ADDIS ABABA (HAN) April 7. 2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. South Sudan’s First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, said he will arrive in the national capital, Juba, on 18 April, 6 days after the initial 12 April arrival proposal by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), his press secretary has confirmed.
Earlier on Monday, JMEC released a proposed timetable, saying Machar would arrive in Juba on 12 April and a cabinet for the long awaited transitional government of national unity would be formed on 14 April.
However, James Gatdet Dak, spokesperson of the armed opposition leader of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), explained that the top leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) will rather arrive on 18 April.
Dak said Machar on 5 April received a letter from the JMEC chairperson, President Festus Mogae, proposing the 12 April arrival to Juba of the opposition’s top leader.
He also said the confirmed 18 April date has been already communicated to the chairperson of JMEC in response to the initial proposed date.
“First Vice President designate, His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar will not arrive in Juba on 12th April as initially proposed by JMEC. This is not workable. His arrival is programmed to be on the 18th of April,” Dak told Sudan Tribune when asked to confirm whether or not Machar would return to Juba on 12 April.
“The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/SPLA (IO) has today, 6th April, written a letter to the JMEC Chairperson, His Excellency President Festus Mogae, noting the slight delay and confirming the 18th April as the date for his arrival in Juba,” he added.
He further explained that the opposition’s leadership was putting some “final touches” on the arrangements for his return to the national capital after two years in his General Headquarters of Pagak in Upper Nile state.
Dak said Machar appreciated and commended the role JMEC has played by ensuring the transportation of the opposition forces to Juba in accordance with the transitional security arrangements for the capital.
He added the leadership expected the rest of the opposition forces and their ammunition or other weapons to be airlifted to Juba by the weekend as outlined in the JMEC timetable.
Although JMEC has not completed the transportation of the opposition forces as required for the return of the SPLM-IO’s top leader, it said all the 1,370 troops and other weapons such as PKMs and RPGs will be in Juba by Friday.
Another force of 1,500 of the opposition will also begin to move to Juba by land or by river with their heavy weapons, to make the overall opposition’s force in Juba to total 2,910 in number as agreed in the security arrangements.
President Salva Kiir’s government will also deploy about 5,000 of combined police and military forces as part of the joint integrated forces in the capital.
Also, JMEC, according to the peace agreement, will have to verify whether or not Juba has been demilitarized and government’s excess forces have been withdrawn to 25km away.
The opposition leader’s press secretary added that Machar is eager to soon return to Juba and form a transitional government of national unity with President Salva Kiir.
The transitional unity government is seen as the only hope for restoring peace and stability in the country through the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.