By Atiop Yach, Juba, South Sudan
April 3, 2017 (SSB) — Who knew that the two men (Salva Kiir Mayardit and Taban Deng Gai) were going to work together again due to their past differences that lead to the dismissal of the then governor of former Unity State who later teamed up with the man (Dr. Riek Machar) whom the gubernatorial election of April 2010 was rigged against his wife in favor of Taban. This is real politic but politic of regions and tribes.
We have had many instances in recent weeks that are likely to cause rift in working relationship of Salva Kiir and Taban Deng. It first began with the governor of Ruweng State, Theji de Aduot Deng aka Thomas Sankara resigning from the SPLM – IO faction led by Taban Deng Gai to whom he was part of it from inception and being the ticket he was appointed to be the governor of the state. Theji Deng rejoined the SPLM mainstream which will be a boost to Salva Kiir numbers in the region which is believe to be an SPLM – IO stronghold and signified tribal affiliations.
His resignation led to his sacking as the governor who was sponsored by IO. In his resignation letter he raised so many allegations against Taban Deng which he found to be against the will of his community. The allegations where quickly dismissed by the party secretary general Dhieu Mathok that they are baseless and unsubstantiated.
But having listened to Theji Deng’s interview on SBS radio Dinka programme broadcasted from Melbourne Australia. Anyone who understand the language of the interview will surely believe there is a big crisis looming that will make the two leaders (Salva Kiir and Taban Deng) one day fall apart if Mr. Salva Kiir take side once he is convince by Theji’s allegations.
The ramifications of Theji Deng’s allegations are so heavy and complicated to the fact Salva Kiir can’t ignore them but to quietly have secret conversation with his first deputy to iron out these severe allegations that could spur further cracks in the undoubted working relationship between the two men.
The fact remain that Theji Deng’s allegations can’t be lightly ignored because the president appointee to replaced Deng was quickly dismissed by the community of Ruweng back home signifying the growing distrust that has been built by the president as he implied the state is IO territory. The demonstrations witnessed by his office and that of Taban showed there is a growing problem to be addressed.
Already Theji and Taban were enemies from day one when he was sworn in. Deng in his SBS Radio Dinka programme interview confessed that Taban has asked him just after his swearing in ceremony just concluded that he and Joseph Monytuil (governor of Northern Liech State) will deploy police personnel in the dispute territory which the governor (Theji Deng) told him in his face at the time that this won’t happen and if there is going to be such idea from Joseph Monytuil to unilaterally deploy these policemen, there is going to be fighting in that place. This made Taban to be angry with Theji Deng and they departed without any consensus. All these happened because Theji Deng was a close ally of Taban and that what earned him the trust for his appointment by Taban.
Upon arriving from home in Ruweng, Governor Theji claimed that Taban made a follow-up phone call and asked him if he had done what he had instructed him while in Juba. But governor Theji said, I did told you that this place belong to Ruweng and you have nothing to claim here. This what made Taban upset again and ended the call. Theji Deng concluded he can’t allow the annexation of Ruweng land at the expense of his leadership position be lured to him by Taban.
This brief encounter between Theji Deng and Taban Deng has made the relationship of the two leaders gone to another level. When Theji Deng was asked about what he know of the area claim by Taban. Theji gave elaborate account of how he Taban in 2005 has requested the former commissioner of Pariang County under former unity State Miabek Lang to have him settled briefly in that territory.
Historically, Theji also narrated how this place has marked community seal between the Jekeny of Northern Liech and people of Ruweng that whoever will cross this territory in the event of communal fights, whether Jekeny or Dinka of Ruweng, they will die in large numbers in respect to those who will have instigate the assault over the other.
So it is believe the community elders of Jekeny are aware of this treaty but he Taban has a different agenda as he pursue the annexation this land to Northern Liech State. The claims are that, much of oil deposit are in Ruweng and therefore he want to show that this place belong to Jekeny so that he can benefited from the percentage allocated to the county or state producing oil. The second claim is that he want to make sure that he establish his own company to work in the oil sector once he has secured this annexation policy.
Earlier in my introductions, I said the allegations are heavy and complicated to the point Mr. president cannot ignored them. Now if Mr. President have interested in them and ask Taban what he knew of these allegations and he Taban denies them as expected, the president will reverse his decision to reappoint Theji Deng as the governor of Ruweng State to safeguard the people’s demand as shown by their rejection of Theji’s replacement and witnessed by mass demonstration.
The implications are that Taban will not be happy with president supreme decision not to consider his choice. Therefore there will be a shift in their working relation between the two and this begins the bad working relationship between them.
Theji Deng will be victorious in all the allegations that he has made against Taban and therefore, he will be willing and ready to defend the territory at all cost and means. On his part, Taban will use his influence with Joseph Monytuil to send troops to the area as wanted by Taban Deng.
This cycle will definitely make the honeymoon of Kiir and Taban come to an end if not so soon but give it a time, it will exploded and that is my bad wish for the peace in Northern Liech and Ruweng State.
Yach Atiop Yach is a humanitarian Aid worker base in South Sudan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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