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James Wani Igga

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James Wani Igga, Speaker of South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly (ST)

Name: James Wani Igga

Position: Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, 23 August 2013-present.

Career:

Political Affiliation: Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)

Born: 1949, Krillo, Juba County, Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married with children.

Education

Wani attended elementary studies at Kaperto Bush School in 1959 and later Okaru between 1962 and1965. His studies in Okaru were disrupted by the civil unrest in his area.

Thereafter, he moved to Tonj intermediate school, in the present day Warrap State, where he continued with elementary education until he joined Rumbek senior secondary between 1972 and 1975.

Igga was one of the first South Sudanese who were accorded scholarship to study at various public and private universities in Egypt after the signing of the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, which ended the first civil war between north and south Sudan that lasted for 17 years. He attended Cairo University of Economics and was part of the groups that formed the Juwama Africa Patriotic Organization (JAPO), becoming its chairperson.

Joining the SPLM

Wani joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in 1985, instead of returning to Khartoum after finishing studies in Cairo, Egypt.

He was recommended and commissioned to the rank of captain upon joining the movement and was one of the commanders selected by the leadership of the rebel movement under the commander of late John Garang de Mabior to attend a Division Commanders’ course in Cuba, in 1986.

Igga later rose to become major after completing commanders training course following his returned to the SPLA liberated and controlled areas.

Active Roles

He commanded Shakus (hammer) battalion in 1987, becoming the zonal commander for Central Equatoria and became the member of SPLA command. Igga was one of the respected leaders by civilian population in the Equatoria Region, pulling him closer to the late John Garang.

He was one of the senior rebel commanders and representatives at the peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya with the SPLA-Nasir faction after the split in 1991. He remained with SPLA-Torit faction after the split. He later became the head of its delegation in November 1991 to dialogue peaceful settlement.

In addition, Igga was also part of the delegation which accompanied John Garang for a roundtable discussion about peace held in the Ugandan capital Kampala in 1993, mediated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). He helped the movement recruit from the Equatoria region, after launching a mobilization campaign articulating the vision, objective and mission of the rebel group.

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Igga and other comrades in Eastern Equatoria state during the bush era (File photo)

He further helped to establish a technical committee for intellectuals in 2000, after he was appointed chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for political affairs commission. The body had a mission to help the movement with the laying out structures for civil administration in the then SPLM/A liberated and controlled areas, both in the South and north.

Igga was one of the top rebel officials appointed as Caretaker governors and posted to Upper Nile State in 2005 after late John Garang became the first vice president in Sudan and president of Southern Sudan. He became the first speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative during the interim period, a position he held until South Sudan became an independent following the successful 2011 referendum.

Making way for Machar

By the mid 1990s - due to the 1991 split between Riek Machar and John Garang, coupled with the death of many senior officers and founders of the movement - Igga had risen to become the third in command - after Garang and Salva Kiir Mayardit.

In 2002 when the movement reunited under the Nairobi Declaration, Igga accepted to step down for Machar, partly in respect of the hierarchy which had prevailed prior to the 1991 split.

Garang’s Death

Between 2002 and 2005, before Garang’s untimely death just months after signing a landmark peace deal with Khartoum, Kiir became the SPLM/A deputy chairman for military affairs; Machar became the movement’s deputy chairman for administration while Igga was tasked with political affairs in the third deputy position.

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South Sudan’s new vice president James Wani Igga (Photo: Larco Lomayat)

Garang’s death led to Kiir assuming the presidency of the region and chairmanship of the SPLM. Kiir then appointed Machar as his deputy with Igga becoming the speaker of the Southern Sudan National Legislative Assembly.

Promotion to Vice President

Both men served in their respective positions for eight years until Kiir sacked Machar in July 2013, replacing him with Igga the next month. Machar did not attend Igga’s inauguration on 26 August but said later that he had been ready to participate in the ceremony if he had been invited.

Igga the Author

Meanwhile, Igga is the author of four books, namely; Rediscovering Our Roots, Fundamental of SPLM Political Work and Orientation, 2001, Basic Concept for SPLM Political enlightenment, 2001 and Battle Fought and the Secrecy of Diplomacy.



 
 

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