South Sudan minister resigns amid political crisis

JUBA, Aug 2 (Xinhua) — A South Sudan minister and opposition leader has resigned, claiming that a peace deal which was inked year ago is no longer valid.

Lam Akol, who was the minister of agriculture and food security and a member of peace monitors, resigned from the transitional unity government late on Monday and called for regime change because the peace agreement “is dead.”

“This is to inform the public that I have on July 28 tendered my resignation to the National Alliance as Minister of Agriculture and Food Security in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TgoNU) and also as their representative in the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC),” Akol said in a statement.

Akol called on South Sudanese to decide their own future, saying there was no peace agreement to be implemented going by recent President Salva Kiir’s actions.

“Since the peace agreement is dead and there is no free political space in Juba, the only sensible way is to oppose this regime so the peace is restored in the country is to organize outside Juba,” he said.

Akol, who was among two members of the non-armed opposition parties to be appointed to ministerial positions in Kiir administration, also resigned from his leadership from his Party, Democratic Change Party.

He said he found it difficult to work with President Kiir in the unity government, adding that Kiir and his confidants did not hide their rejections of peace agreement.

“He (Kiir) has been putting obstacle after obstacle on the way of its implementation and violating it with impunity. He cited creation of 28 states, refusing to implement security arrangements, stalling reconstitution of the transitional legislative assembly, preventing the ceasefire and transitional security arrangement monitoring mechanism from carrying out its duty to observe and report on ceasefire violation,” Akol added.

He also criticized the move by President Kiir to replace Dr. Riek Machar with his top lieutenant Taban Deng as first vice president, calling Deng a ‘poodle.’

The former minister said he was in talks with like-minded people to save South Sudan which has been struggling to implement the fragile peace deal inked in August 2015.

“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 stand more of a callous, totalitarian and ethnio-centric regime that seems to thrive on the suffering of its own people,” he said.

The former rebel leader left Juba following five days of intense fighting that claimed lives of 272 people and displaced more than 36,000 others.

The former rebel leader has ruled out returning to Juba without a regional force that is expected to provide enhanced security for the crisis-hit South Sudan.

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