said.
Gatkuoth assured SPLM/A-IO-members to disregard the “unethical greedy” officials who claimed to have ousted Machar, describing them as “illegal officials” who were dismissed and made powerless.
Meanwhile, the official appealed to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, African Union and members of Troika countries who have supported the peace talks to push for third party forces in Juba for the smooth implementation of the agreement.
“We call upon the IGAD plus, AU and the United Nations to expedite the deployment of the regional third party intervention forces to enable Dr. Riek Machar return to his position in the Transitional Government of National Unity to implement the peace agreement,” he said.
Gai’s recent appointment, however, drew mixed reactions from members of the public.