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South Sudan First Vice President – Hopeless But Dangerous To a Lasting Peace!

South Sudan's Incumbent First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, during a funeral service of late Gen. Chigai Atem.....
South Sudan’s Incumbent First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, during a funeral service of late Gen. Chigai Atem…..

August 5, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — A political feud that continued to rage on between a breakaway faction of the SPLM/A in opposition, which was initially led by the current First Vice President, Stephen Taban Deng Gai, coupled with the return of political stability featuring Dr. Riek Machar Teny, is slowly consuming its leaders.

South Sudan’s incumbent First Vice President, who has lost nearly 10 kgs during the last few months of relative calm, is losing grip on politics as President Salva Kiir and elites of the Jieng Council of Elders are working out possibilities of building trust to work with the former First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny in order to restore peace once and for all.

Currently, Gen. Taban is in a political feud with the former Minister of Labor, Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, but Taban’s real enemies are not the members of Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth group but his fellow Bentiu-Nuer politicians.

Taban has been at the forefront of political feuds in Unity State starting from mid 1990s and he is being accused of having committed atrocities against the Bul-Nuer, who have now taken over power in Liech[Unity] State, and he is believed to have humiliated politicians in that state including the current governor of Northern Liech State Dr. Nguen Manytuel who is now a closer ally to president Kiir.

Taban is also believed to have been the main conspirator behind the July 2016 J1 dogfight that almost killed the leader of the armed opposition, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.

According to political analysts, Gen. Taban had to ally to the then Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan and President Salva Kiir, to get rid of the then first Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, so that he could take his position and use it against his main rival, Dr. Nguen Manytuel and his group, as the only way to protect himself from the Bul-Nuer politicians and generals but so far that did not yield the expected results as Nguen retained his position and his private militia is still intact.

With the return of Dr. Riek Machar and restoration of peace and stability, Taban who has lost everything including his political party, may find himself more vulnerable to his enemies more than before – something that keeps the untested general awake at night.

Despite his current ranks and high profile positions in Kiir’s government, the first vice president [Taban] is being bullied by a non-employed politician and a junior officer, Maj. Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang, just a few miles away from his reach.

“H.E the President Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit should be very careful with this conman who is out to destroy his legacy,” Said Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, who has imposed himself as the Chairman of the Interim Governing Council of the SPLM-IO in TGONU.

“It should be noted that this is not the first time for the FVP to advance his mad smearing campaign against my name. In January he alleged that I had defected and joined Gen. Thomas Cirilo to wage rebellion against the government,” Gen. Gathoth continued.

“It’s on this pretext that he rounded up my bodyguards while I was still outside the country and detained them at the National Security facility ‘Blue House through his NS connection,” he added.

With the return of peace and stability, Taban may lose nearly all his current powers and he thinks his enemies may not only bully him but will come after his very throat.

It is unclear what would be the next steps for Taban and his main ally, Ambassador Lol Gatkuoth who is now stiped off of his ministerial position and remains jobless in Juba, but his options are limited to derailing the current peace agreement, forming new alliances with the incoming armed political parties or rebelling to return at a later date – perhaps with more powers.

So far Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth believes that Taban is working out possibilities of throwing his allegiance behind Dr. Riek Machar Teny once more but it remains to be verified if anything of such is possible given the huge gap that was created by the 2016 incident.

“This is unheard-of and frantic sentiment by the FVP Gen Taban Deng Gai in his attempt to cover up his secret dealings with SPLM-IO members residing at Palm Africa Hotel,”  Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth said in his latest public letter that was extended to South Sudan News Now.

“On the same periphery, the FVP Gen Taban Deng Gai cheap propaganda alleges that the reason myself and the legitimate interim leadership of SPLM0-IO in TGONU has not integrated to SPLM is the fact that we are waiting for the return of Rick Machar and form an alliance with him,” he revealed.

Taban and Gen. Gathoth have been having bad relationship since their SPLM/A-IO days in Pagak, however, they tried to work together once more when they arrived in Juba but that didn’t last very long.

“It has come to my attention that the FVP Gen. Taban Deng Gai has been circulating baseless, false, and misleading statements about me and the entire interim leadership of SPLM-IO in TGONU [Transitional Government of National Unity]. My supporters have let me know they are not happy with this, and I personally am extremely disappointed that anyone should feel the need to mislead the people of South Sudan to desperately gamble his political downfall,” General Gatkuoth said in the statement.

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