August 17, 2016 (JUBA) – Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has become the first regional leader to host the newly controversially appointed South Sudanese First Vice President, General Taban Deng Gai.
- Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Gai who led a high level delegation was flanked by South Sudanese Defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, Gender and Social Welfare, Awut Deng Acuil, Petroleum Minister, Ambassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elia Lomoro.
President Kenyatta did not give details of the meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday when he posted a brief comment on his Facebook page.
“I met with South Sudan First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai at State House, who briefed me on the efforts by the Government of President Salva Kiir to implement the peace accord in line with the IGAD recommendations,” said President Kenyatta.
The Kenyan leader, whose relations with his South Sudanese counterpart President Salva Kiir is seen uneasy by analysts, also posted photos of the meeting on social media.
Speaking at a press conference organized by South Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Gai said the meeting with President Kenyatta was “fruitful.”
Gai blamed Machar during the news conference in Nairobi for stalling the implementation of the peace agreement. He said the armies of the SPLA under President Kiir and SPLA-IO will be merged starting immediately and ending by May 2017 as detailed by President Kiir in his speech to parliament on Monday.
Gai replaced Riek Machar in a controversial nomination by section of the SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) leaders in Juba.
Machar’s supporters said the move was illegal and called Gai an “illegitimate First Vice President” that must resign for Machar to resume his position. Machar’s whereabouts is unknown after fleeing Juba last month following four days of street battles between his forces and those loyal to President Kiir.
He said he will return only when the United Nations Security Council’s approved 4,000 protection force arrived in Juba.