August 22, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– To rebuild bilateral relationships with Khartoum, South Sudan’s embattled First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, arrived in Khartoum on Sunday, July 21, 2016, for the first time in a new portfolio as Vice President – controversially replacing his former boss, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
According to officials from Salva Kiir’s government, Gai was well furnished with especial gift-away offers to bolster relations and build confident with Khartoum in his new capacity and also as a representative of Kiir’s new government.
Responding to media, Mayiik Ayii, the Minister in the office of President Salva Kiir, said Gai was carrying “especial message of commitment” from President Salva Kiir “to establishing a very robust and productive relationship in the fields of diplomacy, economic trade and political ties between the two countries in pursuit of mutual interest”.
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Gai was accompanied by a huge delegation that include the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs Kuol Manyang Juuk, other ministers and security officials, and was received by Sudan’s First Vice-President, Bakri Hassan Salih and a number of cabinet ministers.
“We have received Taban Deng as the first vice president of South Sudan,” Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Kamal Ismail told reporters at Khartoum airport
After several hours of meetings between Taban’s delegation and top security officials on Satureday, Sudan’s First Vice President, Bakri Hassan, who acknowledged Taban as a First Vice President, said it is not Sudan to decide who should be a president or a Vice President in the South, noting that South Sudan is an independent country that is capable of making its internal decisions.
“We receive Taban in his capacity as Vice-President of South Sudan and would cooperate with him,” he said.
“We aren’t the party who decides who should be the President or Vice-President of South [Sudan] because this is an internal affair that must be decided by the South. Our general stance is to deal with the events as they are and take into consideration that the government of the South is a legitimate one,” he continued
Other Sudanese government officials left the status of South Sudan’s First Vice President as an open debate but assured their people and the region that Sudan remains committed to IGAD-Plus brokered peace deal as the viable option to restore peace and stability in South Sudan.
“Sudan reaffirmed its firm stance toward IGAD’s resolutions to resolve South Sudan’s crisis through negotiations and dialogue” Said H.E. Kamal Ismail, Sudan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Many South Sudanese believe that Taban’s mission is to consolidate powers in his position as the First Vice President and also to rebuild Mr. Kiir’s damaged relationships within the region and also with the rest of the world.
Taban visited Nairobi-Kenya earlier last week and will also be sent to New York to explain his position and that of Salva Kiir’s government in a few days.
So far, Mr. Gai has not been acknowledged by the region, AU, UN and other peace partners, forcing the receiving nations to deal with him with a lot of caution.
In Nairobi, Taban met with president Uhuru Kenyatta, who assured his commitment and that of Kenyan towards South Sudan Peace Process but pledged strong allegiance to IGAD-Plus peace agreement, saying:
‘With South Sudan First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai, who briefed me on the efforts by the GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT SALVA KIIRof to implement the peace accord in line with the IGAD recommendations.’ Said Uhuru Kenyatta after Taban’s visit.
Mr. Taban also met the Sudanese President, Omar el Bashir, today in Khartoum and assured him of cooperation on oil sector and security arrangements along the Sudanese borders.
Taban, who replaced Dr. Machar through a military takeover, termed as coup by SPLM/SPLA-IO politicians, with help of Salva Kiir’s army, initially promised to step down once Machar returns; however, Gai has shifted his position in the last two days following media reports that Machar is alive and now seeking medical attention in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Machar, who remains the legitimate chairman and commander-in-chief of the SPLM/SPLA-IO, fled the capital after a heavy fighting and bombardment on his compound in Juba between July 8th and 11th.
The Opposition leader has assured to return to Juba as the legitimate First Vice President as soon as a regional force is deployed and security arrangement is implemented but his opponents in Juba want him to stay in exile and allow Taban to work with his new boss, Salva Kiir.