Home | News    Wednesday 10 August 2016

S. Sudan presidential spokesperson says Machar’s return depends on Taban


August 9, 2016 (JUBA) - The spokesman of South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, said the return of the ousted First Vice President, Riek Machar, to his position is at the mercy of Taban Deng Gai who replaced him.

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South Sudanese Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny addresses journalists following renewed fighting in Juba July 11, 2016 (Reuters Photo)

Presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, whose government had accepted in principle and welcomed the deployment of the regional protection force in the country, said the government would not be compelled to remove the new first vice president if he does not want to step down from his new role.

"They (regional countries) are urging him (Machar) to return to Juba. What happens if he returns is an internal matter. And this matter lies with Taban Deng Gai to decide whether to step down or does what he thinks is right in the interest of peace. What is clear is that there is no law compelling him to do so. The IGAD has allowed the current setting and it is a matter of Deng to decide if he steps down and go back as minister,” explained Ateny in an interview with reporters on Monday.

This came after Juba last week agreed to allow in foreign troops as part of the African Standby force agreed upon by the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

It further encourages Machar to rejoin the peace process and for President Kiir and people to embrace a return to the spirit of long lasting peace in their country. During the recent IGAD summit in Ethiopia, South Sudan agreed to the deployment of protection forces in Juba.

But the opposition faction led by Machar accused President Salva Kiir of using Gai to divide the SPLM-IO and destroy the peace deal. They also warned that destroying the peace agreement can backfire on all.

“President Kiir and his group may be excited that they have a yes man through whom to destroy the peace agreement by dividing the SPLM-IO. But this will backfire on them if their goal is to return the country to war. You may not know what will happen next in a situation of war,” said James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesperson.

He said Gai has quickly denied the existence of SPLA-IO army per the agreement, calling on it to be immediately integrated under his new commander-in-chief and also compromised other provisions of the peace deal, including "surrendering the speakership of the national parliament to President Kiir’s faction."

He said the best thing for the country is to fully implement the peace agreement by undoing the “illegal” actions recently decreed by President Kiir, and get back to the path of peace.

New first vice president Gai, who led South Sudan government delegation to the summit known as IGAD-Plus, said he was ready to step down from his position and give it back to Riek Machar once he returns to Juba. But this contradicted his earlier public comment which called on Machar to return to Juba as normal citizen or stay in exile until 2018 elections.

IGAD Executive Secretary, Mahboub Maalim, said the Heads of State of member states have directed the chiefs of staff to go to Juba and discuss the modalities of deployment of the protection force with the government of South Sudan.

"The government of South Sudan has accepted with no condition the deployment of protection force," he said.

Gai replaced Machar in the wake of renewed violent fighting in the capital Juba between 8 and 11 July, which left about 300 people killed and 60,000 others seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The supporters of Gai cited failure to communicate with their leader to replace him but it remains to be seen if the seeming ambitious Gai will relinquish the seat.

Machar in his Aljazeera TV interview last week said he had delegated his deputy, Alfred Ladu Gore, to act on his behalf until he returned to Juba, but Gai, who is junior as number four in the hierarchy of the SPLM-IO leadership, grabbed the seat.

Machar’s spokesman, Dak, sees the changes as illegal and argues that Machar remains the legitimate leader of the armed opposition recognized by the peace agreement.

"Dr. Riek Machar remains the legitimate First Vice President of South Sudan. Whoever sneaked in the office illegally in violation of the August 2015 peace agreement should step down. All the SPLA-IO ministers illegally replaced will be reinstated under their legitimate leader," Dak said .

He also criticized President Kiir for accepting an illegal replacement process of “self-nomination” of Gai, saying this indicated that it was a conspiracy involving President Kiir.

South Sudan has faced ongoing challenges since 2013 between the two leaders erupted into full blown conflict. The crisis has produced one of the world’s worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have spread to areas which previously were unaffected in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan.

In July, deadly clashes in Wau resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, while up to 35,000 fled their homes and sought refuge either in churches or at a place adjacent to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s branch office in the area.


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  • 10 August 00:01, by lino

    If SPLM-IG still needs Taban in the presidency then Wani can step down for him. Poor Wani; your seat will be given to another Nuer!!!

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    • 10 August 05:02, by Freedom Fighter

      The question is, will Riek Machar return to Juba as commander in chief of the White Army still, or just a normal citizen.

      In my view, White Army should not come back again to Juba with Riek for their lack of basic principles of organization and military discipline. They should be kept there in Fagak, and the UN body guards be assigned to Riek for his protection should he return to his position

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      • 10 August 06:50, by choldit

        Is z a clear expression of fear for SPLA-io for the lesson they gave to SPLA-ig in J-1 and Jebel battles of juba? Are we in process of realisation that the SPLA-ig cannot protect Salva Kiir anymore? Wait we can use Salah Gosh, JEM and UPDF at the same time since the Sudanese govt doesn’t worry. Wait, how fat is JCE bank account, will it be able to pay all? Oh, we will use president kiir’s $ laund

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        • 10 August 16:44, by Hardlinner

          choldit are u not ashamed to learned that those IO guards run away from Juba even when ceasefire was signed. government did intend to overrun them in J1 for your info. the fact that Riek rebels don’t hold any major town speak for itself. smart nuer have already abandoned you and your savage leader(Riek). your rebellion is never going anywhere.

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  • 10 August 01:53, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    The government must follow the terms of the agreement methodically in order to be recognised as a system of integrity. Stop manipulating political weaklings to score diplomatic victory over your political rivals.

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  • 10 August 04:25, by Force 1

    The regional intervention forces need to make sure that their first vice president Riek machar they are coming to protect is actually out there alive and is on his route to Juba for his seat or else; what are they coming for to protect?

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  • 10 August 09:29, by Eastern

    The Dinka government in Juba is putting another obstacle to the implementation of the peace agreement by claiming that the position of Dr Machar is at the "mercy" of El Tabani knowing very well that El Tabani is their handiwork and as usual JCE is opposed to the ARCISS. JMEC, IGAD, AU and the region consider this glaring violations "internal matters". Peace will remain elusive in South Sudan!

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    • 10 August 10:24, by Deng II

      Achieving peace will depend on how long will Dr.Machar live and still active desires for presidency. For me, like others Dinka, Machar problem is getting developing by the day, in our hearts up to the point there will be no treatment. Putting Machar on South Sudan presidency seat, Dinka survival on the balance. When he collaborates with Arab,he killed million of Dinka direct and indirect.

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      • 10 August 10:33, by Eastern

        That’s bullshit! More dinkas than I can count on my fingers went to join Khartoum during the SPLA war with the Sudan: Thon Arok Thon, Kerbino Kwanyin Bol, etc. Why do you people want to rewrite history by painting Riek Machar and your Dinka people who wined and dined with Khartoum?

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        • 10 August 16:51, by Hardlinner

          eastern it is good to mention some of dinka traitors that joined north during war of liberation. but one thing u failed to add is, were there dinka soldiers/ civilians that when after the defected dinka leaders. the answer is no. so nuer should learn to disregard their nuer traitors like Riek who have caused untold death and displacement. so you can not compare the two cases.

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          • 10 August 17:47, by Eastern


            You are delusional; here you were talking about Dr Machar not who followed him. Those from southern Sudan who went to Khartoum were mostly from Bahr el Ghazal; hunger let dinkas to "willingly" give themselves to the Arabs. It had to take the effort of done shrewd Americans to "buy" these hapless folks out of slavery! Check the records!

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  • 10 August 10:58, by Jalaby

    What? it depends on Taban’s mercy?!!
    Mr. Kiir is the real Taban "Tire" person, Kiir everyday proves himself that he is true jackass "donkey"!

    Jalaby (Abo Jalabia)

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