South Sudanese Minister Resigns, Declares Peace Deal 'Dead'

A South Sudanese minister resigned from his position on Monday, citing the end of the peace deal that was meant to put an end to the conflict between President Salva Kiir and Vice President and opposition leader Riek Machar as the reason for his resignation.

Lam Akol, who was the leader of the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) party, was the agriculture minister in Mr. Kiir’s administration.

According to The Guardian, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Akol said, “There is no more peace agreement to implement in Juba.”

This is in reference to the peace agreement signed in August 2015 by the ruling party and the opposition party to end a civil war that had lasted two years and led to the installment of Mr. Machar as Vice President of the youngest country in the world. But with the appointment of the new Vice President, Tabang Deng Gai, the minister of mining, the status of the peace deal remains uncertain.

“All of us agree that the regime in Juba must change,” he was quoted as saying.

“I went into the cabinet to implement the peace agreement,” he added. “If the peace agreement has died, I have no moral justification to continue in that government.”

After a clash between the opposing parties earlier in July, Mr. Machar has been hiding in the capital since the violence erupted earlier in July, saying that he feared for his life. He stated he would only return after more international troops are deployed to act as a buffer between the factions.

Mr. Akol stated, “If you don’t have the first vice president, then who is your next partner in the peace agreement?”

Mr. Kiir is yet to make a statement indicating whether the peace deal is annulled.

He resigned from his ministerial position, his role as chairman of the Democratic Change Party and the National Alliance of opposition groups.  

“Since the agreement is dead and there is no free political space in Juba, the only sensible way to oppose this regime so as to restore genuine peace… is to organize outside Juba,” Mr. Akol said.

Mr. Akol was the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the commission that monitored implementation of the peace deal of 2015.

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Lam Akol resigns from South Sudan govt, says peace deal is over

ADDIS ABABA (1 Aug.)

Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security in the South Sudanese cabinet, has resigned his position saying that “there is no more peace agreement to implement in Juba.” 

Lam was one of two members of the non-armed opposition parties to be appointed to ministerial positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity under the terms of the peace deal signed last August. 

The ‘unity’ government is showing more signs of fractures with the departure of SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar from Juba with several other officials and now Lam Akol’s resignation.

The National Alliance chairman in his resignation statement blamed President Salva Kiir for dealing a “final blow” to the peace deal by his actions since the first week of July “culminating in the military attack on the First Vice President, dislodging him from Juba and invoking his absence to fill his position with a person of his choice in the name of SPLM-IO.” 

“One cannot with a clear conscience serve under such a regime,” the minister wrote.

Lam cited other violations of the peace deal including the creation of 28 states, delays in forming the transitional assembly, obstructions of ceasefire monitors, and “ethnic-oriented killings in Rjaa, Wau and other ares in Equatoria, [and] refusing to lift the state of emergency.”

The outgoing agriculture minister condemned and mocked the president’s decision to replace Machar with his top lieutenant Taban Deng as first vice president, calling Taban Deng a ‘poodle.’

Lam pointed to the violence last month in Juba as marking the end of the security arrangements of the peace deal. “History teaches us that whenever the security arrangements of any peace agreement collapse the whole agreement collapses,” he said. 

The minister has also resigned his position within the non-armed opposition National Alliance and the Democratic Change party, saying that there is “no free political space in Juba.”

Lam Akol, who never endorsed the use of violence during the 2014-2015 period of the civil war, now hints at the possibility of joining the armed opposition, though in his statement he did not specifically say he would do so. He disclosed, “We are consulting with like-minded compatriots so as to build a broad national front to lead our relentless effort to save our country… The people of South Sudan will not sand more of a callous, totalitarian and ethnio-centric regime that seems to thrive on the suffering of its own people.” 

Sources confirmed to Radio Tamazuj prior to Lam’s departure that opposition groups are organizing to form a new coalition to battle the Kiir government after the breakup of the SPLM/SPLM-IO government, though the details of these efforts are yet to be reported. 

In Juba, meanwhile, Kornilo Kon, the head of the National Alliancein Juba, confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that his former boss Dr. Lam Akol submitted his resignation on Monday to the party members after consultation.

He said that the party members have accepted his resignation and appointed immediately a new leader. Meanwhile, they plan tomorrow to nominate someone from their ranks to replace Lam in the cabinet as agriculture minister.

Meanwhile, guarantors of the South Sudanese peace deal, which include East African nations, China and Western powers, met in Khartoum on Sunday to discuss the situation of the transitional government after the July violence and the removal of Machar. 

Festus Mogae, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Chairman, urged the guarantors to “do everything… to prevent a relapse into full-scale war and salvage the Agreement.” 

But Lam Akol called the guarantors “impotent” to ensure that Kiir respected the agreement, “a situation that emboldened him more to dishonour the agreement.” 

“The agreement was the only hope to save our country from the abyss. Yet, Kiir has opted to leap into the dark. This is the worst nightmare for the people of South Sudan,” said the former minister.

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