Deng Gai replaces Machar as Vice President
The apparent disarray in South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity comes full circle Tuesday when former rebel leader and First Vice President Riek Machar is formally replaced by his onetime chief peace negotiator, General Taban Deng Gai.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced last week that he had fired Machar and replaced him with Deng. Machar went into hiding following clashes between the two forces earlier this month that left hundreds of people dead.
Deng will be sworn in Tuesday as first vice president. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the former secretary for foreign affairs of the SPLM-in opposition, said Taban Deng has the support of the entire SPLM in opposition.
“Taban Deng Gai is known to the SPLMSPLA-IO. He has been the chief negotiator; he was the one who negotiated this agreement in Addis Ababa. He is a general in the army. He also participated in the war of liberation since 1983. So he has the support of the army and also the support of the party, the SPLA-IO, and he has a lot of support from South Sudanese,” he said.
Taban Deng Gai, then-chief negotiator of the rebel group known as SPLA-IO, addresses a news conference after arriving in South Sudan’s capital Juba.