January 6, 2016 (JUBA) – A meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), a body established to oversee and monitor the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015 between warring parties in South Sudan, could not take place on Wednesday for selection of ministerial portfolios as announced earlier.
There are conflicting explanations as to why the long awaited exercise failed to take place per schedule earlier announced by JMEC leadership.
Opposition faction of the armed Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by former vice-president, and first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, said consultations between the parties began on Wednesday but blamed the delay of JMEC meeting on the absence of its chairman, Festus Mogae.
“Yes, JMEC could not hold a meeting today [Wednesday]. President Festus Mogae, who chairs the body, could not arrive in Juba on time on Wednesday,” Opposition leader’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
He said the former president of Botswana however arrived in the evening in Juba and a meeting is expected to take place on Thursday.
However, other sources from President Salva Kiir’s government who are close to the selection process of the national ministerial positions told Sudan Tribune that the parties agreed to abandon the provision of the peace agreement which based the selection on rotations and wanted to negotiate on the portfolios as a give and take.
He said the government was not willing to forfeit the national ministry of defense as a sovereign nation and would not allow opposition parties to select it.
The peace deal stipulated that the government will take unidentified 16 cabinet positions, SPLM-IO, 10, former detainees, 2 and other political parties, 2. This would be done on rotational basis in which the government will pick its first selection choice from any of the three ministerial clusters of governance, security and services.
SPLM-IO and others would follow in such a sequence until each party gets its quota in the executive power sharing arrangement.
JMEC chairman, Mogae, who was supposed to supervise the selection process on Wednesday, was not present due to reports that his plane got stranded at Jommo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi allegedly because of Juba airport workers strike which prevented planes from landing in the airport.