By KEVIN J. KELLEY, New York, TheEastAfrican, AUG/27/2016, SSN;
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) said on Friday that it is up to the South Sudanese government to decide whether Dr Riek Machar should be reinstated as the country’s first vice president.
That decision would be “naturally accommodated by Igad,” Sharon Kuku, a spokeswoman for the eight-nation grouping of East African states, said in an email message.
Ms Kuku noted that Taban Deng Gai, appointed by President Salva Kiir as Dr Machar’s replacement, had pledged at Igad’s August 5 summit to abide by the South Sudan government’s decision on the first vice presidency.
“Igad did not stop Gen Deng from attending the summit nor speaking for the South Sudan government,” Ms Kuku pointed out.
Friday’s comment by Igad follows the group’s call on August 5 for Machar to be reinstalled as first vice president.
His removal was not consistent with the terms of last year’s peace agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties, Igad said three weeks ago.
In the interim, however, the United States had expressed its acceptance of Machar’s replacement by Mr Deng.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in Nairobi on August 22 that “it’s quite clear that legally, under the agreement, there is allowance for the replacement, in a transition of personnel, and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice president.”
The US position was reaffirmed on Thursday by State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau.
“The peace agreement contains procedures and requirements that govern transitions and changes within the transitional government,” Ms Trudeau said at a press briefing in Washington.
“Specifically, the agreement provides the top leadership of the armed opposition the power to nominate a new first vice president if that position is vacant.”
A faction of the armed opposition declared last month that it had chosen Mr Deng to replace Machar, who was then in hiding inside South Sudan following bloody clashes in Juba.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir subsequently named Mr Deng as first vice president.
Dr Machar’s followers charged that the moves violated last year’s peace agreement and vowed to oppose Mr Deng’s appointment.
State Department spokeswoman Trudeau on Thursday repeated US calls for an end to armed conflict in South Sudan.
“We do expect the transitional government and all parties, including all leaders of the opposition in South Sudan, to take every step possible to avoid fighting and to reach a peaceful resolution of their differences,” she said.
“The way forward is not through violence or military action but through implementation of the agreement and through peaceful resolution of differences.”
South Sudan’s future uncertain as Machar plans pull back from peace deal
By: FRED OLUOCH, THEEASTAFRICAN, AUG/25/2016, SSN
SUMMARY: Dr Machar’s allies say he planned a review of the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) involvement in the transition government once he recovered from injuries sustained last month.
Sources close to him —who arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday afternoon from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for treatment — told The EastAfrican that the rebel leader was consulting Igad before making his decision known.;
Former first vice president of South Sudan, Dr Riek Machar has thrown prospects of stability in the country into further uncertainty after his allies said they were rethinking their role under the August 2015 peace agreement.
The allies said Dr Machar planned a review of the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) involvement in the transition government once he recovered from injuries sustained last month.
Sources close to Dr Machar — who arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday afternoon from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for treatment — told The EastAfrican that the rebel leader was consulting Igad before making his decision known.
SPLM-IO representative in Kenya, Lam Jok, said that recent attacks by President Salva Kiir’s forces demanded a fresh approach to the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.
“Since July 8, our mission was to secure the life of our leader but now that he is safe, we are diplomatically and politically engaging Igad on the way forward because President Kiir has killed the agreement by attacking our official cantonment areas and changing the leadership structure contrary to the agreement,” said Mr Jok.
He continued, “What we know is that the current status quo is not acceptable because the president and the new first vice-president, Taban Deng Gai, have defied the agreement which the region worked very hard to realise.”
The presence of Dr Machar in Khartoum is likely to raise concerns in Juba, especially after the new first vice-president, Mr Gai, held discussions with the Sudan leadership over outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border demarcation and oil exportation.
READ: South Sudan new VP holds talks in first Khartoum visit
But in a statement to the Sudan News Agency (Suna), Sudan’s Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Osman said Khartoum has simply received Dr Machar for medical treatment since he arrived in a critical condition and needed immediate care.
”The health condition of Dr Riek Machar is now stable and he will stay in the country under full medical supervision until he leaves the country for a destination of his choice to complete his medical treatment” the statement read in a part. Mr Osman said that Khartoum has notified the government of South Sudan about Dr Machar’s arrival.
Mr Jok confirmed that Dr Machar needed specialised treatment because of swollen legs after walking for 200km under aerial bombardment at an advanced age.
The recent Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) summit had declared the replacement of Dr Machar as illegal and against the agreement and approved the deployment of 4,000 regional protection force in Juba.
READ: Envoy tells off Igad after Kerry’s remarks on Juba leadership changes
With Khartoum likely to face pressure from Juba to let go of Dr Machar, there are ongoing consultations on his next destination since earlier preference for Addis Ababa could compromise the neutrality of Ethiopia that is supposed to provide the bulk of the regional protection force. Kenya and Rwanda are also expected to provide troops to act as a buffer in Juba.