27 February 2016

South Sudan: Machar 'Men' Head to Juba

Photo: Voxcom/IRIN
Dr Riek Machar (file photo)

Norway has offered to transport 1,370 of Dr Riek Machar's security personnel to Juba by March 1, paving the way for the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

This offer comes as President Salva Kiir agreed on Tuesday to withdraw thousands of troops and "excess" presidential guards from Juba as part of the demilitarisation of the capital according to the August 2015 peace agreement.

According to the security arrangements agreed on between the government of South Sudan and the Machar-led Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) who are the two partners under the leadership of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) led by Festus Mogae, the SPLM-IO is entitled to send 1,410 military personnel and 1,500 police to Juba, to make a contribution of 2,910 security personnel.

They will be part of the transitional government's 5,000 military personnel and 1,500 presidential guards.

In an agreement struck earlier in the week at a meeting called by Mr Mogae, the remaining number of opposition troops will arrive in Juba only after the formation of the transitional government of national unity.

The remainder of the SPLM-IO troops to make up the total of 2,910 will be arranged by the transitional government once it is formed by mid-March. But their weapons will be delivered separately as the Troika -- Norway, the UK and the US -- who are providing the funds, are uncomfortable transporting armed personnel.

The SPLM-IO representative in Kenya Lam Jok told The EastAfrican that the rebel movement can work with the 1,370 security personnel and Dr Machar will make quick arrangements to travel to Juba once the troops are in position.

"We welcome the move to transport our troops to Juba because we were facing a lot of logistical problems. Once the troops are in Juba, then Dr Machar will travel back to the country to enable the partners in the peace agreement to fasttrack the formation of the transitional government," said Mr Jok.

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