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Machar ‘abandons’ peace for COVID-19 – political analyst

Authors: Okot Emmanuel | | Published: Friday, April 17, 2020

The previous taskforce was headed by President Kiir and deputized by Dr. Riek Machar. Photo| Lin Nelson | Eye Radio.

Dr. Riek Machar has lost touch with the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement after shifting focus on COVID-19, a political analyst has said.

In February, the peace parties started the process of forming a coalition government in line with the September 2018 peace deal.

They formed the Presidency and later the cabinet.

But the Presidency, which consists of representatives of government and opposition parties is yet to agree on state governments.

Political analyst, Dr. James Okuk argues that the leader of SPLM/A-IO, Dr. Riek Machar is preoccupied with the work of the High-Level Taskforce on COVID-19 pandemic, forgetting what took him to Juba.

Okuk noted that there is a leadership vacuum in the states –especially at such a time of an outbreak.

“You take Dr. Riek himself, you will wonder whether he came to Juba for COVID-19 or he came to Juba to implement the agreement,” Dr. Okuk said.

“He [Machar] is the one now chairing all the meetings and he is just the deputy of the chair, where is the chair of the task force?  We have not seen the chair of the task force meeting with these people, this is a question mark.”

The political commentator also urges parties to the revitalized peace agreement not to allow the COVID-19 response to hinder the implementation of the peace deal.

Dr. Okuk described this as “a double tragedy for the country if all effort is put towards the fight against COVID-19 forgetting implementation of the peace agreement.

“What will be the use of COVID-19 control if the peace agreement is collapsing that is what I can call double tragedy if we are not careful.”

“As far as we are concern about our health we need to be concern about our peace both have to go hand in hand.”


The political analyst said the recent wave of defection within the peace parties poses a threat to the implementation of the peace agreement.

On Thursday this week, the former Minister of Petroleum also the former governor of Upper Nile state, Dak Duop Bichiok, and Ambassador Dabuol Lualweng, Yien Thiang Luong, Thomas Maluit Hoth, and among others declared their defection from SPLM/A-IO of Dr. Riek Machar and pay allegiance to President Salva Kiir.

In March, former SPLA-IO Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration and Finance, Lt. Gen. James Koang with the other three generals abandoned Dr. Riek Machar and joined President Kiir’s camp.

Recently, two senior government officials abandoned President Kiir and joined SPLM/A-IO of Dr. Riek Machar.

They are Telar Ring Deng, the former presidential advisor on Legal affairs and former South Sudan Ambassador to Russia, and James Kok Ruei, the former governor of defunct Fangak state and the former minister of Humanitarian Affairs.

Dr. Okuk stated that the wave of defection amid the parties is spoiling the spirit of partnership which is key to developing political will that will enable the parties to work towards a lasting peace.

He accused the party’s leaders of encouraging defection that he argues is already a stumbling block to the peace deal.

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