JUBA – South Sudan’s then former Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and his long-time press secretary, James Gatdet Dak Lampuar, were both studying masters’ degrees in the same field following Machar’s dismissal from office in July 2013, Gatdet has revealed.
Machar graduated from the University of Khartoum in engineering in 1977. He then flied to the United Kingdom where he studied Master’s Degree in Production Management and Manufacturing Technology from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
In 1984, he obtained a Doctorate in Strategic Planning in Industry and graduated in 1984 before flying back to then Southern Sudan that same year to join the SPLA that was then fighting the Sudanese government.
He rose to high rank in the SPLM/SPLA and became the vice-president following the formation of the Government of Southern Sudan as a consequence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement negotiated and signed in Kenya in 2005. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, he became the first vice-president of the newly created country.
James Gatdet Dak who has long been a media aide to Machar graduated in accounting from United States. Gatdet who has worked with several media houses in South Sudan including Sudan Tribune also studied journalisms.
In a Facebook post this morning, Gatdet revealed that he has been approached by well-wishers to aim at studying doctorate and revealed, in the process, that he and Machar were enrolled at an unidentified university prior to the outbreak of war in December 2013.
“It was in 2013 after we [Gatdet and Dr. Riek] were relieved from [vice-president] office that I enrolled for my Master’s degree. I would have finished my Master’s degree program by 2015 (six years ago) had the war not broken out that year in December 2013. I finished only one semester and then left for yet another political struggle,” Gatdet said.
Gatdet who is a member of the opposition SPLM-IO said while Machar – who was then staying at home after his dismissal as vice president following the infamous July 2013 government reshuffle – asked him to enroll the then former vice president at the same university where he was studying for a master’s degree program.
He revealed that lecturers would then come to Machar’s residence for lectures, before that progress – which would have earned the future South Sudan First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader another masters’ degree – would shrank in months as Machar was then forced out of the capital Juba following outbreak of civil war in December 2013.
“…. in the same university I enrolled in, the current First Vice President [Dr. Riek Machar Teny], despite obtaining a PhD already in Strategic Planning in Industry in the UK, asked me to enroll him as well to do another Master’s degree in the field I was too studying,” Gatdet reveals.
“That was encouraging,” he adds. “University lecturers used to come to his residence to give lectures. I believe he would have gone through the courses faster than me and finished his Master’s degree in one year because he had walked that road before. Unfortunately, this got interrupted for both of us at the advent of the war.”