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Ex-rebel commander renews call for removal of FVP Taban, denies reports of return to Machar

South Sudan First Vice-President, Taban Deng Gai, left, and his arch rival, former South Sudan Labor Minister, Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, right (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

November 12th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan former minister of labor and public service and ex-rebel commander has renewed calls for First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai to be removed.

Early this year, General Gatkuoth called for President Salva Kiir Mayardit to remove the FVP saying he has created divisions within the internal front weakening it against SPLM-IO led by Dr. Riek Machar.

In an exclusive interview with Nyamilepedia this morning, the powerful former rebel commander, said President Salva should remove Taban, a controversial figure in South Sudan’s politics, from the First Vice-President position.

“I am still on track asking President Kiir to remove Taban within 100 days,” he said.

This, Gathoth said, is because Taban “failed to fight prisoner Riek Machar for the last three years. So his presence in the position would be a waste of resources and the position itself.”

Gathoth further added that he is “the best person who fit for the position. I should be appointed and do my best within the next one-hundred days.”

“I said last year that Dr. Riek Machar and Taban Deng are family members from Western Nuer both cannot become vice presidents at the expense of Bahr el-Ghazal and Eastern Nuer people whatsoever the reason for any political issue.”

Reacting to reports that he was intending to return to Machar’s group, Gatkuoth said the rumors were meant by the “enemies of peace” to distort the reality saying he don’t have any intention to return t0 Machar.

“I don’t have any intention to go back to the SPLM-IO under Riek [Machar],” he said.

Last month, a photo he took with SPLM-IO deputy chief of staff General James Koang Chuol sparked speculations that the ex-rebel commander may be intending to return to the SPLM-IO.

Gathoth however told the Nyamilepedia from Juba that he met Koang because they came from the same area and they were once on the same page when the SPLM-IO split in 2014 along with Gen. Tang Ginye and Gen. Gatdet Yaka.

“I and General Koang Chuol have many common things that connects us,” Gatkuoth said. “We are related, we came from the same Payam, we are members of Jamus battalion in 1983 and also members of SPLA first batch officers in Bonga in 1984.”

Gatkuoth said he, Koang and late General Gatdet were pillars of what is now a divided SPLM-IO adding that the two are committed to the ongoing peace process.

“I, Gen Koang Chuol, and late Gen Peter Gatdet were the pillars of the SPLM-IO,” he said.  After the SPLM power struggle which sparked the conflict in 2013, SPLM-IO wouldn’t have established without the three of us.”

He added that the three were committed to “peace implementation to end the SPLM’s senseless conflict that devastated our country and resulted into destruction, displacement of our communities, lack of development and hunger.”

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