South Sudan’s Opposition leader ready to return to Juba
Posted by Radio Mirada
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, after a peace deal to end Africa’s longest-running civil war.
But a new war in Independent South Sudan broke out in December 2013, after a power struggle between the president and his former vice president, Riek Machar. August 2015, saw a peace deal signed between the opposition and the government to resolve the conflict in South Sudan.
In an exclusive interview with Miraya Breakfast Show host, Sebit William, opposition leader and now first vice President said he is ready to return to Juba to usher the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity.
Radio Miraya; First things first, many people want to know, when do you return to Juba?
Dr Riek Machar: I am on my final preparation to go to Juba, as you know the JMEC has agreed on a minimum number of forces that will go to Juba. before I go there, I am waiting for these forces to be taken to Juba, so am more or less ready, anytime am told that these security arrangement have been done, I will be in Juba.
Radio Miraya; can you tell us why it is taking so long for you to be here in Juba?
Dr Riek Machar: The implementation of the Peace agreement doesn’t start with me being in Juba. It starts with the implementation of the security arrangements; Demilitarizing Juba and then deploying a number of troops as speculated in the agreement. So this has been mainly the delay. Secondly also how do we implement the peace agreement? Do we do that without the constitution or transmit the peace agreement into the constitution? Do we use the peace agreement as the constitution and we embark on the implementation and the constitution will be sorted out once the TGONU is formed? You recall this will be resolved only in the last summit of the AU council of ministers as such we have a road map and that roadmap was adapted by the JMEC and it says; The troops or the phase one of forces of the security arrangement will be done, I go to Juba, the TGONU is formed, the 28 states are suspended and we negotiate for one month and if we don’t agree on the number of states then we resort to the ten states. This is the road map provided by IGAD and this was adapted by JMEC and it was also adapted by the AU peace and Security Council. These are some of the issues that have delayed the implementation of the peace agreement.
Radio Miraya; clearly the issue of the 28 states seems to be the breaker at the moment, do you think this is something that could hinder the implementation Peace agreement?
Dr Riek Machar: Well this is a violation; this is a violation of the agreement. I have stated that many times, IGAD has clearly stated, UN has also stated that and even the road-map provided by the IGAD has clearly stated that this is a violation. They should be suspended and let us negotiate over it whether it should have to resort to the ten or making an appropriate number of states so what is being done is no in the spirit of the agreement.
Radio Miraya: What are your thoughts on the compromise security arrangements by JMEC?
Dr Riek Machar: Well I already made a statement that we accept it provided the rest of the forces will be brought while am in Juba. From my side I said its okay; we want to implement the Peace agreement. The implementation of the peace agreement has stalled for five months. We should do our best to ensure that I’m personally in Juba as you know already we have our advance team led by General Taban for nearly two months in Juba. It’s now time for me to be there.
Radio Miraya: Is it possible that by 01st of March a Government of National unity will be formed?
Dr Riek Machar: Unfortunately, I won’t be in Juba. Don’t get me wrong I want to be in Juba. The timetable is provided by the JMEC. If they had provided the resources, through their partners to take the troops that they have stated, I would even be in Juba and even if the government of national unity is not or has yet to be formed on that day. But if am physically in Juba, It will be formed days later.
Radio Miraya: There has been a lot of mistrust between the opposition and the government. Have you dealt with this?
Dr Riek Machar: my life is not more important than the life of those I have sent to Juba. I sent 309 led by Chief negotiator. The life of each individual among them is valued. They went to Juba in trust that I will go to Juba and therefore I made that statement and said okay you go to. So it is not lack of trust, if I sent 309 lives who are valuable to me and who are leaders in the movement I lead. The life is not more important, it is just assuring that the agreement is respected. Now we made a compromise, like the chair of JMEC said that we have made a compromise plan and this will be done. You know Juba is still militarized, if it is not demilitarized when it will be demilitarized plan. I am implementing and not ignoring the agreement; Demilitarize Juba, bring the agreed troops from both parties .If they are all equally in Juba, this will bring confidence. So this is not lack of trust. I want the agreement implemented. ,it is also expected the number of troops from my side to be deployed in Juba will also get to Juba in such a short time, maybe four days, maybe a week .I want to assure you that it’s not because of mistrust. The people I send to Juba, I trust nothing is going to happen to them.
Radio Miraya; Expectations from the ordinary citizens are high, that your return to Juba will ease the economic situation. Do you really think that your coming to Juba will change anything especially the economic situation?
Dr Riek Machar: I appreciate the expectations of our population our people, they are right, the Government is still spending money on fighting our people in Equatoria, Bar-El gazel and sometimes in Upper Nile .This is unnecessary after all there is a peace agreement there should be no more fighting. The money used in fighting will be reduced to Zero. That will be very very unfortunate. But once the opposition troops return to Juba, the citizens will have a peace of mind and this will have a different effect on the economy and the economy will recover very fast, particularly in the oil sector, The Confidence will be built on people who are assisting us who are now holding their assistance because the Government of National unity is not formed. So it’s going to be a big big boost to our economy you know.
Radio Miraya: so you are actually optimistic that the economy will improve with your coming?
Dr Riek Machar: definitely because it is the war that made the economy deteriorates. If peace has come back and there is no more fighting in the country and we are implementing the agreement, Our Economy should immediately push up.