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Angelina Teny’s appointment may have shocked and even disappointed several people. What exactly compelled Dr. Machar to pick her from a line-up of other capable candidates?(Image File/Reuters)

BY CHOL DENG ANYIETH

When the Revitalized Transitional Government was formed, Hon. Angelina Teny got appointed as the Defense Minister in the RTGoNU.  Angelina Teny is the wife of Dr. Riek Machar Teny and her appointment was perhaps through the nomination of Dr. Riek Machar, the owner and leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). 

Her appointment was not well received by some members of the SPLM/A-IO and as a result, some senior officers and politicians who were left without assignment decided to switch their allegiance to the SPLM Party which is led by His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit. 

The defectors claim there was nepotism at play, and that she was nominated and thereafter appointed because she is the wife of Dr. Machar. However, in my view, and in the view of many people in South Sudan, there are several valid reasons why Dr. Machar nominated her.

The Hybrid Court

Chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan provides for the establishment of the Hybrid Court by the African Union Commission. This court’s mandate is to investigate, prosecute and try individuals responsible for the grave violation of the laws of war from December 15th 2013 to the end of the transitional period. 

This provision in the agreement might have compelled Dr. Riek Machar to nominate Angelina Teny as the most senior minister in the dockets given to the SPLM-IO. 

This way, in case the Hybrid Court becomes a reality and Dr. Machar as a key principal partner in the agreement is absent due to busy schedules in court for some reasons, his absence should not halt his plans for the country and the party. The continuity of the projects is secured by the presence of Angelina Teny in the powerful top ministry. It should be noted that her rise to the top post at the SPLM/A-IO can be easy since she is the most senior minister among the ministers of SPLM/A-IO.

Her integral involvement in the project

Hon. Angelina Teny, being a competent South Sudanese educated female, is presumed to be the founding partner in project SPLM/A-IO. She is also thought to have played an integral role in many other past successful and failed projects initiated by Dr. Riek Machar such as SPLM/A Nasir Faction, South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) and many other unconfirmed bodies by virtue of being the wife. 

She has been part of her husband’s journey and struggle. It is safe to assume that she was actively involved in each, right at the discussion table and engaging the right people etc. She can access, read and discard any document deemed unfit on Marchar’s table. 

Many friends from SPLM/A-IO claim that Hon. Angelina Teny is the real generator of the movement and that due to her proximity to the helm of power within SPLM/A-IO; all appointments are orchestrated or have to be blessed by her.

Tribal alignment of the SPLM/A-IO

This project called SPLM/A-IO is often viewed as a Nuer tribal organization that lacks a national outlook and conventional succession plan of power. 

The ascension of Gen. Taban Deng into the post of the First Vice President after Dr. Riek failed in his second attempt to topple President Kiir in 2016 illustrates how SPLM/A-IO finds it hard to shed its tribal marks.

Think about this, Dr. Riek Machar was deputized by Gen. Alfred Lado Gore in 2014-2016. He was to be the First Vice President in the absence of his boss (Dr. Machar) in 2016, but because he is a stranger in the eyes of SPLM/A-IO owners, he remained there as a deputy to date and Gen. Taban Deng from the lower ranks of the SPLM/A-IO was unanimously nominated and replaced Dr. Riek Machar. 

After Dr. Riek reorganized his movement, he appointed Hon. Henry Odwar as his deputy with the aim of luring non-Nuer citizens to join and support his project, and indeed, he succeeded at some point. 

Upon receiving his cheque(post of First Vice President), Dr. Machar brought his wife from the lowest rank(kitchen) of SPLM/A-IO to the most senior ministry among the ministries allocated to the SPLM/A-IO at the expense of Hon. Henry Odwar who is his deputy. 

The other example is the demotion of former minister Hon. Mabior Garang de Mabior to the post of a deputy minister and promotion of his then deputy Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth to minister.

Mabior Garang de Mabior was the chairman of Information Committee in the SPLM-IO and was deputized by Manawa Peter Gatkuoth and since the appointment into ministerial posts is always based on seniority within the party/movement, Mabior Garang should have been a minister in the RTGoNU but because he was an outsider, his deputy became a minister instead.  What a fiasco! One can safely arrive at the conclusion that these arrangements confirm that non-Nuers who serve under SPLM/A-IO are there as walking sticks of Dr. Riek Machar and his family. The project is designed in such a way that succession should come from the Nuer community. 

The appointment of Angelina Teny to that post was therefore done in keeping with the organization’s history and ways. I believe that the above reasons and many other factors not mentioned herein might have compelled Dr. Riek Machar to nominate and facilitate the appointment of Hon. Angelina Teny as Defence Minister.

Chol Deng Anyieth is a Legal Practitioner based in Juba. He holds LLM (Public International Law) from Kampala International University, LLM (General Laws) from the University of Juba and LLB from the University of Juba. He can be reached via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent the views of the organization he works for.

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