Taban in dispute with loyalists over decision to join Kiir

South Sudans first Vice President Taban Deng Gai announces the dissolution of his party and merging it with the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM -IG) led by the South Sudanese president, during a press conference in Juba on May 7, 2018. (Photo credit: AKUOT CHOL/AFP/Getty Images)
South Sudans first Vice President Taban Deng Gai announces the dissolution of his party and merging it with the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM -IG) led by the South Sudanese president, during a press conference in Juba on May 7, 2018. (Photo credit: AKUOT CHOL/AFP/Getty Images)

May 13th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, is in dispute with loyalists over his decision last week to integrate his SPLM-IO faction into the ruling SPLM-IG under the leadership of the country’s president, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardiit, sources told the Nyamilepedia on Sunday from the nation’s capital, Juba.

The dispute, as one of the sources explained, was over how the integration process would be executed as many were not previously members of the SPLM party before it fractured in December 2013.

“The First Vice President agreed to implement the Arusha agreement of reunification. One of the things that most people among the comrades of the party do not understand and are so suspicious of is how the agreement will accommodate them [those who were not previously members of the ruling SPLM party prior to 2013 crisis]. This is a subject of concern and the first vice president is yet to explain this to us because he has already agreed with the government to implement the agreement which stipulates that members of the SPLM should be reinstated to their previous position they held before 2013,” the source told the Nyamilepedia on the condition of anonymity.

“So what about us who defected from other political parties and joined the rebellion and ended up with him, will the agreement accommodate us also,” he asked.

The Arusha Reunification Agreement is a roadmap document that should be used by the former members of the SPLM party to reconcile the ruling party and restores it to where it was before it fractured in December 2013.

Based on the Arusha Tripartite platform, majority of the politicians in Taban’s controversial camp, who are mostly young people without political background, might be left out.

Signatories of the agreement includes SPLM-IG, under President Kiir, SPLM-IO under the leadership of the country’s former first vice president Riek Machar, SPLM-FDs (Former Detainees) under the former Secretary General of the Party Pagan Amum.

The agreement provides for the return of key political figures of the party to their previous position which they held prior to December 2013 crisis – a clause that may put Taban  Deng Gai into much lower position.

Taban, however, is campaigning to be given Dr. Machar’s position, which in other words, will kill the Arusha agreement.

Another source told the Nyamilepedia that Kiir has refused to appoint Taban as the first deputy chairman of the SPLM owing to threats being uttered by key western powers like the United States pointing out that Taban was not informed of the decision until on Friday.

“President Kiir, the chairman of the SPLM has informed the first vice president of the decision that he will not appoint him even in the next SPLM National Convention due in 45 days because the west is threatening us. The decision was delivered to him on Friday. Until Friday, we do not know whether the FVP will not be appointed in June as the deputy chairman,” the source said.

By joining the SPLM, Taban’s group will no longer have power to appoint and replace politicians who are currently occupying the SPLM/A(IO) docket leaving a great deal of confusion among his supporters.

So far President Kiir has already removed Gen. Thoi Chany, who was occupying the most powerful position for Taban’s faction without consultation with Taban’s camp. No explanation was given either.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.

A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.

President Kiir in a controversial move appointed Taban to represent the SPLM-IO but Machar had already dismissed him before that. However, Taban and few members of the SPLM-IO claimed to have replaced Machar but he since then named his faction SPLM-IO For Peace. Last week, he dissolved his faction and joined the ruling SPLM-IG under

Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round of talks on 17th of May.

Representatives of the negotiating parties are currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after the mediation invited them for consultations.

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