South Sudan: Machar to Arrive in Juba 18 April
South Sudan’s returning First Vice President Riek Machar will arrive in Juba on 18 April, his press secretary has announced.
His return should mark the beginning of South Sudanese leaders establishing a transitional government in the country and finally implementing a peace deal signed in August last year.
Transitional government further delayed
Hopes for peace in South Sudan were reignited in February when President Slava Kiir announced rival Machar would retake the position of First Vice President. Almost two months have passed since the announcement was made, however Machar is yet to return to Juba and start the process of establishing a transitional government.
Complications have delayed his return, but the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) released a proposal on Monday saying Machar would return on 12 April. The same proposal suggested the country’s transitional government would then be established two days later on 14 April.
Machar sets 18 April return
Spokesperson for Machar’s armed opposition group, James Gatdet Dak, confirmed his party had received the proposal letter from the JMEC on 5 April. However, the dates suggested by JMEC chairman, President Festus Mogae, were never an option for Machar, according to Dak.
“First Vice President designate, His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar will not arrive in Juba on 12th April as initially proposed by JMEC,” Dak told Sudan Tribune. “This is not workable. His arrival is programmed to be on the 18th of April,” he added.
The spokesperson also confirmed that JMEC Chairman Mogae has been included in discussions confirming a return date for Machar. Dak also said Machar praised the role of the JMEC in aiding the transportation of Machar’s troops into Juba, prior to his arrival.
The organisation has said 1,370 armed troops will arrive in the capital on Friday, while a further 1,500 are expected to join Machar and his forces at a later date.