September 11, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese First Vice President Taban Deng Gai has travelled to Pretoria, South Africa on Sunday for what officials described as a “mission on bilateral ties”.
South Africa is a fourth country that Gai visits since taking office in July. He was in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan for talks on the implementation of peace agreement signed last year and bilateral ties.
“The first Vice President will meet South African President Jacob Zuma for talks on bilateral relations and reunification of the SPLM party,” said Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Petroleum Minister and member of the delegation accompanying Gai to Pretoria.
South Africa’s ruling African Congress Party (ANC) brokered, SPLM reunification agreement signed in February 2015 together with Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapiduzi (CCM).
The efforts to reunite SPLM In Government led by President Salva Kiir, and SPLM IO of former Vice President Machar and SPLM Former Detainees under the leadership Pagan Amum were aimed at ending the crisis that erupted in December 2013.
According to the SPLM reunification agreement, all party officials, including Gai, will be reinstated to their positions held before being fired in early 2014. But the decision by President Kiir faction to organized an extraordinary meeting in February 2015 without FDs and SPLM IO castes doubts of the reunification drive.
Gatkuoth did not elaborate on the details of Pretoria meeting but analysts in Juba say Gai is seeking regional and African support to consolidate his grip on power and reduce Machar attempts to return to Juba as First Vice President.