April 24, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, has confirmed to arrive in the national capital, Juba, on Monday after two years in the bush and abroad.
Machar who leads the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) fled Juba in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused him of allegedly planning a coup, an accusation he dismissed as a ploy to silence voices of political opponents.
The confirmation that he will travel to Juba on Monday came after the South Sudanese government finally announced it had accepted that the top opposition leader and his chief of general staff, Simon Gatwech Dual, and 195 troops and their weapons be airlifted to Juba on Monday.
The government on Saturday issued permission for landing of the aircrafts that will carry Machar from Pagak, his General Headquarters via Gambella airport across the border in Ethiopia together with accompanying delegation.
The top opposition leader’s press secretary said it is confirmed that Machar will travel to Juba on Monday.
“Dr. Machar will travel to Juba on Monday, April 25, 2016. He has confirmed that he will travel on Monday,” James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
He blamed the delays on the government for refusing to grant planes’ landing permission to transport the opposition leader and his forces.
The two leaders signed a peace agreement in August 2015 to end the 21 months of the civil war, and to form a transitional government. Machar has however not yet returned to Juba after 8 months from the signing of the peace deal. Many schedules have been cancelled.
Machar’s spokesperson said the chief of general staff of the SPLA-IO army, Dual, and the troops plus their weapons will also arrive in Juba on Monday.
Dak said the leadership of the opposition faction of the SPLM-IO has called on all the residents in Juba to turn out on Monday at the airport for the reception of the first vice-president designate.
“We call on the people, the residents in Juba, to come out in big numbers on Monday morning for the reception of the First Vice-President designate,” Dak announced.
Machar, according to the schedule, will immediately take oath of office to take up his post as first vice president upon arrival.
He will straight from the Juba airport drive to the Presidential Palace (J1) for the swearing in ceremony after which he is expected to hold a brief meeting with President Salva Kiir. He will thereafter go to the mausoleum of late John Garang de Mabior to pay his respect and retire to his residential area at Jebel Kujur, also popularly known as Pagak 2, where his forces are stationed.
Dak said the leadership has called on the government to allow the people to move freely to the airport for the reception of the top opposition leader.
Machar on Tuesday is expected to make consultations with his officials and with President Kiir on the long-awaited formation of the transitional government of national unity in which the government will have 16 national ministers in the new cabinet, SPLM-IO will 10 and other political parties and former detainees will have 4 ministers, 2 each.
In accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement which ended 21 months of civil war, the opposition leader will also be the commander-in-chief of a separate army and police, with separate structures from the other army and police commanded by President Kiir.
The two rival national armies and police forces will however reunify during the transitional period after achieving security sector reforms laid out in the peace agreement.
The transitional government will run the country for 30 months from formation until elections are conducted at the end of the interim period.