South Sudan: 'Sacking of Machar is sowing seed of new suffering in South Sudan'

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - South Sudan's opposition has been split down the middle with the appointment by President Salva Kiir of Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President to replace Riek Machar, who has fled the capital, Juba, South Sudan observers have said.

Machar, a bitter rival of Kiir, who returned to Juba only last April to take up his post under a peace agreement, fled once again following several days of fighting that erupted on 7 July and in which hundreds of people were killed and thousands displaced.

The observers say the appointment of Deng Gai has not only violated the August 2015 agreement that reconciled him with the armed opposition, but is also sowing the seed of new suffering in the troubled country and will take the current conflict to another level.

“This illegal action by President Salva Kiir to dismiss his peace partner, Dr. Rick Machar, who chairs the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (In Opposition) SPLM (IO) party and commands its army, the Sudan People's Army (In Opposition) SPLA (IO), does not only violate the August 2015 peace agreement, but is also a (long time) planned conspiracy to put the last nail in the coffin of the peace agreement itself,” James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesperson said.

But President Kiir’s argument is that Machar failed to return to Juba when a ceasefire they both called for in the fighting ended the bloodshed.

President Kiir's allies also argue that the agreement he signed, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), with Machar early this year, gives the president the right to appoint a replacement when there is "a vacancy".

A presidential decree announced on Monday said Deng Gai, Minister of Mines, replaces Machar, effectively shutting the door to his bitter rival.

According to the South Sudan-based, Eye-Radio, a church radio broadcasting from Juba, Machar failed to beat a 48-hour ultimatum to return to Juba to continue to implement the 2015 peace agreement.

Machar says he fled Juba for his personal safety and lack of guarantees that any agreement reached would not be violated anew.

Deng Gai is a member of the opposition along with Machar. Furthermore, both men hail from the same Nuer ethnic group in South Sudan.

The Nuer and the Dinka, President Kiir’s ethnic group, are the largest groups, population wise, in South Sudan. The rivalry between the two, over cattle and land ownership, has been going on for centuries.

Meanwhile, the UN has warned of food scarcity in South Sudan, while its northern neighbour, Sudan, has started complaining that over one million South Sudanese have already entered Sudan since 2013 and that more are coming after the recent developments there. South Sudan broke away from Sudan five years ago this month.

“This is all predicted… those who follow the developments in South Sudan know that this is the outcome of five years of suppressed differences between the two men... what happens now is Kiir has replaced one (Dr Machar) in the equation difference with another (Taban Deng Gai),” Muhammad Lateef, an analyst in Sudan.

He said it was all predicted because “you cannot give the first vice-president an ultimatum to come back to work in two days or lose his job”. So the uncertainty continues.
-0- PANA MO/MA 26July2016

26 july 2016 11:28:08

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