August 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese main opposition faction in South Sudan has welcomed comments by United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, on the need to deploy a third party force to Juba to secure the capital before any return of the “legitimate” First Vice President, Riek Machar.
- John Kerry chairman of Foreign Relations in US Senate meets with Riek Machar GoSS Vice-President Juba on October 23, 2011 (ST)
The opposition faction however criticized the US official, Kerry, for approving an “illegal” action by President Salva Kiir that chased away from Juba an important peace partner, Machar, in order to scrap provisions of the August 2015 peace deal in South Sudan which the US helped in brokering.
Speaking to reporters after meeting five foreign ministers of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday, Kerry was quoted in the media to have said a regional force should be deployed and that the replacement of Machar was consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS).
“With respect to Machar, it’s not up to the United States; it’s up to the leaders of South Sudan and the people of South Sudan and the political parties and the political process, and their neighbors, to weigh in on what is best or not best with respect to Machar,” said Kerry when asked by a reporter to comment on the controversial replacement of the armed opposition leader and former South Sudanese First Vice President, Riek Machar.
He said the process leading to Machar’s replacement with Gai has not broken any law.
“I think it’s quite clear that legally, under the agreement, there is allowance for the replacement in a transition of personnel, and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice president. And what they decide to do is going to be dependent on them in the context of the implementation of the peace agreement,” he added.
Kerry’s comments contradicted the IGAD resolutions which called on Gai to step down and Machar to be reinstated as First Vice President. It also contradicted the resolution of the United Nations Security Council which criticized the replacement as “inconsistent” with the peace agreement.
The comments attracted criticism from the SPLM-IO officials under Machar’s leadership, with his spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, describing Kerry’s comment as an “unfortunate contradiction” to the success of the implementation of the peace deal.
“I hope he [Kerry] was misquoted in the media. Otherwise it was an unfortunate comment of double standard and contradiction to the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement in South Sudan. If he thought it was a good idea to chase away from Juba the important peace partner, Dr. Riek Machar and his officials and army, and to illegally bring in a defector and President Salva Kiir’s partner in conspiracy to scrap provisions of the peace deal, then he is wrong. How will the agreement be implemented in such away which clearly violates it?” Dak inquired.
Dak said the article 6.5 of the agreement has been violated by the illegal replacement of Machar. He also dismissed the claim that the replacement was an internal process of the SPLM-IO.
“First, the illegal replacement has clearly violated the Article 6.5 of the peace agreement which deals with the temporary absence of the First Vice President. Second, it was never an internal legal process within the SPLM/SPLA (IO) party. This was a conspiracy between President Kiir and Taban Deng Gai, a defector to Kiir, to remove Machar in order to compromise or scrap vital provisions in the peace deal. How could the replacement process be done by five officials in the absence of more than 20 members of the SPLM-IO’s Political Bureau (PB), or in the absence of hundreds of members of the National Liberation Council (NLC) of the party? There was no quorum and Taban Deng was already dismissed from the membership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO). Even in the United States a party leader cannot be removed in such an illegal action,” he said.
He added that either Kerry was misled, or not well informed or simply did not bother to investigate what actually transpired in the illegal procedure or action to replace Machar.
He said the US official should have respected the resolutions of IGAD and the United Nations Security Council who “properly studied the situation” with participation of representatives of the US government.
Dak also said Machar is in full control of the SPLM-IO and its army, adding that Gai had no grass root support in the party.
He said the action by President Kiir to try to divide the SPLM-IO’s leadership was a clear indication that he was looking for a way to destroy the peace deal.