South Sudan unity in horizon as parties agree on joint govt

The South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity could be constituted mid next month.

The initial date was November 26, but now, regional leaders and stakeholders in the South Sudan Peace Agreement will meet in Juba next week to set a specific date for the constitution and also officially inaugurate the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).

Led by former Botswana president Festus Mogae, the JMEC will monitor and oversee the implementation of the agreement.

The meeting, under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), was called after both partners to the peace agreement indicated that the constitution of the transitional government could be delayed since the implementation is behind schedule.

READ: Igad now to blame for the delay in implementing South Sudan peace deal

Dr Cirino Hiteng, a member of the former detainees group, told The Eastafrican the GNU can only be formed from mid-December since the government has indicated to Igad that it is not ready to receive  the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) by November 15 as agreed.

Government ‘is ready’

However, South Sudan ambassador to Kenya Mariano Deng said the government has put in place all the components of the implementation of the agreement and is ready for the transitional government anytime. He blamed the lag on the delay in signing of the security arrangements.

The rebels had initially decided to send an aance team of 500 people, led by the movement’s lead negotiator Taban Deng, to prepare the ground for the arrival of their leader, former vice-president Dr Riek Machar, in terms of security arrangements.

The aance party was scheduled to be in Juba on November 15 but the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, requested a delay until November 26 as the government makes arrangements for its accommodation and internal travel.

Mabior Garang de Mabior, the SPLM-IO communications and public relations director, told The EastAfrican that the rebels understand the delay because while implementing a peace agreement, one has to be flexible since what is on paper is different from the situation on the ground.

“We are satisfied with the security arrangements because we have confidence in our soldiers to protect Dr Machar and the implementation of the agreement,” he said.

The security arrangement workshop held in Addis Ababa from October 21 to November 3 agreed that 4,380 troops from both parties will be deployed in Juba while the rest will be cantoned in various camps within a radius of 25 kilometres.

The government will have 650 presidential guards, 250 band and ceremonial girds, 700 administrative battalion, a 700-strong logistic battalion, 700 for shared unified command, 300 military police and 120 national security service cadres, bringing the total to 3,420 troops.

The SPLM-IO, on the other hand, will have a total of 1,410 troops — 350 to guard rebel leader Dr Machar, 50 for the administrative battalion, 140 for the logistical battalion, 620 guards for unified command, 200 military police and 50 for the national security service.

The parties also agreed to deploy 3,000 joint integrated police, 1,500 from each side, and 400 troops each to Bor, Malakal and Bentiu towns.

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However, political parties are yet to sign the Compromise Peace Agreement on South Sudan due to differences on who should lead them.

Both the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), Dr Lam Akol, and the Minister for Cabinet Affairs Dr Alia Lemoro, who heads the Forum for Democracy Party but is in collaboration with the government, claim to be representing the interests of political parties.