February 23, 2016 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government and its armed opposition faction have agreed to form an interim government in the first week of March, an official said.
Information and broadcasting minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, announced the deal on Tuesday at the end of a meeting in the national capital, Juba, which was attended by representatives of President Salva Kiir’s government and armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by the First Vice President designate, Riek Machar.
“We have agreed to establish the transitional government of national unity by the first week of March despite the [issue] of 28 states, despite the absence of the constitution,” said Makuei, speaking to reporters after the meeting converged by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), a body overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement.
President Kiir expanded the country to 28 states from 10 in October 2015, two months after signing the peace agreement to end 21 months of conflict in the country. Machar was appointed the first vice president early this month in accordance with the peace deal but has declined to come to the capital Juba until the security arrangements are implemented at least in Juba.
Minister Makuei said the SPLA forces in Juba have been moved out as agreed and 1,370 opposition forces will be transported to Juba by the end of February so that Machar returns to Juba and form a transitional government with President Kiir during the first week of March.
He said the disagreement over 28 states and the amendment and writing of the new constitution is left for the interim government to handle.
“We said these issues will be discussed and resolved by transitional government of national unity,” he added.
“We have agreed with the SPLM/A IO and our partners and donors now. The partners and donors will transport [to Juba] the SPLA IO forces of 1,370 before the end of this month so that by the first week of March Dr. Riek Machar comes in and the transitional government of national unity established,” he said.
Makuei said he is more confident that the peace deal is being fully implemented.
“We are optimistic and we hope that our donors who have committed themselves will abide by and implement their commitment so that the peace, the TGONU is established in time,” he added.
The 1,370 opposition force is said to be enough to warrant the return of Machar to Juba once it is airlifted by the end of February. The remaining force of over 1,500 will be transported by river.