South Sudan: Deal Agreed to Bring Machar to Juba
South Sudan’s government has accepted a proposal by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) that will bring rebel leader Riek Machar back to the capital.Machar’s return to Juba has been held up by various stumbling blocks regarding the number of troops and weaponry allowed to be brought in by the opposition leader and his forces. However, the JMEC announced late on Friday that a deal had been reached after it set an ultimatum deadline for Saturday.
JMEC proposal accepted
The announcement by the JMEC came a day after the country’s minister of information and broadcasting said the proposal had been rejected. Michael Makuei Lueth announced on Thursday that the government had “not accepted the proposal”.
No government statement followed Lueth’s comments to confirm or deny them. However, dialogue from armed opposition group SPLM-IO suggested the government had indeed refused to accept the terms of the JMEC proposal.
The organisation then moved to give the South Sudanese government and Riek Machar’s rebel group a deadline of Saturday to strike a deal. That deadline was never reached, though, as the JMEC announced late on Friday that the South Sudanese had agreed to the initial proposal.
Machar expected in Juba Monday
Riek Machar is now expected to arrive in Juba on Monday – a full week after he was scheduled to return. However, government spokesman Lueth has warned Machar’s weapons and troops must be verified before he can arrive in Juba.
The deal says Machar can bring an additional 195 troops with him, plus 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 20 PKM machine guns.
Lueth also hinted the government will not tolerate any further delays or failure by Machar’s side to cooperate by the terms of their latest agreement.
“We expect Dr Riek Machar to move in soon as possible together with [the] general chief of staff. Any delay the day after the government will not be ready for it. Any further conditions will not, and I repeat, will not [be considered] by the government of South Sudan,” he said.