South Sudanese vice-president, James Wani Igga, on Monday in Juba met the former first lady, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior and members of the former political detainees, becoming the first top official in President Salva Kiir’s government to do so.
Igga met the wife of founder of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), late John Garang, at her home for a courtesy visit. Earlier, Igga had a brief meeting with former political detainees led by former cabinet affairs minister, Deng Alor, and former justice minister John Luk Jok, as well as senior secretariat official of the SPLM-IO, Gabriel Gabriel Deng.
“The vice president and SPLM deputy chairman reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to the Arusha reunification agreement during the meetings,” said Akol Paul Kordit, the chairperson of SPLM youth league who accompanied Igga during the two separate meetings.
Nyandeng returned to Juba two weeks ago as part of the efforts to implement the peace agreement signed in August. She was in exile in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, for nearly two years with the senior SPLM leaders detained at the onset of the conflict in December 2013.
She was reportedly attacked inside Emmanuel Jieng Parish church in Juba few days after her return to Juba, with her critics accusing her of playing an anti-government campaign after 15 December 2013, which played to the tune of the armed opposition faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, in which her eldest son, Mabior Garang, is a senior official.
According to Kordit, the meetings with participation of Nyandeng discussed efforts to implement the SPLM reunification agreement signed in Arusha, Tanzania, in January.
“The leadership of this country is committed to the peace agreement to end the suffering, stop the war and enhance development,” he said.
Former justice minister Luk also applauded the meeting. “We discussed matters connected to the implementation of the peace agreement as well as issues connected to the reunification of the SPLM,” he said.
An extraordinary convention of the SPLM is scheduled to take place over the weekend in Juba and the former detainees, who are senior members of the ruling party, are expected to participate.
Luk said his team also met President Salva Kiir although no footage was shown on the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV).
Leader of the former detainees, Pagan Amum, is not however expected to participate in the said convention as he declined to return to Juba with the team, earlier citing personal security concerns on his life. He was in August threatened by senior officials of the government for signing a peace agreement alongside Machar while his party chairman, Kiir, refused to ink the deal on 17 August.
SPLM-IO under the leadership of former vice-president, Machar, is not also expected to participate in the convention.