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August 20, 2016(Nyamilepedia) ——- Disappointed that Taban Deng Gai, the First Vice President for President Kiir, continue to claim that he controls forces in SPLM/SPLA liberated areas, the press secretary of Dr. Riek Machar challenge him to go to IO headquarter in Pagak to show that he controls the army.
Responding to Machar’s spokesman, Taban Deng Gai said that he commands all the forces of SPLA in opposition and he is now the Chairman and Commander-in-chief, an argument that interests Salva Kiir’s administration.
According to Michael Makuei Lueth, the government will not involve in what they term as SPLM/A-IO internal issues but to SPLM/SPLA -IO, who are loyal to Machar, Taban is no longer on their side but more on Kiir’s side.
Although this debate on who controls the forces may not continue for long while the government is reporting new attacks on its positions in Jonglei and Upper Nile by forces control by Machar, Gatdet is challenging his former colleague to dare to travel to army headquarters in Pagak or Kaldak if he would return safely to Juba.
“Well, if the delusional officials who have surrendered to Salva Kiir think I am wrong and they believe to be SPLM/SPLA (IO), let their leader, Taban Deng Gai, or any of these “bought” position seekers visit either Pagak or Kaldak to see who is right here. I promise you that Stephen Taban Deng will never set foot in Pagak, Kaldak and in any other territories under the control of the SPLM/SPLA (IO). He can only visit areas under Kiir.” Gatdet said.
According to SPLA records, Taban has not commanded any troops for the last 20 years and any claim of controlling forces would need strong evidence for it to hold.
Many critics believe that Gai is just another “28 states” project created by the government to kill the peace agreement for Kiir to maintain status quo.