August 29, 2016 (JUBA) – The body monitoring implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement said it would work with the controversially-appointed First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, although hopes for honouring last year’s peace accord were diminishing.
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said President Salva Kiir and former first vice President Riek Machar “lack political will” to work together and implement the peace agreement.
“Although the legitimacy of Taban Deng [Gai] as First Vice President is questionable, diplomats will work with him because they don’t have an option,” JMEC chairman and Festus Mogae told the Associated Press.
Gai was appointed to replace Machar, a move described as “illegal” by supporters of the former rebel leader.
Machar fled the South Sudanese capital Juba when his bodyguards clashed with soldiers loyal to President Kiir. He is now in Sudanese capital Khartoum.
JMEC’s position to work with Gai come days after U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and regional countries vowed last week to cooperate with the country’s new vice president.
Mogae said Kiir and Machar lack the political will to work together for peace in South Sudan.
“There is no political will to implement the peace agreement. They [Kiir and Machar] are bent on a military solution, not political solution,” he said.
He said Gai’s appointment adds weight to efforts to realize peace in the country.
“I am more disillusioned or less optimistic than I was when I first came. I thought that common and logic could persuade them to do right thing,” said the former Botswana president.