What If Dr. Machar Returns to Juba Tomorrow?
August 10, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— As pressure mounts on South Sudan’s First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, to return to Juba to resume his position and kickstart the full implementation of an agreement that is now stalling, many supporters and sympathizers of the two main warring parties wonder of where the current acting First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, would be “reshuffled” to.
Taban has been fired by Dr. Machar from SPLM/SPLA in Opposition and also relieved from his ministry of Mining for defecting to SPLM-IG, a call that President Salva Kiir politically downplayed.
Kiir, however, relieved Taban from the Ministry of Mining to appoint him as the country’s First Vice President to replace Machar but as per the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), Machar has to come back to resume his role as the First Vice President for peace to be implemented.
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If he returns to his position, Machar is expected to redo many changes Taban hastly made within the last two weeks including the controversial appointment of ministers, MPs, presidential advisors and even the speaker of the Transitional Legislative Assembly.
Salva Kiir’s faction is now depending on Gen. Taban Deng Gai to stand his ground against Machar’s return to peace implementation, which President Salva Kiir deliberately declares he never wanted to see happening.
Speaking to media two days ago in Juba, Ateny Wek Ateny, the press secretary of President Salva Kiir said that Mr. Kiir will not ask Gen. Taban to step down for Riek unless if he chooses to do so.
“They (regional countries) are urging him (Machar) to return to Juba. What happens if he returns is an internal matter. And this matter lies with Taban Deng Gai to decide whether to step down or does what he thinks is right in the interest of peace. What is clear is that there is no law compelling him to do so. The IGAD has allowed the current setting and it is a matter of Deng to decide if he steps down and go back as minister,” explained Ateny in an interview with reporters on Monday.
According to observers, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, was betrayed by the peace agreement [ARCISS] and the ministry of Mining that Machar gave him was not powerful enough to protect him from his main political rivals – the sons of Manytuil and others who took power after his sacking in 2012 in Unity State.
Manytuils have been at loggerhead with Gen. Taban for more than 2 decades in Unity State, forcing them to rebel many times; however, the current conflict overturned that table and left Taban vulnerable to brothers who now command military on Kiir’s side at national and state level. Governor Ngueng Manytuil and his leadership withdrawn from Juba in May as Taban’s moves became visibly clear.
Critics believe Gen. Taban has made enough political foes, especially during his leadership in Unity State, and also during his last two years in SPLM/SPLA-IO long before his recent controversial ascend to SPLM/SPLA-IO leadership in Juba.
It is believed that Machar’s return to resume his position as the First Vice President will leave Taban more vulnerable to his enemies more than before and therefore he may try to pursue more military option than seeing Dr. Machar’s returning to the city.
According to inside reports, due to fear of sanctions, arms embargo and UN Trusteeship the SPLM in Government has assured Gen. Taban to take over the position of Secretary General of SPLM-IG if Dr. Riek Machar returns to Juba, however, it remains to be seen if such position would be sufficient enough to protect Taban and his interests from many uncertainties.
Taban has tried to plea to Dr. Machar to stay in exile or return home as an ordinary citizen and wait for the next election, however, none of his appeals seem to be gaining momentum.