South Sudan’s new first vice president Taban Deng Gai has told his predecessor, Reik Machar to go into exile.
In a speech broadcast on both radio and television, Gai who formally took office on Thursday said: “I am advising him (Machar) to come back to Juba and stay peacefully or he can go anywhere; to Addis Ababa to Nairobi to Kampala or Khartoum to stay there peacefully and wait for elections (in 2018) so that you the people come and elect him to office or you say we don’t trust you”.
Gai’s comments could deepen the political rift in the country especially as his own appointment has been rejected by opposition members loyal to Reik Machar.
The political landscape in South Sudan has been plagued by splits as leaders switch allegiances in a contest for power and influence in the oil producing nation.
The SPLM in opposition forces, led by Machar were engaged in a 2-year conflict with Salva Kiir’s troops which led to the displacement of several civilians.
Machar also left the capital but returned in April this year after a shaky peace deal.
He has however fled Juba again since renewed clashes erupted between his troops and those loyal to the president.
Nearly 300 people were killed in the violence including 2 Chinese UN personnel.
Salva Kiir last week gave Machar a 48-hour ultimatum to return to the capital or risk replacement. Nothing has since been heard from him.
On Tuesday, Taban Deng Gai, a who was the chief negotiator for the SPLM in opposition during the peace talks was sworn into office as the first vice president to replace Reik Machar.