Jan 4th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– South Sudan’s controversial First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, plans to visit predominately native Nuer areas that are loosely controlled by Salva Kiir government in Greater Upper Nile.
The visit, according to his spokesman, Dickson Gatluak Nyuot, targets contested major towns such as Waat of Bieh and Pagak in Maiwut States.
“Yes, the FVP is planning to visit Waat in Beih state,Nasir in Latjor and Pagak in Mai-wut states anytime from this month and this is meant to sensitise people to stand up and support peace in order to fight against untruth and injustice.” Dickson Gatluak says.
Gen. Taban controversially ascended to power, forcefully replacing Dr. Riek Machar Teny in July 2016, after a fierce battle that claimed many bodyguards of the two rival leaders Kiir and Machar; and since then Taban claims to control the main armed opposition, SPLM/A(IO), which has seen more Nuer ethnic group another minorities protesting his leadership.
With full access to national resources, arms, ammunition and a standby army from his ally, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Gen. Taban is believed to have used military might to advance war to areas such as Waat and Pagak that were relatively peaceful for the first three years of the conflict.
Both Waat and Pagak resettled hundreds of thousands of civilians, who were displaced from their homes in Unity State and Upper Nile until Gen. Taban joined President Kiir’s government in late 2016.
Although he preached more peace than war, South Sudan conflict has intensified more into areas that were peaceful in Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bhar el Ghazal and critics see Gen. Taban as a war widget than a tool for peace and reconciliation.
His visit to these areas is received with mixed feelings as residents, predominately Nuer people, see it as a mobilization for war and displacement of more civilians from those areas that are currently peaceful under SPLM/A[IO].
“The government plans to capture Akobo and they want to give that credit to Taban Deng Gai to mobilize support and restore his recognition among the Dinka people to gain their sympathy and popularity” Said Kuol Tap Machar, a political science student at East African university.
“This plan originates from the Dinka Council of Elders to fit Nuer against their fellow Nuer in order to kill them and reduce their population and the Dinka elders wash their hands. This ways, it may look good and advantageous to them for many years to come” Mr.Tap continued.
Similar protests were aired on social media by native of Lou-Nuer calling on their supporters and youth back home to not allow Gen. Taban to visit their major towns.
“Taban Deng MUST NOT step into HOLY land of Lou Nuer.We DO NOT want him at all.I hope Lou Nuer and other Nuer people back home read our posts/comments regarding worse betrayer in 21st century.I repeat Taban MUST NOT step into Lou Nuer land.” Said Gatluak War Jock in Queensland, Australia.
In response to these concerns, Taban’s spokesman once again reiterates that their leader plans to visit to sensitize the people about the “importance of peace and reconciliation”
“The core objectives of the mission is to sensitising people about the importance of peace and reconciliation in the post-conflict in the nation but not to make any destruction to the people of South Sudan.” Said Dickson Gatluak Nyuot, the Spokesman of Gen. Taban Deng Gai.
“Regarding the claim made by the rebels that the chairman and commander in chief of SPLM/A IO HE. General Taban Deng Gai is going to be sent the ground to Bieh and Phou states on land with a huge military convey supported with 7 tanks and armored personnel carriers with the intention to clear the rebels positions in those states is not true” Dickson continued.
Although a peace process has resumed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to revise a peace agreement that was signed in August 2015 and collapsed in July 2017, there is fear that war may escalate to more areas as dry season approaches.
The warring parties signed another Cessation of hostilities agreement, commitment to protect civilians and Humanitarian Access on December 21st last month; however, war has continued in multiple fronts including in some of the areas Gen. Taban plans to visit during this coming dry season.