Machar asks Kiir to remove Taban Deng as Minister of Mining
South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar has requested President Salva Kiir to relieve Minister of Mining Taban Deng Gai from his post immediately.
In a letter addressed to Kiir and published late Friday, Machar said he has withdrawn Taban’s name from the Ministry of Mining, but did not give a reason.
“In exercise of my powers, as First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, as per the Agreement of the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Article 6, I hereby withdraw and recall Gen. Taban Deng Gai as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity as from today, 22nd of July, 2016″ Machar wrote.
“I am asking Your Excellency to relieve him with immediate effect,” the letter continued.
Machar said he would nominate a replacement minister as soon as he returns to Juba and once a third party force is deployed to the capital. Machar is not in Juba following clashes last week, and has said that he will not return to the capital unless a third force is there to keep peace. The government has voiced its opposition to the deployment of foreign troops, saying they will fight any unwelcome intervention.
Machar’s request to remove Taban comes after a 48 hour deadline was given on Friday for the First Vice President to return to Juba.
According to article 6 of the peace agreement, “Each party may remove its representatives in the council of ministers and nominate replacements by notifying the President and First Vice President with at least 14 days notice.”
It is unclear if the SPLM-IO’s organs met and decided to remove Taban from his ministerial post. Some top SPLM-IO officials are in hiding in protection of civilians sites or in other places in Juba, have fled the city like Machar, or are abroad.
Before being appointed minister, Taban was the SPLM-IO’s chief negotiator in Addis Ababa. He is viewed as a rival of Machar within the SPLM-IO.