November 21, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese vice president, James Wani Igga on Thursday broke the silence over his political fate in the proposed transitional government of national unity, saying he would not again relinquish his position in the country.
“Some people in Equatoria are mistakenly thinking that this is about James Wani Igga, but let me tell you that this is a bigger scheme which some of you do not know. It is a well-designed plan aimed at keeping Equatoria at the periphery and we should think about it carefully. And along this line, I want to say that if you, the people of Equatoria from east to west, the people of South Sudan as a country at large and the leadership of the SPLM decide that I step down for the second time, I will do that without objection,” Igga told a group of elders gathered at his residence in the capital, Juba.
“I will not pick up spears to fight anyone,” he added.
Igga used Thursday’s occasion as an opportunity to inform the elders that the leadership of the ruling party (SPLM) was going to convene an extraordinary leadership meeting during which all the contentious issues would be discussed before the deadline given by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to both warring sides expire.
“I will not voluntarily step down if this is the wish of Riek Machar. I have done that before and if he thinks I am a fool, I will not do it this time,” said Igga.
He said the mini leadership meeting would be held on Monday.
According to Igga, the armed opposition led by Riek Machar proposed three levels of government, while the government seeks five levels of decision making mechanism at the leadership structure.
“The rebels are making unrealistic demands. They want the prime minister to have executive powers even though they accept our governing system is presidential. They want the president to remain in his position but with nominal role, which is unacceptable. How can an elected president relinquish powers for which he was elected? It would set a dangerous precedent if this idea is supported,” he said.
“He [president] will not succumb whatsoever and this must be clear,” he added.
The government, he observed, proposed a structure that recognises the position of the president, vice president in addition to that of a prime minister with three deputies and the council of ministers.
“We also accept IGAD’s proposal, which include the position of the two deputy ministers but which also added one so that there are three deputy ministers. One will go to the former detainees, one to the political parties and one from SPLM (government),” said Igga.
“Another level of decision making is the council of ministers,” he added.
But Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said Juba seemed to have completely missed the point on the proposed leadership structure and power-sharing negotiations.
“SPLM/SPLA is neither targeting the current Vice President James Wani Igga as a person nor stripping Equatorians of the position of the Vice President. We are simply saying the position is unnecessary because the executive powers should be shared between the president and the prime minister,” Dak said in a statement.
“This is to avoid confusions in decision making in the top executive. If President Salva Kiir stepped down and handed over the presidency to his deputy Wani, and to continue with the peace process, we in the SPLM/SPLA would still be recognising Wani as president and top executive of the Juba regime,” he added.
He further said the contentious matter had nothing to do with Igga or Equatorians.
“I don’t believe vice-president Wani represents the aspirations of the people of Greater Equatoria region,” Dak said.