South Sudan: Machar in Pagak Ahead of Juba Return

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South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar is in Pagak, in the east of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, ahead of his much-anticipated return to Juba.

The vice president’s spokesperson confirmed Machar is in Pagak making preparations to travel to the capital on April 18. However, he also added that Machar’s arrival in Juba depends on progress made in the capital ahead of his scheduled return.

 

Return not confirmed yet

Machar’s return to Juba has been held up by various setbacks which continue to delay the process of establishing a transitional government in South Sudan. The revised government is a key element of the nation’s peace deal that has, so far, failed to end conflict in the country.

More than 1,300 of Machar’s armed troops have arrived in Juba ahead of his return with more expected to follow. However, it’s the demilitarisation of the South Sudanese capital that now stands in the way of Machar travelling to Juba, according to Sudan Tribune.

 

Further stumbling blocks

Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak, has also mentioned further stumbling blocks that could hold up Machar’s return to Juba. Firstly, the government has refused to allow Machar to take the oath of office upon his arrival – a move prompting Dak to question the motives of President Salva Kiir and the government.

Dak also points to the government refusing to allow a public rally for Machar so he can address the nation upon his arrival and assure them of plans to implement the country’s fractured peace deal. The vice persident’s spokesman has also accused the government of arresting and detaining officials in Juba, including media personnel who made the arrival of Machar’s deputy on Tuesday public.

These “serious concerns” need to be addressed, according to Dak, which suggests Machar’s scheduled April 18 return isn’t quite set in stone.