Juba, December 29, 2018 (SSNA) — South Sudanese senior government officials with different interests on how the ongoing peace process should be conducted are fighting over who should be seen as a key player in the process, a senior government official who talked to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) exclusively on condition of anonymity said on Saturday.
The official explained that two political camps emerged soon after the implementation of Khartoum’s peace agreement and that these groups are a group led by the current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and other faction led by Presidential advisor Tut kew Gatluak.
The disagreement, according to the source, happened early this month when South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, announced that he rejected to include FV Taban Deng Gai and Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth in the Political Bureau (PB) of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The official stated that the two factions who are dominated by Nuer ethnicity are basically fighting for political survival.
“Presidential advisor Tut Kew Gatluak, Former South Sudanese army chief of staff Gen. Gathoth Mai, Northern Liech State Governor Joseph Nguen Monytuil, Presidential advisor on higher education Dr. John Gach Yoa, Deputy Finance Minister Biel Jock Thich, Former Upper Nile Governor Simon Kun Puoch, are the ones leading government-linked group,” the official disclosed to the SSNA, adding, “the other group is basically being led by Taban Deng Gai and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.”
The official asserted that the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), a tribal group, blame for many ethnically-motivated destructive campaigns in the country, is also to be blamed for the ongoing infighting between the two groups. The source also added that Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth lied to the JCE soon after July 2016 assassination attempt on rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar that he was the one who connected Machar with world leaders and that he played a crucial role in Dr. Machar’s illegal detainment in South Africa.
“The JCE realized that Ezekiel Lol and Taban Deng are greedy liars. These people [Taban and Ezekiel] are very greedy politicians,” he said.
The source revealed to the South Sudan News Agency that FV Taban Deng and Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol have systematically removed Maiwut State’s officials who are supporters of Tut Kew’s faction.
“Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth wants to be a member of the SPLM political bureau because he wants to remove anyone he deems a threat to him and Taban. In reality, the group led by Tut Kew has the power to remove Ezekiel Lol and his backers from Maiwut State’s Council,” the official elaborated.
“Let me give you one example, when peace celebration was done in Pagak, only Taban Deng’s group was in attendance. Peace is for all South Sudanese but Ezekiel Lol and Taban Deng think they are the ones who should celebrate peace with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) in Pagak. Those who went to Pagak were Members of parliament (MPs) from Taban’s group even a single MP from the government-linked faction led by Tut Kew was not in Pagak,” the source further explained.
The South Sudan News Agency was also told that the armed opposition Governor of Adar State Stephen Pal Kun Kek was lobbied by Ezekiel Lol through an individual close to Simon Kun Puoch.
“Ezekiel has no communication with Stephen Pal. The people who have a good connection with the SPLM-IO officials are people in Tut Kew’s group. Ezekiel Lol was given the phone number of the rebel Governor by a person who is very close Simon Kun Puoch,” the source continued.
According to the source, MPs in Maiwut State linked to Tut Kew’s faction were deliberated dismissed by Ezekiel Lol and are living in hotels in Juba and that they are being accommodated by deputy finance minister Biel jock Thich.
“I think Tut Kew’s group has at least six MPs in Maiwut State but these people were removed by Ezekiel, they are now being accommodated by Biel Jock and other government-linked officials,” he stressed.
The official further explained to the South Sudan News Agency that the leadership of the JCE secretly recommends to President Kiir that Taban Deng Gai is the only one who should be appointed to the political bureau and that Ezekiel Lol should never be accepted as a member of the party’s highest decision-making body. It is also revealed that FV Taban wants to replace Northern Liech State, but President Kiir and the JCE are not in agreement with him.