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The long awaited South Sudan Peace Agreement, that was expected to end a 3-year civil war, has once again hit another dead end as President Salva Kiir takes unexpected U-turn against his Peace Partner, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.

The president dismissed Dr. Riek Machar yesterday and replaced him with the sacked Minister of Mining, renegade Gen. Taban Deng Gai, the former Chief negotiator of SPLM/SPLA-IO.

According to John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, this new move by president Salva Kiir is a “political suicide” that brings the young nation “close to a full-scale civil war”

“This move represents another marker in the South Sudan’s slow motion political suicide. It unnecessarily brings South Sudan a step closer to full-scale war, shutting another door to dialogue and trampling on democratic processes espoused by both South Sudan’s government and opposition SPLA-IO.” Prendergast said.

Responding from Nairobi, Kenya, Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, stresses that the peace agreement has now collapsed, emphasizingg that the illegal appointment of Taban Deng does not have any popular grasspoots support in the movement and therefore it only amounts to declaring a full-scale civil war.

“Honourable Taban Deng Gai only has 5% support of the political leadership of the SPLM-IO and maybe, and just maybe 1% of support from the SPLA-IO army. So how will President Kiir implement the peace agreement with a defected person who does not control both the political and military wings of the SPLM/SPLA (IO)?” James Gatdet Dak said.

“We also have reliable information that President Kiir’s forces are on offensive today, July 26, 2016, to hunt down Dr. Riek Machar around Juba. However, our forces have the right to fight back in self-defence.” Dak continued.

According to Brian Adeba, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, President Kiir’s unilateral decision to remove Machar is seemingly influenced by the need to lure SPLM/SPLA elites to his side.

Brain believes that such decision is problematic because the pact of elites Kiir is luring to his side lack grassroots support and could only complicate the peace process.

“If President Kiir’s action to remove Machar and replace him with Taban Deng proves to be part of an elite pact without grassroots support, it could undermine the peace agreement. It is imperative that South Sudan’s leaders adhere to implementing the peace agreement and not allow inner-circle power plays to bring forth more violence and destabilization.” Brain said.

Machar’s spokesman reiterates that Kiir’s presidential decree has only proven to the whole world that he was behind the conspiracy that drove the First Vice President out of Juba two weeks ago.

“President Salva Kiir has proved to the whole world that he was behind the conspiracy implemented by Honourable Taban Deng Gai to illegally replace H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, from his positions. I believe President Kiir does not want to see peace achieved in South Sudan during his lifetime.” Gatdet said.

“By relieving his peace partner, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar who chairs the SPLM-IO party and commands the SPLA-IO army, and illegally appointing Honourable Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President in viiolation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), President Kiir means to destroy the peace agreement.” Gatdet continued.

Justifying the decision made by President Kiir, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the president had to accept the decision because it was internally decided by the SPLM/SPLA through its hierarchy, a claim that has been bitterly denied by members of SPLM/SPLA-IO political bureau.

The move was also justified by Ateny Wek Ateny, the press secretary to president Kiir, who claimed that the government had no choice but to accept any leader presented by the opposition to implement the peace agreement.

Mr. Kiir’s decision came a few days after the First Vice President, Machar, called on him to relieve Taban Deng Gai from the Ministry of Mining since he defected to SPLM-Kiir.

The two leaders signed an agreement more than 11 months ago, however, nothing other than Machar’s return to Juba has been implemented so far.

The region and AU have agreed to send a deterrent force to act as a buffer zone to prevent another round of fighting and to allow for peace implementation, however, Mr. Kiir and his inner circle have refused the regional force deployment in the country.


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