Saturday, April 23, 2016

Government introduces new demand on Machar’s return to Juba - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

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South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar looks on during an interview at his residence on August 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo AFP /Zacharias Abubeker)Government introduces new demand on Machar’s return to Juba - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan: "April 22, 2016 (JUBA) – In an unexpected move on Friday evening, South Sudanese government has introduced yet another condition for the return to the national capital, Juba, of the first vice-president designate, Riek Machar.

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar looks on during an interview at his residence on August 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo AFP /Zacharias Abubeker)
This came after Friday’s council of ministers meeting during which the government came up with a new resolution demanding to first inspect the agreed weapons to be carried to Juba by the troops of the armed opposition faction led by Machar before his Saturday return to Juba.

The new demand came hours after the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) announced that the government had finally accepted the agreed number of 195 opposition troops to accompany their chief of general staff, Simon Gatwech Dual, who will arrive to Juba ahead of the top opposition leader, Machar.

The government agreed that the opposition troops who would come from Pagak via Gambella airport in Ethiopia would be allowed to bring into Juba 20 PKMs and 20 RPGs in addition to their AK47 rifles.

After the breakthrough was communicated, the opposition faction of the SPLM-IO on Friday also announced that their chief of general staff would therefore arrive in Juba on Saturday morning at 10am with the soldiers and the agreed weapons and that Machar would also arrive hours later at 1pm in the early afternoon on same Saturday.

However, in a new development, information and broadcasting minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, issued a statement after the Friday’s cabinet meeting in the evening in Juba, demanding that a team to verify the agreed weapons will be sent to Gambella first over the weekend to ascertain the types of weapons before the army chief and Machar could travel to Juba.

"All these [weapons] will have to be verified and for them to be verified CTSAMM which is the verification body will send a team of verifiers to Gambella to go and verify the 195 soldiers who are coming plus their individual and plus these 20 PKMs and [20] RPGs," in a statement broadcasted on the state-run South Sudan Television (SSTV).

He revealed that the government only accepted the number of soldiers and the weapons but will not give landing permission to the plane that will carry the troops and the weapons until the team will go to Gambella, verify the weapons and report back to the government.

Lueth further explained it will be thereafter that the team will inform the government again that they have done the verification and based on the expected report of recommendation then the government can issue the clearance for the planes that will bring them.

He also hinted that the arrival of Machar to Juba may be postponed until Monday next week.

"If the team leaves today [Friday] then definitely the team will be there to do the verification and probably by Monday we expect him in Juba," Lueth said.

There are fears in the government that the opposition forces were bringing in to Juba “heavy artilleries, anti-tank weapons and laser-guided missiles” which can destroy tanks and helicopter gunships with precision and hit far targets.

The opposition faction of the SPLM-IO said the government’s new demand was another unnecessary delay for the arrival of the first vice-president designate which indicated that the government was not committed to peace and his return to Juba.

“The weapons have been already verified by the Ethiopian authorities who are now in charge of such weapons at the Gambella airport,’ said James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman of the first vice-president designate.

“There are no missiles there,” he said.

He called on JMEC and other international partners to put pressure on the government to drop the new demand and stop such tactical delays for the formation of the transitional government of national unity.

Earlier, JMEC chairman, Festus Mogoe, said he will not entertain further demands by the parties.

It is not clear whether or not the matter will be resolved so that the soldiers and their agreed weapons travel to Juba and Machar will also arrive on Saturday."

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