Category Archives: Central Africa

South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis: wildlife is also in the firing line

The Conversation

July 27, 2016 8.38pm SAST

South Sudan’s elephant population plummeted from 80,000 in the late 1960s to less than 5,000 now. Shutterstock

The latest fighting in Juba, South Sudan, between government forces known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the opposition has left hundreds dead. It also displaced tens of thousands from their homes, leaving them without any means of subsistence.

The latest flare-up between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition leader Riek Machar follows a civil war that lasted two years. The civil war cost the lives of an estimated 50,000 people and resulted in the displacement of 2.3 million.

The humanitarian crisis is, and should always be, of paramount importance. But South Sudan’s wildlife and conservation programmes are also in severe crisis as a result of the fighting. The conflict has made weapons widely available and created opportunities for poaching. The lack of food in rural areas and displacement further exacerbates this, with well-armed poachers threatening the lives of rangers and wildlife.

South Sudan has a rich and varied fauna, with elephants, lions, leopards, cheetah, wild dogs and a great variety of antelopes. This includes the rare tiang and huge herds of white-eared kob, numbering more than 800,000. But conservation suffered hugely during the wars of liberation from Sudan – from 1956 to 1972, and 1984 to 2005. Elephants were killed for their ivory by the Sudanese army, its irregular militias, which became known as the Janjaweed, and the liberation movement, notably the SPLA.

Ivory was poached and exported via military networks through Khartoum and by the SPLA through Ethiopia or Uganda. The underfunded and poorly armed park wardens and rangers could not compete with the firepower of the army, militias and rebels, or with the substantial poaching by displaced or destitute civilians. South Sudan’s elephant population plummeted from 80,000 in the late 1960s to about 10,000 in 2000 and less than 5,000 now.

South Sudan has seven national parks and 16 other reserves or protected areas that have a variety of wetland, Sudd swamp, savannah and forest habitats. National parks and reserves account for 15% of the national land area. Despite a policy of wildlife and habitat protection proclaimed by the South Sudan government after the formation of the new state in 2011, following its secession from Sudan, the frequent communal conflicts and then the two years of civil war have prevented realistic conservation management. It has led to the deaths of several rangers at the hands of the SPLA or rebel groups.

Poaching is on the increase

Earlier this year, before the recent outbreak of fighting in Juba, it was reported that ivory poaching was continuing to increase in South Sudan.

Seventeen elephants were killed in a single incident in Warrap State in February. This followed the killing of 15 in Boma National Park the previous month.

More recently, a report by the independent Radio Tamazuj said that there was evidence of increased poaching activity at Lantoto National Park. The carcasses of 10 elephants were discovered and there was a substantial increase in the poaching of giraffes and zebras for meat and skins.

There has been a substantial increase in the poaching of zebras for meat and skins. Shutterstock

The chief game warden at the park, Colonel Natalino Lasuba, said that despite the arrest of several poachers, poaching there was on the rise. There is also evidence that many of the antelope herds and elephants are migrating out of the park and across the border into Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An animal exodus like this is usually the result of human encroachment or hunting, unless there has been a drought or loss of habitat.

But the animals are not migrating into safety. Garamba has serious, long-term poaching problems. SPLA soldiers, the Sudanese Janjaweed, Congolese rebels and professional poachers from Chad and Sudan all kill elephants for ivory and game for meat and hides. Over the past year, eight rangers and three Congolese army personnel were killed by heavily armed poachers in Garamba.

The growth in poaching is the result of a combination of factors:

  • the wide availability of automatic weapons from the 1984 to 2005 liberation war against Sudan and the recent civil war;
  • the scarcity of resources to provide for law enforcement and park rangers;
  • the destruction of conservation infrastructure;
  • severe hunger and a lack of viable means to earn a living;
  • the need to feed armies and militias; and
  • the use of ivory to help fund conflict or enrich political and military elites.

It’s not looking promising

Had it not been for the conflict, Garamba Park, along with Boma National Park in eastern South Sudan, could have been the focus of conservation efforts. Conserving habitats and species would, in turn, have developed a wildlife tourism industry that could bring in hard currency. Unfortunately, the civil war between Kiir and Machar’s forces has waylaid those plans.

Illegal gold mining in some national parks or reserves has also brought about human-wildlife conflict and significant growth in the bushmeat trade.

Paul Elkan, Director of the World Conservation Society programme in South Sudan, is also concerned about the aftermath of the conflict.

Ceasefires, when militias and rival forces are demobilised or inactive, could become the riskiest time for wildlife. With weapons but no fighting to carry out, poaching is a good option to make some quick money.

Animals in major decline

Before the start of the 1984 war for liberation from Sudan, South Sudan had a population of about 80,000 elephants. In 2011, the Wildlife Conservation Society and South Sudanese government estimated the country’s elephant population to be about 5,000 strong. Today, half of that elephant population has disappeared, either through poaching or migration in search of safe havens.

The remaining elephants, and much of the other valuable wildlife species like the tiang, kob, giraffes and zebra, have their best chance of survival in the national parks and reserves. But, as with Lantoto, most of the protected areas have been plagued by conflict-related poaching.

The Boma National Park in Jonglei State, for example, is one of the most important savannah ecosystems in the region. But fighting in mid-2013 between government forces and the Murle rebel group led by David Yau Yau led to the destruction of park infrastructure, the killing of three wildlife rangers and the disruption of conservation and wildlife protection programmes. Park officials, including Park Warden Kolo Pino, were killed by South Sudanese armed forces seeking to drive out Yau Yau’s fighters. Elephants in the park that had been fitted with radio collars for a conservation programme were also killed by poachers.

Ending the war and addressing a worsening humanitarian crisis is clearly a priority for South Sudan. But solutions seem as far away as ever.

In terms of environmental protection, the aligning of conflict resolution, economic reconstruction and conservation policies are vital. It is crucial to protect wildlife and the wilderness, but to do it in a way that benefits people. Encouraging them to value wildlife and see it as a sustainable asset rather than a short-term answer to a pressing need will be critical to the country’s conservation future.

South Sudan -UN warns over sacking of Machar as VP

Sudan Tribune

July 26, 2016 (NEW YORK) – The United Nations (UN) has warned the leadership of the war-ravaged South Sudan over its recent decision to replace Riek Machar, with Taban Deng Gai, as First Vice President, saying this was a violation to the peace agreement.

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Ban Ki-moon (Photo UN)

Machar, who has continued to command the political and military leaderships of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement SPLM-IO, was decreed out by President Salva Kiir and replaced with Gai.

Gai said he was endorsed by the SPLM-IO leadership currently in Juba. But this was dismissed by Machar’s officials because only five members of the leadership reportedly endorsed him in violation of the peace agreement.

“Any political appointments need to be consistent with the provisions outlined in the peace agreement,” said Farhan Haq, UN’s spokesperson at a briefing to reporters in New York on Tuesday.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which mediated the peace agreement signed in August 2015, has not publicly reacted to the events in Juba, owing to more planned measures against the leadership in South Sudan, observers said.

“We call on all parties to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained and that any divisions within the opposition or between the parties be dealt with peacefully through dialogue,” UN spokesperson Haq added.

Taban Deng Gai, was sworn in on Tuesday as First Vice President, and vowed to fully cooperate with president Kiir including scrapping many provisions in the peace deal.


Gai declared his willingness to cancel one of the major provisions in the peace deal, which he himself negotiated for two years, Gai said there is no need for two armies in one country and told the President that the SPLA-IO army will immediately be reintegrated into President Kiir’s army, the SPLA.

This would imply that the security arrangements needed for at least 18 months and implementation of the security sector reform would no longer be needed to reunify the two armies as required by the peace agreement.

However, officials of the opposition faction led by Machar dismissed Gai’s assertions, saying he said it because he knew he had no army to stay separate. They dismissed Gai’s comment as coming from someone who has no say over the SPLA-IO army.

The top leadership of the SPLA-IO including its chief of general staff, General Simon Gatwech Daul, and his deputies are currently with Machar and have confirmed firm support behind him.

Also, SPLM-IO’s governor of Unity state, General Kuol Ruai and SPLA-IO’s military sector commander in Gai’s home state of Unity state, General Simon Maguek, have come out with statements, dismissing Gai’s statements that he was in contact with the commanders, saying Gai had no army or any support in the SPLA-IO forces.


Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has called on South Sudan’s rival parties to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained and that any divisions within the opposition, or between the parties are dealt with peacefully through dialogue.

The UN, a spokesperson said, will continue working with the Transitional Government of National Unity and all stakeholders in support of the implementation of the peace agreement for the benefit of South Sudanese, as mandated by the Security Council.

The changes, analysts say, contravenes the peace agreement signed by both Kiir and Machar.


Congo Republic – Congo opposition leader jailed for two years


Congo opposition leader gets two years for inciting disorder

Congo Republic opposition leader Paulin Makaya was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for his role in protests against a referendum proposing a third term for President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the High Court of Brazzaville ruled.

Makaya was charged on four counts including “incitement to disturb public order” during a demonstration on October 20 when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the contitutional referendum.

Nguesso has ruled Congo for all but five years since 1979, and was re-elected in March after the referendum passed.

Makaya has denied the charges and his lawyer Eric Ibouanga said he plans to lodge an appeal.

“The judgement brought by the correctional chamber is unjust and illegal,” Ibouanga said.

Four people were killed at the march in October, when security forces opened fire after a crowd refused to disperse. Residents said the violence in Brazzaville was the worst since Nguesso retook power in 1997 at the end of a brief civil war.

Makaya, 49, has already been detained for 8 months following his arrest. In addition to his sentence, he was charged a 2.5 million CFA franc (3,189 pounds) fine.

Amnesty International had previously condemned his arrest on the grounds of freedom of expression and said that his pre-trial detention surpassed the four-month limit of Congolese law.

(Reporting by Christian Elion; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Edward McAllister and Angus MacSwan)

South Sudan – SPLM-IO rejects “illegal” Machar dismissal

Sudan Tribune

July 26, 2016 (JUBA) – In response to the Monday development in South Sudan in which President Salva Kiir issued a republican decree relieving his peace partner, First Vice President, Riek Machar, opposition’s officials said the “illegal” action was a long time planned conspiracy to destroy the August 2015 peace agreement signed by the two top factional leaders.

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Riek Machar, left, first vice president of the Republic of South Sudan, and Salva Kiir, the president, at the first meeting of the new transitional coalition government in Juba, South Sudan, in April, 2016 (Jason Patinkin/AP)

Machar’s spokesperson said the situation had been suspected for a long time only that his leadership thought President Kiir and Taban Deng Gai, the newly appointed First Vice President, were going to abandon their conspiracy for the sake of peace in the country.

“This illegal action by President Salva Kiir to dismiss his peace partner, Dr. Riek Machar, who chairs the SPLM (IO) party and commands its army, the SPLA (IO), does not only violate the August 2015 peace agreement, but is also a long time planned conspiracy to put the last nail on the coffin of the peace agreement itself,” James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesperson, told Sudan Tribune on Monday evening in response to the event.

He said since February 2016, the plan came to surface while Machar was still in Pagak, his headquarters before returning to Juba in April, adding that President Kiir with the Jieng [Dinka] Council of Elders (JCE), a tribal group from President Kiir’s ethnic Dinka, designed this plot to destroy the peace deal using Taban Deng Gai.

Dak said he had to cover up for Taban Deng when this accusation came out, in order not to expose him at the time, with the hope that he was going to change and not allow himself to be used by President Kiir and JCE to return the country to war.

“I had to cover up for Honourable Taban Deng Gai. I had to dismiss his suspected conspiracy as baseless in the media many times because I did not want him exposed. I thought he was going to change,” he added.

He said President Kiir and JCE are implementing their “reservations” in the agreement using Gai and that the peace agreement is currently in “very serious danger.”

Dak said the newly appointed First Vice President does not command the opposition army, adding that they disliked him and wanted him removed long time ago, but Machar could not act. He also said over 95% of the political leadership of the SPLM-IO are with Machar.

The opposition’s spokesperson added that President Kiir was aware of the fact that Gai is never popular in the SPLM-IO political and military establishments, but liked his unpopularity so that the peace agreement can die.


Dak also accused President Kiir’s forces of carrying out offensive on Monday as he was appointing Gai to hunt down Machar around Juba with the aim to kill him.

“As we speak, thousands of President Salva Kiir’s forces are on the move towards the areas where they suspected Dr. Riek Machar to be situated. Also their helicopter gunships have been bombing randomly in the forests, trying to locate him. Their aim is to kill him so that he never returns to Juba,” he said.

“But this will never happen. Dr. Riek Machar will someday return to Juba whether they like it or not, whether they will be there in Juba to receive him or not,” Dak added.

The opposition’s spokesman also accused some members of IGAD of being behind the President Kiir’s conspiracy to destroy the peace agreement using the “illegal” and “forced” replacement of transitional leadership of the government and the party.

He said even the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which is supposed to monitor and safeguard the peace agreement has been “dumb founded” and could not know what to do.

He said Machar did not flee Juba out of his own will but was forced out after he nearly got killed at J1 palace by President Kiir’s forces, adding that only that they could not get chance to murder him inside the palace as his close bodyguards would have also killed president Kiir.

Machar, he said, due to the incidents at the palace and the attack on his base where his house was also bombed, was simply asking for a third party force to be deployed in Juba to guarantee his safety so that he would return to Juba.

“What Dr. Machar was simply asking was for the deployment of a third party force before he would return to Juba. This is what IGAD and AU have also endorsed. So why replace him with the unconvincing pretext that he was away from Juba when all knew why he has been away from Juba?” he asked.

He also said the agreement did not allow for temporary appointment of an acting First Vice President by the President, but instead Machar should have been the one to delegate one of his officials to act if need be.

Dak said he believed that some players in the region and in the international community have taken part in the conspiracy to make South Sudan ungovernable by supporting President Kiir’s illegal actions so that the situation can be used as a pretext for the country to be taken over by the United Nations under a trusteeship.

He said under the current situation where SPLM-IO and SPLA-IO are no longer part of the peace agreement, coupled with the ongoing military offensive by President Kiir’s forces, it would be difficult for Machar to return to Juba any time soon.

He said President Kiir’s faction and their ally led by Taban Deng Gai have been busy trying to track Machar down by monitoring phone conversations and its GPS and bombing his suspected locations around Juba.

It is the second time that Machar has been forced out of Juba by President Kiir’s forces, fleeing for his life. He also fled Juba on 15 December 2013 and his house was bombed.


South Sudan – SPLM-IO says leadership is intact and calls on Kiir to respect agreement

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan's FVP designate Riek Machar, arrives in his General Headquarters, Pagak. He was received by SPLA-IO's Chief of General Staff, 1st Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, 12 April, 2016 (courtesy photo of SPLM-IO)

July 24, 2016 (JUBA) – The leadership of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), led by First Vice President, Riek Machar, said their party and its leadership had remained intact despite recent “illegal” attempt by outsiders to snatch and claim it.

“The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is intact. The illegal attempt by outsiders to claim it has been aborted,” said James Gatdet Dak, Machar spokesperson.

“What happened in Juba in a hotel on July 23, 2016, organized by a dismissed member, Honourable Taban Deng Gai, was an act of terrorism, during which three senior officials of our party were held hostage in their Crown Hotel and were intimidated and forced against their will to nominate him as acting First Vice President of the Transitional Government of National Unity and Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLM (IO), or else President Salva Kiir’s security operatives would have dealt with them,” he added.

He said their party’s secretary general, Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol, was severely beaten a week before in the hotel when his position was known to have been against activities of Gai, adding this has made the SPLM-IO ministers and officials remaining in Juba to fear for their lives.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, a supporter of Taban Deng Gai, announced on Saturday that President Kiir was going to appoint Gai on that Saturday as acting First Vice President and take oath of office on Sunday and start his official work on Monday.

Machar’s spokesperson, Dak, said President Kiir has made a wise decision by not acting to also illegally appoint Taban Deng Gai as acting First Vice President to replace his recognized peace partner, Riek Machar, saying appointing Gai would have shown to the world that President Kiir meant to destroy the peace agreement and was part of the conspiracy which Gai was used to implement.

He said President Kiir should further act in accordance with the request from his first deputy to relieve Taban Deng Gai for his position as minister of Mining, saying the agreement has provided powers to the First Vice President to recommend to the President to replace any of his ministers he nominated to the transitional government.

Dak argued that as the head of state whose responsibility is to protect institutions and abide by the peace agreement, President Kiir should not be trapped into condemnation by allowing for illegal and fraudulent replacement of his first deputy, as this would destroy the peace deal.

“I believe that if President Salva Kiir respects institutions which his government has created as well as the transitional leadership of the transitional government and wants the peace agreement to be implemented without hiccups, he should relieve Honourable Taban Deng Gai as requested by the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar,” he added.

He seriously condemned the process carried out at Crown Hotel in Juba to “fraudulently” replace Machar, saying the process only amounted to “a hotel good time party by random invitees” and not an institutional process of the SPLM/SPLA (IO).

The opposition leader’s spokesman narrated that Gai was dismissed from the party by his chairman a day before forging the meeting, and therefore was no longer a member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) as he already defected to President Kiir’s faction by his own actions.

He also argued that even if Gai were to remain a member of the party, there was no quorum of the leaderships of the political bureau or the national liberation council in Juba to convene a meeting, adding that Gai got only one member willingly and forced other three senior officials out of 23 members of the political bureau.

Over 90 percent of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) leadership bodies, he said, have been dispersed by the recent fighting, and are either with Machar in the bush, or in United Nations camps in Juba, or in the other parts of the country, or in the neighbouring countries.

He further explained that the peace agreement has not also provided for a temporary replacement of the First Vice President or the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA.

“The peace agreement has instead given powers to the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, to delegate one of his ministers to temporarily act on his behalf in his absence if need be. It is like when the vice president acts when the president is absent. This does not need replacement, or appointment or taking oath of office in order to temporarily act. We also have our deputy chairman, General Alfred Ladu Gore, who is in Juba,” he added.

A senior official who is loyal to President Salva Kiir told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the “smartest way” President Kiir should behave now is by not appointing Taban Deng Gai to replace Riek Machar as First Vice President so that he distanced himself from the internal power struggle within the SPLM-IO and to avoid being condemned by the international community for either being behind the conspiracy or supporting Taban Deng Gai to destroy the peace agreement.

He said the President is likely relieve Gai from his post as Minister of Mining in show of acting as the head of state who respects the agreement and decisions made by his first deputy who is mandated by the peace agreement to replace his party’s ministers in the cabinet.

“President Kiir himself said he saved Machar at the palace during the fighting two weeks ago. This has clearly indicated that he wants to continue to work with him. He should continue to show this to the world by maintaining him as his first deputy, otherwise if he acts contrary to this the reading will be different,” the official said.

Machar fled the capital two weeks ago and said he relocated to outside of Juba due to fear for his safety and to avoid further clashes between his forces and those loyal to President Kiir after four days of fighting in Juba.

He said he will return to Juba immediately after a third party force is deployed in the capital to separate rival forces and provide security and protection for the leadership and the citizens exposed to danger.


South Sudan – Museveni urges Kiir to accept regional force

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has advised his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, to not reject deployment of additional regional third party force in Juba, but to instead focus on negotiating the level of their mandate as they deploy in the country.

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President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement on August 26, 2015 (Photo AFP /Charles Lomodong)

Museveni said failure to comply with the African Union’s endorsed deployment of the troops to Juba will complicate the matter and result to further tougher measures which can be taken against the country and its leadership, cautioning President Kiir not to fall into “traps of western countries.”

This came in a meeting on Saturday in Kampala between President Kiir and President Museveni.

President Museveni, according to a presidential source who accompanied President Kiir to Kampala, said he made the remarks during their discussions on regional peace and security, particularly the proposed deployment of additional foreign troops in South Sudan.

This week, President Kiir vowed to not allow even a “single foreign soldier” to deploy in South Sudan in his reaction to the AU’s resolution to deploy a third party force to separate rival forces loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to his first deputy, Riek Machar. The government also organized demonstrations in Juba and in some states to reject the deployment of additional foreign forces with senior officials vowing to fight them should they deploy.

The force would also provide protection to the South Sudanese leadership, essential government infrastructures including the Juba airport as well as citizens at risk of violence in the capital.

There were no details of the issues the two leaders have discussed and resolved, as there was no official statement issued by the office of South Sudan president before and after the return from Uganda.

However, the high level presidential source told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that president Kiir travelled to Uganda to seek advice with president Museveni, who remains the only ally in the region.

President Museveni’s influence in the region, he said, has however been overshadowed by an unanimous regional consensus to dispatch additional foreign troops to shore up the fighting and protection capacity of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the country.

Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda are some among the countries in the region backing up the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries and African Union (AU), asking countries in the region to contribute and dispatch additional troops with a stronger mandate to protect civilians at risk or exposed to an extreme violence and to act as buffer for rival armed groups in the country.

“President Kiir went to Uganda at the invitation of president Museveni over regional matters. He advised him not to accept provocations and fall into the traps of western countries. The western governments are desperately looking for an excuse to go to the country and that the president should be extra careful,” he quoted the advice President Museveni had given to President Kiir.

“He advised him to negotiate the mandate of the regional force instead of an outright rejection. So president Kiir was basically going to seek audience with president Museveni and to share ideas on the regional intervention force and how this situation could be handled,” he told Sudan Tribune.

Meanwhile, president Museveni in his Facebook page released after the meeting with president Kiir on Saturday confirmed holding talks on regional matters but did not divulge into the details of the discussions.

“I have today held talks with my South Sudan counterpart, His Excellency Salva Kiir, at State House, Entebbe. We focused on regional issues but importantly how to ensure peace and stability returns to South Sudan,” said president Museveni, according to a post on his Facebook page.

The African Union has endorsed the deployment of the forces, saying the troops deployment will take place whether President Kiir liked it or not.

Opposition party led by Riek Machar also supported the deployment of the forces, saying their leader, Machar, will immediately return to Juba from his hiding place once the troops are on the ground to ensure his safety.

Machar fled the capital on 11 July after four days of clashes between his small number of troops and forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. His officials said he is still around Juba and will return any time soon.


South Sudan Machar fires Taban Deng

Sudan Tribune

July 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, has dismissed Taban Deng Gai from the party of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), accusing him of having defected to President Salva Kiir’s faction.

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SPLM-IO Chief Negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, speaking to journalists at Juba airport upon his return from Pagak with his team, 22 January 2016 (ST Photo)

Machar also asked President Kiir to relieve Gai from his position as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), to which he nominated him.

“In exercise of my powers, as First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, as per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Article 6, I hereby withdraw and recall Gen. Taban Deng Gai as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity as from today, 22nd of July, 2016,” partly reads the letter addressed to President Salva Kiir and copied to JMEC and IGAD.

“I am asking Your Excellency to relieve him with immediate effect,” Machar said in the letter extended to the media.

He told the President that he will nominate Gai’s replacement as soon as he returns to Juba once the security arrangement is put in place by a third party force as per the Communique of the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi, on 11 July 2016.

Machar, who is also the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA-IO), also relieved Gai from his party positions and dismissed him from the membership of the SPLM-IO.

“This is to declare to all members of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that Taban Deng Gai has defected to the SPLM-IG under President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” he further explained.

He said he had “therefore relieved him from his positions as member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) Political Bureau and as Chairman of the National Committee for Reconciliation and Healing.”

“By this, Taban Deng Gai is hereby declared dismissed and no more a member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO),” he added.

Gai, who was chief negotiator for the opposition faction until April this year, has been going publicly against the position of the SPLM-IO’s leadership, including the deployment of a third party force, despite his boss’ declaration that the leadership welcomed the regional troops’ deployment.

The minister who belonged to the SPLM-IO has instead been supporting President Kiir’s arguments against his leader.

He has been also reportedly campaigning to replace his chairman in his position as First Vice President in the Republic of South Sudan, accusing him of staying away from Juba.

Machar who fled the capital and relocated his base outside Juba due to recent clashes between his forces and the forces loyal to President Kiir, said he is willing to return to the capital as soon as a third party force is deployed to separate their rival forces.



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