Former Unity state governor Taban Deng Gai who has led the rebel’s negotiation team at the peace for the last two years has this week thrown in towel confirming the long rumoured rifts within ranks of former rebels.
Taban an old rival of Riek’s wife Angelina has long been rumoured to be at odds with Riek over the leadership of the so called IO. Taban after consolidating and securing his hard won position as minister of mining decided to end his political marriage with Riek Machar. The former governor of Unity state now divided into Northern Liech, Southern Liech and Ruweng states was named as one of the instigators of the 2013 mutiny among the republican guards was a political rival of Angelina Teny and her husband Riek Machar during the 2010 Sudan Elections. Taban was preferred by SPLM over Angelina who opted to contest the seat on an independent ticket.
After Taban was declared the winner, Angelina disputed the results and claimed the elections were rigged by SPLM in favor of Taban. This is where Taban – Angelina – Riek rivalry began. But as they say, the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Taban, Riek and Angelina found themselves united against president Salva Kiir in 2013 after Taban also fell out with Kiir after his removal as governor of Unity State. The new political friends brought together by one mission of removing Salva Kiir in power swept their differences under the carpet. Even though there has been rumoured mistrust among the three they managed to keep it off the media as their common enemy was Kiir.
The differences have now resurfaced following Taban’s resignation as SPLM IO’s chief negotiator and as member of JMEC. In his resignation letter last week, Taban mentioned that he wanted to devote his time to his new duties as minister of mining but in fact that was not true.
According to sources in SPLM IO, Taban was not happy with the manner in which the IO leadership selected the ministries. It is said that Taban had prepared taking ministry of petroleum of the ministerial portfolios allocated to them by the peace agreement.
SPLM IO sources say the selection of ten IO ministers was mainly influenced by Angelina Teny, Riek’s first powerful wife. This happened after SPLM IO political leadership mandated Riek to select and allocate positions to high ranking politicians in IO. The process of selection has reportedly angered Mr. Taban and decided to resign as chief negotiator and eventually leave SPLM – IO. It is worth mentioning that Taban’s job as chief negotiator has not finished due to outstanding issues that were left to be negotiated once the TGONU is formed. Among these is the issue of 28 states. The creation of 28 or more states in the country has to be discussed at JMEC level not in the council of ministers, an issue which needs Taban as chief negotiator for former rebels IO.
More discontented individuals and those who hoped to get ministerial jobs are said to be quitting IO soon which leaves us with the question, has SPLM – IO started to disintegrate?
John Masura is an “upcoming writer” – Can only be reached through his Facebook (John Masura).