September 23, 2016 (BENTIU) – A South Sudanese official has expressed dismay after a United States senator described the country’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai as a leader "lacking consistency in representation".
- President Salva Kiir Mayardit greets state minister Lam Tungwar Kueigwong in Juba where he received a delegation led by Unity State deputy governor Mabek Lang to discuss the security situation there on Friday 25 September 2015 (ST Photo)
Lam Tungwar, a minister in Northern Liech, one of South Sudan’s new states, claimed the senator interfered with Gai’s ethnic background.
“This is a vague statement, unprofessionally fake, unfounded and a baseless accusation. The senator used a major street jargon that shouldn’t be entertained by all nationals in South Sudan,” said Lam.
He said the humiliation of the first vice president was “disappointing”.
“Gen. Taban Deng Gai comes from the constituency of Northern Liech state and particularly from Jikany sub-clan of Nuer community and it’s very unfortunate to see foreigners who strongly meddle in our local affairs and lower themselves to encourage ethnicity through a statement like this,” the minister told Sudan Tribune.
He urged the U.S. official not to interfere in the affairs of the world’s youngest nation.
“America is a country of immigrants and a country of multi-ethnicity and colours. It is astonishing to hear a complete senator talking about a person whose nationality is clear and is not questioned by any of his countrymen and women. Who is [Benjamin] Cardin to question the vice president about his constituency?” he asked.
Lam said he was optimistic the new vice president will bring peace.
Gai, a former chief negotiator for the armed opposition faction, replaced Riek Machar as first vice president, after the latter fled the young nation’s capital in July.
Last week, the State Department says the United States is pledging nearly $133 million in additional humanitarian assistance to South Sudan’s refugees and internally displaced people.
The aid comes amid discussions over whether the U.S. should cut its aid to the country trying to recover from a violent civil war.
The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, last month, said his country’s humanitarian assistance to South Sudan will not continue forever if its leaders "are not prepared to do what’s necessary for their people."
More than one million people have fled South Sudan since fighting broke out in December 2013, and over 1.6 million people have been internally displaced. Tens of thousands have been killed in the young nation.
The U.S. has given $1.9 billion in aid to South Sudan since its civil war started in 2013.