November 1, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has downplayed the significance that the absence from unity government of the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, will derail implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement, saying the country must move forward.
- First Vice-President Riek Machar (L) and President Salva Kiir (R) listen to the national anthem following a ceremony during which Machar was sworn in on April 26, 2016. (Phot AFP/Samir Bol)
Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, Tut Kew Gatluak, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the cabinet had clearly stated and affirmed during a series of meetings with the delegation of the African Union the government’s commitment to fully implement the agreement.
“The delegation of the African Union Peace and Security came and was able to hold series of meetings with all the stakeholders and went to Malakal where they met the internally displaced persons in POC’s protection of civilian’ sites managed by the United Nations in South Sudan,” said Gatluak.
“In the meeting with the government they were convinced that a lot has been done. And it proved the commitment of the government to go ahead with the implementation of the peace agreement,” he claimed.
Meanwhile President Kiir’s controversially appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, also said absence of Machar in Juba could not endanger the implementation of the agreement, claiming that there was no good working relationship between him and the government.
"The days when Riek Machar was in Juba, we witnessed strange relationship between him and government," said Gai.
Gai, a former chief negotiator for Machar during two years of talks with the government to end conflict, stressed that people of South Sudan need to move forward.
The president, he said, needs a partner and he cannot work in a vacuum. “Leadership of the SPLM-IO decided to go ahead with the implementation because the first vice-president is not here. He is not in Juba. So how do we move forward? He cannot take charge of his responsibility and the people of South Sudan need the things to go forward. They need the peace to be implemented,” he explained.
He was speaking to the delegation of the African Union over the weekend before departing the country on Monday after spending three days in the country to interact with different stakeholders in the peace agreement.