South Sudanese former First Vice President, Riek Machar, has said his replacement with his ex-official, Taban Deng Gai, is “illegal” and reaffirmed his call for a third party force to be deployed in the national capital, Juba.
He also said he is still the First Vice President per the peace agreement and only awaiting deployment of a third force in Juba in order to come back to his office.
In his first interview with Aljazeera TV on Wednesday from his location “around Juba”, Machar said President Salva Kiir had no power to appoint a replacement if the President were to abide by the peace agreement signed in August last year to end 21 months of civil war.
He said he would be the one to nominate a replacement and recommend it to President Kiir from his faction.
“First of all, I am still the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan…By the agreement he [Kiir] has no power to appoint any person unless I nominate the person,” he told Aljazeera TV.
The former first deputy president, who also leads the opposition party of the SPLM-IO and commands its military wing, the SPLA-IO, said the process of his replacement convened by Taban Deng Gai was “illegal.”
He also confirmed that he already dismissed Taban Deng Gai a day before Gai “self-appointed himself” to replace him, adding that also there was no party’s institution which sat to make a decision. He said Taban Deng had defected to President Salva Kiir and Kiir was only appointing his “friend” who already defected to him.
The opposition leader further explained that even if he was to be absent he should have been the one to delegate someone to act on his behalf, particularly a most senior minister or party official.
Machar also revealed that he had earlier told his party deputy and minister of interior, General Alfred Ladu Gore, to act on his behalf when he was being forced out until he would come back to Juba. Gore was however reportedly intimidated by Gai and decided to succumb to his nomination without questioning his seniority in the matter.
The top opposition leader warned that the peace agreement is on the verge of “collapse” if the regional and international community fails to act to reverse the illegal decision of President Kiir and to deploy a third party force to take over security of the capital.
It was the first time that Machar spoke to the media after he left the capital, Juba, two weeks ago when his residence was attacked and bombed to the ground by forces loyal to President Kiir.
Machar’s comments have all confirmed statements which his spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, had been issuing on behalf of his boss for the past two weeks.
When asked about his whereabouts, Machar said he is “around Juba.”