Various Sources, APR/23/2016, SSN;
Finally, the Kiir’s government has just surprisingly given clearance for Machar’s return, announced the security chief in Juba, questionably blaming the delay due to some mysterious so-called “on-going maintenance at Juba International Airport on weekends & delay by note verbale from Ethiopian Embassy, the two Diplomatic aircrafts will only land on Monday 25/04/2016.”
South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar had once again missed the deadline to return to Juba over what his aides blamed on new demands by President Salva Kiir’s government.
The language used in the landing permit however did not mention the agreed 195 troops of the SPLA-IO, their weapons and the coming of the chief of general staff ahead of Riek Machar.
It is however thought that the “accompanying delegation” mentioned in the clearance would encompass both military and civilian personnel who will accompany Machar
A new date for his return has been set for Monday, according to Machar’s spokesman Machar James Gatdet Dak.
“The government denied him landing. He has been waiting at the airport the whole day. We have just received word from the government that we wait until Monday,” Dak told the Sunday Nation.
Earlier, there were reports that the government insisted on verifying the identity of 195 troops who were to accompany the rebel leader.
The government also insisted on verifying the weapons at Gambela Airport in Ethiopia before granting permission to land in Juba.
It is not clear whether the said verification will be completed before Monday, the day scheduled for the return of the top leader of the SPLM-IO.
Earlier, officials of the opposition faction said the weapons verification had already been done by the Ethiopian authorities.
KIIR GOVERNMENT BLOCKS MACHAR’S RETURN:
A senior government official this morning said that there was no reception planned for Machar today, also reiterating that they wanted ceasefire monitors to first go to Gambella to check the weapons that Machar would be bringing with him.
Minister of Information Michael Makuei said after a cabinet meeting yesterday, “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 weapons and plus these 20 PKMs and RPGs.”
The Joint Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (JMEC) had originally proposed that its ceasefire monitors (CTSAMM) carry out this task.
“It is thereafter that team will inform the government that they have done verification and based on that recommendation the government will issue the necessary clearance for the planes that will bring them,” Makuei added.
The minister said that the government expected Machar in Juba “probably Monday.”
“We expect Dr Riek Machar to move in soon as possible together with 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 accepted by the government of South Sudan,” he said
“If the [ceasefire monitoring] team leaves today then definitely the team will be there to do the verification and probably by Monday we expect him in Juba,” Makuei further added.
Analysts say contentious details of the peace agreement signed last August could be the cause of the delays in forming the transitional government.
The stalemate, however, only tells half the story. Long before the deal, officially known as Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the government and rebels had signed seven peace agreements since fighting broke out between factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in December 2013.
All of them were broken within hours with each side accusing the other of violation.
When the agreement was signed, fighting resumed two days later. It has never been clear who fired the first shot but clashes took place in Central Equatoria State and oil-rich northeastern Upper Nile State where a battle for the control of Malakal Town flared. Many civilians and aid workers died.
More than 50,000 people have been killed and about two million others displaced since the conflict started, according to the UN. Other relief agencies give higher figures.
The current deal was nearly missed when rebels accused the government of changing details in the draft.
The initial draft provided for power-sharing only at national level.
In fact, it proposed for the country’s transitional security arrangements to be handled by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development regional bloc. These were opposed by rebels.
Igad mediators realised the problem and changed the document to allow transitional power sharing at all levels. Still, President Kiir signed it “with reservations.”
In changing drafts to suit parties’ demands, some experts think mediators may have made it difficult to implement it.
“The fact that the implementation is going through hurdles is telling,” Steve Paterno, a conflict research consultant from South Sudan told the Sunday Nation.
“The deal is impractical. Both armed parties acknowledge this. The government says it has reservations. In the words of Riek Machar, it is a bad agreement.”
When Igad proposed that regional armies be in Juba during the transitional period, Machar’s side said the country should not be in the hands of foreigners.
The final document establishes 30 ministerial posts, with Kiir’s side taking 53 per cent, Machar having 33 per cent, seven per cent for political detainees and another seven for other groups.
At local governance level in clash-torn states, rebels would have the majority stake (53 per cent) while Kiir’s party would have 33.
A Kenyan diplomat who handles South Sudan affairs said on Friday that Igad was just looking at a way of accommodating everyone.
“Neither was willing to compromise and it was clear everyone was looking at remaining in government,” the diplomat said.
“By having a temporary government, mediators felt it would allow for the country to get a permanent solution.”
This arrangement is to last 30 months from the date of creation after which there will be elections.
But the Igad deal created two commanders-in-chief and two armies as the leaders worked on a unification programme.
The fact that regional power-sharing is pegged on where each side controls partly explains why fighting resumed after the agreement was signed.
Both sides defend the arrangement, saying it is only temporary.
“This is what we agreed on because we knew it was workable. Each of us has created a structure and the police will have a joint training,” Machar’s spokesman Dak told the Sunday Nation.