July 30, 2016 (JUBA) - Newly appointed South Sudanese First Vice President Gen. Taban Deng Gai has suggested that his former boss and SPLM in opposition Riek Machar should seek refuge claiming that rise power was legal.
- 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)
Gai replaced Machar as first Vice President in the transitional government of national unity (TGoNU) on Tuesday after being formally appointed President Salva Kiir in a decree. He was nominated by the faction of SPLM IO leaders in Juba, a day after Machar, who remained in hiding since fleeing the capital two weeks ago after four days of fighting, dismissed him from the armed opposition party.
Speaking at his reception ceremony at the office First Vice President, Gai dismissed Machar narrative that his appointment is illegal.
"My former chairman Dr Riek Machar Teny, was saying yesterday and said the process that I have followed, with my colleagues in the SPLM-IO by replacing him were illegal," said Gai, who was flanked by SPLM IO deputy chairman Gen. Alfred Lado Gore and Vice President James Wani Igga.
"And he [Machar] said there was an article in the agreement that we did not use. This is not true. What we have done in IO is legal: one is to save your life, number two is to save the life and unity of this country," he said, mocking Machar for speaking while struggling to save his life.
According to the peace agreement, each party should select a replacement within 48 hours after the position fall vacant for any reason. But each party have it own internal policy which the SPLM IO faction under Machar said were not met when Gai was nominated.
But in a clear break of ties with Machar, Gai said the former First Vice President should return to the capital as a normal citizen or stay away.
"Riek is wrong and I’m advising him that he should come back to Juba so that he come and stay peacefully, or he go to anywhere. He can go to Addis Ababa [Ethiopia] or to Nairobi [Kenya] or to Kampala [Sudan] or to Khartoum [Sudan] to stay there peacefully and wait for elections so that you [South Sudanese] come and elect him to the office or you come and tell him; "look we don’t trust you, we cannot elect you into office’," he said in a statement boardcast by state-owned SSBC TV.
Gai defended his attempt to hold to power despite promising last weekend that he was filing a vacuum and would step down once Machar return, saying South Sudan deserve peace which he said Machar "cannot be trusted to deliver."
He charged Machar for disagreeing with all South Sudanese politicians including SPLM founder Dr. John Garang in 1991 and President Kiir in December 2013 and June 2016. He said he is replacing Machar to ensure smooth transition to peace and democracy in the fragile country.