Only Taban Deng Gai is Agonized By Machar’s Long Awaited Return to South Sudan
June 17, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— With exception of Gen. Taban Deng Gai, who is riding on Machar’s ARCISS mandated seat, many key players in South Sudan Peace Process and reconciliations programs within the country and the region have unanimously invited Dr. Riek Machar Teny to be part and parcel of peace restoration and confidence building in the country.
Latest reports from Juba, South Sudan, and Kampala, Uganda reiterates that Machar’s return to the country is no longer an option but an obligation to rebuild confidence and social fabrics among the South Sudanese people.
According to the co-chair of South Sudan’s “National Dialogue” Committe, Hon. Angelo Beda, Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol are invited and will be contacted to attend the highly criticized National Dialogue.
“We, the leadership here will make arrangements to contact those who are outside to contact people like Dr. Riek Mahar and Dr. Lam Akol and then we will find ways and means so that they can respond to this call of the national dialogue,” said Angelo Beda.
“We are on the way to contact everybody including Dr. Lam …we are going to contact Riek Machar. But when and where, we are not going to tell you,” Beda continues.
In Uganda, President Museveni invited Dr. Machar two days ago to Entebbe to join the meeting of SPLM Reunification process, which is currently underway.
H.E Museveni reiterates that the SPLM Reunification is a part of confidence building and measures aimed at reviving the SPLM Reunification and also to revive the Implementation of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement(2015).
Museveni urged Machar to attend in person or send his representatives; however, the SPLM/A(IO) chairman downplayed the invitation saying that it came in the very last minute and therefore the IO mainstream will not attend the process.
Similar invitations were also extended to Dr. Machar during the recent IGAD Extraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, stating that the “estranged” group will be consulted ahead of the forum to be held to revitalize the August Peace Agreement.
Both the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission(JMEC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) have witnessed rapid escalation of war, formation of new rebel groups, huge displacement of civil population, deteriorating economy, increased hostilities against humanitarian aid workers, increase in hunger and starvation; and therefore concluded that all the signatories and other stakeholders of the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan(ARCISS) must be involved through a High Level Revitalization Forum to review the Peace Agreement and spell a reasonable timeline for amicable implementation of the peace agreement.
These decisions are made against the wills of one man and that is the current First Vice President, Mr. Taban Deng Gai, who sharply criticizes Machar’s return to the country.
On Monday, during the IGAD Summit in Addis Ababa, Gai presented his long list of grievances to the regional bloc and strongly stressed that Machar should never be part of the peace process.
Although Gai claimed in July 2016 that he would step down for Machar if he returns, he changed his mind when Machar reached Congo and now bows that the latter should never return to South Sudan unless only to contest in an election when that times comes.
Taban has made numerous accusations against his former boss, whom he now sees as his sworn enemy, that his return could intensify the conflict and fit tribes against tribes.
Gai made simiilar accussation through a letter to the United Nations Security Council and warned the world body to terminate all communications with Dr. Machar.
In both cases, Taban has been ignored and his grievances were not addressed.
Why is Taban Bitter About Machar’s Returns
Many observers, who have closely monitored South Sudan’s conflict, believe that Taban is deeply distressed by Dr. Riek Machar’s return not for the reasons he claims but for his own political survival in South Sudan’s political arena.
Gen. Taban has been accused by many officials of SPLM/A on both sides for instigating the December 2013 and July 2016 conflicts.
In 2013 Taban felt out with President Salva Kiir, who sacked and replaced him with his sworn enemy, Gen. Joseph Nguen Manytuel, forcing him to flee with Machar in December 2013 when fighting erupted in Juba; however, in 2016 Taban felt out with Machar after he failed to secure the Ministry of Petroleum in the Transitional Government of National Unity.
After Machar fled the capital in July 2016 with the rest of IO leadership, following a heavy fighting that killed Machar’s bodyguards, Taban was installed in Machar’s position despite presence of Gen. Alfred Lado Gore who was more senior than him.
When he took power in July 2016, Taban begin to deeply criticize Machar’s leadership and bullied him on everything including the death of his son and his confinement in South Africa.
Taban personalized the conflict and hoped that Machar would be killed or remained “packed like a car without wheels” in exile; however, the SPLM/A(IO) remained united behind Dr. Machar and calls for nothing less than the return of their chairman and commander-in-chief.
Being on a weaker position, Taban uses government avenues to further his cause to destroy Dr. Machar and his group. This aligns Taban’s interests with that of his new boss, Salva Kiir.
To demonstrate good gesture and cooperation, Taban compromised major components of the peace agreement, especially the security arrangement articles and two army provision. In addition, Taban is fighting for influence within his own Nuer community though that remains a challenge.
To return good will gestures, President Kiir fired or isolated many officials who have grudges with Taban forcing some of them to defect or form new rebellions.
These stances have since drawn Taban closer to President Salva Kiir and widen the gap between him and Machar, who he has “betrayed” a few times in the past struggles.
According to many analysts like Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, Taban is weighing his last war to survive.