July 26, 2016 (BENTIU) – South Sudan’s armed opposition (SPLM-IO) sector commander in oil-rich Unity state, Lt. Gen Simon Maguek Gai has dismissed Gen. Taban Deng Gai’s claims of having army support.
- 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)
Deng Gai, now the country’s first vice president having replaced Riek Machar, was dismissed from the armed opposition movement last Friday.
But, Maguek, in a statement said Gai never communicated with field commanders and that his recent utterance was a mere fabrication.
“This is a great lie released by Taban that he communicated with field commanders was a white lie. We are informing the general public of South Sudan that all our field commanders are firm in their support to Riek Machar Teny,” he said in the statement.
The rebel commander further accused Gai of internal struggles by eyeing at first vice presidency post as alternative counter revenge after he was not appointed as the Petroleum Minister by Machar.
“We the people of Unity state completely rejected and condemned that attempt by Salva Kiir through Jieng Council of Elders puppet Taban Deng in Juba - this is a violation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015 and it will not happen to accept such aimless decision and whoever supports this evil notion is an anti-peace lover in Republic of South Sudan,” stressed Maguek.
Meanwhile, the armed opposition governor of Unity state, Ruai Kuol Jal equally dismissed Gai’s claims of having support after being removed from the armed opposition leadership by Machar.
“The world must know that what is going on in Juba is a clear violation of the agreement. As per now, they will not blame us anymore because this is what the supporters of Kiir were looking to derail the peace,” he told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.
Kuol says the SPLM-IO militarily commands around the country still stand behind Machar, claiming that Gai was simply being misled by the Jieng Council of Elders who back his elevation to the new post.
The advocacy group, The Enough Project, warned of possibilities of full-scale war in South Sudan following President’s Salva Kiir’s removal of Machar from the vice-presidency.