Paramount chiefs in South Sudan hailing from the Nuer community have issued a joint statement disowning the newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai.
According to the statement quoted by Sudan Tribune, Gai who replaced Riek Machar, another Nuer fellow, was illegally selected.
The statement is signed by 14 paramount chiefs representing Nuer communities in the 14 greater counties in the states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei, inhabited by the Nuer.
“The above communities do not support the illegal move by Pres. Salva Kiir replacing Dr. Riek Machar Teny as the First Vice President of South Sudan with Gen. Taban Deng Gai,” it says.
“The Naath communities believe that Gen. Taban Deng Gai defected from the SPLM-IO and joined the SPLM In Government (IG). So, we take Gen. Taban Deng Gai treacherous manoeuvres as a mere propaganda played by the tribal Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) to prolong the suffering of the people of South Sudan for the selfish and tribal interests.”
The chiefs said they would stand strong behind the able and wise leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, the undisputed First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan.
The chiefs also condemned the continued attacks by government forces “on civilians in Upper Nile Region, Equatoria and Northern Bhar el Ghazel”, including what they said was the “earth scorching searches” to eliminate them and Machar.
“So, we reject the defected Gen. Taban Deng Gai from our Nuerland and do not support him. We also condemn President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Gen. Taban Deng Gai government for violating the peace agreement (ARCISS) signed by both leaders in August 2015.”
The traditional leaders also called on President Kiir to resign, charging that his leadership has been a reason for the prolonged suffering of the people of South Sudan.
US calls for hybrid court
Meanwhile, United States congressional Subcommittee on Africa and Global Human Rights on the visit to South Sudan has urged the African Union (AU) to speed up the establishment of the hybrid court for South Sudan in order to bring to book leaders accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity from 15 December 2015.
Christopher Henry Smith, who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations at the U.S. House of Representatives, said he is in South Sudan with his team to listen, learn and hear from the leaders what are their plans with regards to the establishment of the hybrid court in accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement.
The congressman said he was a believer of the hybrid court stipulated in the peace agreement to try South Sudanese leaders implicated in the crimes committed in Juba and beyond from 15 December 2015.
The peace agreement gives the hybrid court the jurisdiction on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and any other serious crimes under international law and any other relevant laws of South Sudan.
The court will have seven judges, four from the AU-member countries and three from South Sudan.
This court, according to the peace agreement, should be established by the African Union to investigate and try individuals responsible for violations of human rights during the conflict and throughout the transitional period.
It also stresses that the court should have been established six months after the formation of the transitional government.
AU last year released a report implicating senior officials of South Sudan’s government in the ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Thousands of civilians, mainly from the Nuer ethnic group, were murdered in Juba by presidential guards loyal to President Kiir from the onset of the conflict in December 2013.