April 7, 2016 (JUBA) – Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, who chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), has expressed his wish and willingness to help facilitate the first meeting between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the leader of the armed Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), following his expected arrival to Juba on 18 April.
JMEC is a body which oversees the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan which the rival parties signed in August 2015 to end more than 21 months of civil war in the country.
Mogae, according to a 5 April, 2016, letter which he wrote to Machar, initially proposing 12 April date for his arrival to the national capital, Juba, said he was prepared to facilitate the arrangement of the first meeting between the two rival top leaders on the same day following his arrival.
President Kiir and his former deputy, Machar, who becomes First Vice President in accordance with the peace agreement, have not met since the signing of the deal 8 months ago.
However, in the letter directed to Machar, President Mogae said he was willing to organize their first meeting before forming a transitional government of national unity which will run the country for 30 months prior to elections.
“Your Excellency, I am prepared, should you wish to facilitate the first meeting between yourself and President Kiir, and would suggest this could be arranged on the afternoon of your arrival. I look forward to meeting you in Juba,” partly reads the letter signed by the JMEC chairman, Mogae, which copy was extended to Sudan Tribune.
The former Botswana president revealed that the transportation of a last batch of the armed opposition forces, which was agreed to be airlifted to Juba from areas under their control, would be completed by Friday 8 April, 2016 and their weapons would subsequently be delivered by the government of Ethiopia the following day on Saturday, 9 April.
“As of the evening of 4 April, 650 of the SPLM/A (In Opposition) troops and police have been transported to Juba. A further 220 are due to arrive today (Tuesday 5th April, 2016). We expect to transport the remaining 500 by 8 April. The transport of the SPLM/A (In opposition) weapons by the government of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will also be complete by Saturday 9th,” the letter reads.
It explained that the transportation of a total of 1,370 troops will be completed to pave the way for the return of the First Vice President designate to Juba where he and president Kiir are expected to form the transitional government of national unity later this month.
Machar in a letter of response to the JMEC’s chairman has confirmed that he will travel to Juba on 18 April to subsequently form the new unity government with President Kiir.