First Vice President Taban Deng Gai
Taban Deng Gai has served as the First Vice President of South Sudan since 2016. Previously he was the Minister of Mining and the Governor of the Unity province, a position he held before and after South Sudan’s independence in 2011.
Like Riek Machar before him, whose wife he defeated in a disputed gubernatorial election, First Vice President Deng hails from the Nuer ethnic community, South Sudan’s influential and 2nd largest ethnic community. As such, his position as Vice President is seen as a gesture of national unity between the Dinka and Nuer communities, between whom there has been significant political and military conflict historically.
Vice President Deng is regarded inside and outside South Sudan as a pragmatist and calming influence, consistently calling for the patience needed to achieve peace. He is also an outspoken supporter of the National Dialogue. Like President Kiir, First Vice President Deng has no official role in the organizing body of the National Dialogue but he is viewed as a key stakeholder because of his deep ties to the Nuer community, his relationship to Riek Machar, and his ties to the broad array of opposition groups.