October 7, 2016 (JUBA) – Former South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, who was ousted in a controversial replacement process following the 8 July violence in the capital, Juba, has dispatched to the United States of America a team of senior officials to engage the U.S. administration on the situation in South Sudan, his media official has confirmed.
The team led by Ambassador Stephen Par Kuol, chairperson for national committee for education in the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) already arrived in Washington and have begun engaging the relevant officials and bodies.
“Yes, it is true. The chairman and commander-in-chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has sent a team to the United States to help clear the air with the U.S. administration and with our constituency in the diaspora,” James Gatdet Dak confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
He said the team, which arrived while the South Sudanese newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng, was in the U.S. also engaged Deng during media debates over the violations of the August 2015 peace agreement in Juba.
Dak further claimed that the new “illegal” First Vice President has no constituency both in South Sudan and in the diaspora, adding that his requests to meet the South Sudanese communities in the U.S. was turned down. He said only few individuals and Deng’s huge members of government’s delegation plus the South Sudan’s embassy staff in Washington were his only audience in the U.S.
“It is clear that Dr. Machar commands the overwhelming majority support of his constituencies in South Sudan and in the diaspora. Our team has been invited to several states in the U.S. by the South Sudanese communities while Mr. Taban with his team has been boycotted,” he said.
Over a 100,000 members of the South Sudanese communities are believed to be residing across the U.S. with the majority of them being the Nuer community from which both Machar and Deng hail.
He said the SPLM-IO officials have begun to tour the densely populated states by South Sudanese to which they have been invited to in order to brief the people on what actually transpired in Juba as the “peace agreement has collapsed.”
The opposition’s delegation included Henry Odwar, chairperson for national committee for energy, Goi Joyool, SPLM-IO representative in Ethiopia and Reath Muoch, who represents the opposition faction in the U.S.
Dak also said the team will interact with the U.S.-based media houses and explain to the American people through the media outlets the circumstances under which the peace agreement has collapsed.
“It is important that the outgoing U.S administration or its State Department should not support violations of the August 2015 peace agreement by President Salva Kiir and his friend, Taban Deng. They should not succumb to the regime and be tempted to support their illegal replacement of the peace partner, Dr. Riek Machar, who is signatory to the agreement,” he said.
Last month while on a visit to Kenya, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the replacement of Machar as First Vice President was in accordance with the provisions of the peace agreement.
Machar’s group however said it procedurally violated the Articles 6.4 and 6.5 of the clauses which deal with replacement of top officials in the transitional government of national unity.