South Sudan: Kiir Threatens to Oust Machar Once Again
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has threatened to replace Vice-President Riek Machar, according to reports.
Sudan Tribune says the president handed out an ultimatum to his deputy on Sunday. If Riek Machar doesn’t return to Juba immediately, he will be replaced by someone else from withing his faction, the online publication says.
Machar flees again
Riek Machar fled Juba on Monday, 11 July, after a confrontation outside the presidential palace. Amid fears that war could return to South Sudan, Machar’s departure reminds of his escape when civil conflict first broke out in 2013.
Meanwhile, the prospect he could be ousted from his position as vice-president – the same move that sparked that civil war – is another parallel. Except, this time, the president is lining up members from Machar’s party to replace him.
“There are many members of the SPLM-IO here in Juba. The minister of Mining, Taban Deng Gai, who was chief negotiator during the peace talks can be appointed,” an unnamed official told Sudan Tribune.
A difficult choice
If these reports are true, the threat to replace Machar with one of his officials is significant. It would single out Machar for fleeing Juba when South Sudan needs its leaders most. However, doing so in a way that doesn’t alienate his party or contravene the nation’s transitional government.
Taban Deng Gai is one name already linked with the post – a popular man amongst the SPLM-IO. But there are concerns over his reputation with the ethnic Nuer group, who are significant allies to President Kiir.
Either way, none of this can happen without the consent of Machar’s SPLM-IO party. Under the newly formed transitional government, President Kiir has no power to replace leaders unless top leaders from their party request it.
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