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South Sudan News Makers: James Wani Igga

Igga reportedly joined the South Sudanese rebels in 1985, after training in Cuba and Ethiopia.

James Wani Igga is the Vice President of South Sudan, a position he has held since 2013. The renowned economist first served as the Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly from 2011 to 2013 and secretary general of the SPLM.

Igga reportedly joined the South Sudanese rebels in 1985, after training in Cuba and Ethiopia. He rose through the SPLA ranks rapidly and by 1987 Igga had the rank of Major and commanded the Shakus Battalion.

The same year he served as Zonal Commander of Central Equatoria and as a member of the SPLA High Command. Igga was reportedly well-respected among civilians.

He was one of the SPLA’s most senior representatives during negotiations with SPLA-Nasir. He represented Garang as the head of the SPLA-Torit delegation at peace talks in Nairobi in November 1991

In 1993 Igga accompanied Garang to Nairobi for a peacemaking seminar in June 1993, and to Kampala for an IGAD-mediated dialog with Machar’s Nasir faction.

As chairman of the SPLM Political Affairs Commission, Igga established the Technical Committee of Intellectuals in February 2000. This Committee was tasked with planning the civil administration of Southern Sudan.

Following the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement establishing the autonomy of Southern Sudan, Igga was in charge transitioning the SPLM from an insurgent strategic leadership to a political party. He was chosen as the speaker of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in 2005, and he continued in that office until independence in 2011.

He served as a caretaker governor of Upper Nile State for the transition period.

President Salva Kiir appointed Igga as vice president on 23 August 2013 to replace Riek Machar, whom he had dismissed a month previously. He will be required to resign as speaker.