Riek Machar removed as South Sudan vice-president

South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Monday night removed First Vice-President Dr Riek Machar from office, replacing him with Mining Minister, Taban Deng Gai, in a move that virtually spells doom for the already fragile peace accord.

This happened after the lapse of a 48-hour ultimatum issued by President Kiir for Dr Machar to return to the capital, from where he fled on July 11 following the outbreak of a four-day spate of political violence.

On Saturday, a group of officials from Mr Machar’s SPLM-IO nominated Mr Deng — the former lead negotiator for the rebels — as the acting First Vice President of South Sudan.

They claim that because Dr Machar is not in Juba, someone needs to implement the peace deal.

However, sources told The EastAfrican that the former rebel ministers currently holed in their hotel in Juba claimed to have voted to replace Dr Machar with Mr Gai under duress because they have been unable to leave the capital and that their lives are threatened.

John Prendergast, Director of the Enough Project, a research organisation, said that the move represents another marker in 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,” he said.

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by Fred Oluoch

Photo Credits: AFP PHOTO | Zacharias Abubeker