South Sudan presidency spokesperson Ateny Wak Ateny said the opposition faction led by Vice President Riek Machar wants deployment of a third party force in Juba to get an upper hand to take over power forcefully.
The current political deadlock in Africa’s youngest nation seems far from ending as both parties continue to make uncompromising demands, a thing which has tightened the noose on the implementation of a peace agreement.
The endorsement of former opposition chief peace negotiator and the country’s mining minister Taban Deng Gai to replace his boss Riek Machar as vice president has sparked discontent in the opposition.
The endorsement of Gai by a faction in the opposition SPLM-IO followed 48 hour ultimatum to Machar to return to Juba dictated by President Salva Kiir.
The opposition say, the endorsement of Gai was a clandestine move by Kiir and his allies from the Dinka ethnic group to eliminate his rival from the peace arrangement signed after 20 months of civil war. The opposition accuses the Kiir faction for making close door deals with Gai to frustrate their efforts to the peace deal.
“What happened is a revelation that the mole that has been inside the SPLM/A-IO has come out clearly. This is the role Taban has been playing since December 2015, he has been betraying the SPLM-IO in whatever he has been doing,” Peter Adwok Nyaba Member of the Political Bureau of the SPLM-IO and South Sudan Minister of Higher Education told Aljazeera
Asked why the opposition refers to Gai’s appointment as a coup yet Machar has refused to return to Juba amid calls from his counterpart, Nyaba said “Machar didn’t get out of Juba not by his own accord. There was a military action against him by Salva Kiir and it has become clear that Taban was part of this conspiracy”
But Gai said he was only fill a vacuum, a thing Nyaba refuted.
“There is no vacuum Machar was forced out and he can only comeback to Juba upon the deployment of the third party intervention force”. He said what Taban was doing was to frustrated the peace deal and the move plays well in the hands of Kiir and the Jeng Council of elders.
However, South Sudan presidential spokesperson Ateny wak Ateny said the endorsement of Gai was done in the interest of the peace agreement and has nothing to do with the relationship between Kiir and Gai
“If the SPLM-IO has chosen Taban Deng Gai why would Peter Adwok call it unconstitutional or call it illegal when in actual fact the SPLM-IO should not be a business of one person called Riek Machar” he opined
Ateny said it was Machar who forced himself out of Juba even when president Kiir was committed to protecting him during the clashes. He said Machar’s decision to leave was a coveted plan to have a third party intervention because he has a weak army.
“He is looking for a third force so to have an upper hand to take over power by force” he said it was constitutional for other members of the opposition to replace him.
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In this political push and pull, it is the lives of the humblest South Sudan nationals who who need peace to fend own means of survival at stake. The United Nations reports that more than 8,300 refugees fled violence neighboring Uganda in a single day.
Former world bank economist and founder of Center for Strategic Analysis and Research Peter Abiar Ajak said the endorsement and defection of Gai demonstrates the internal power struggles in South Sudan’s Political opposition.
However, Riek Machar spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said “The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is intact”
With Files from Aljazeera