August 7, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The outcome of the Addis Ababa summit of the heads of state and government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is “encouraging”, said the official spokesperson of the leader of the opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO).
- Riek Machar, left, first vice president of the Republic of South Sudan, and Salva Kiir, the president, at the first meeting of the new transitional coalition government in Juba, South Sudan, in April, 2016 (Jason Patinkin/AP)
James Gatdet Dak, spokesperson for Riek Machar, Former First Vice President who was replaced two weeks ago in a controversial process rejected by IGAD, said the resolutions of the East African regional body could revive the “collapsing” peace agreement if implemented with speed.
“We welcome the fact that IGAD has not supported the illegal transitional leadership changes in Juba. Their resolution, although weak, expects Taban Deng Gai to step down. Whatever process that took place in the temporary absence of the legitimate First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, will be undone before he returns to Juba,” said James Gatdet Dak.
He also said all their ministers who were replaced illegally will be reinstated to their ministerial portfolios and the new ministers who were “sneaked in” will be removed.
He condemned the action by President Salva Kiir to replace SPLM-IO ministers “unilaterally per the recommendation of a defector, Gai, who is no longer a member of the SPLM-IO”, saying it was a serious violation of the Article 6.5 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS).
The opposition leader’s spokesman however commended the IGAD heads of state and government for resolving to deploy a third party force in the capital, Juba, saying this has been the position of the SPLM-IO leadership but which “President Kiir’s faction was reluctant to accept it.”
PROTECTION OR INTERVENTION
While the government under President Kiir said it would accept a protection force, but not an intervention force, Machar’s spokesperson, Dak, said there is no reason to quarrel over the terminologies as the two words mean the same thing.
He said as long as the government accepted a third party force whether by protection or intervention, adding the two practically carry out the same task.
“Protection force also means intervention force. You cannot protect leaders, officials, citizens or government’s key installations without intervening. The two are interchangeable words where one cannot be applied without doing the other militarily,” Dak said.
“Foreign troops separating two rival national armies, even bodyguards, or protecting leaders and citizens by itself is an intervention,” he added.
He said officials of the government delegation who were “lectured” about the outcome of the summit did not tell the truth to the public in Juba about what actually transpired at the IGAD summit in Addis Ababa, adding that the chiefs of general staff of the armies in the region will visit Juba soon to make ground preparations for the deployment of the at least 14,000 strong force to take control.
He said President Kiir should now reverse his recent decrees by reinstating Machar and his ministers to their rightful positions per the peace agreement.
Dak also said the opposition forces will “optionally” be in a position to take control of Juba if President Kiir’s faction will not comply with the IGAD resolutions.
He accused the government’s forces of continuing with “suicide mission” offensives against their forces around Juba, saying the SPLA-IO forces have been moving closer to Juba “slowly but surely” from different directions as they defeat forces loyal to President Kiir.
He further claimed that Juba-Yei road and Juba-Mundri road as well as northwest of Juba around Terekeka have remained closed as their forces are in control on all these routes.