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President Kiir prefers forming new government before SPLM-IO forces arrive in Juba

February 15, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, has preferred to form a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) before arrival in Juba units of the joint forces of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by the newly appointed First Vice President, Riek Machar.

President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Jok Solomon)

A high profile official of President Kiir’s government told Sudan Tribune that representatives of the other opposition parties to the peace agreement signed in August last year were called for consultations by the president on his desire to form the government within a week before implementation of the security arrangements in the capital, Juba.

“We met the president on Thursday last week and the impression I got from our meeting with him was a clear indication he wants to form a new government without SPLM-IO forces,” the source told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

The President, he said, did not get support from the leaders of the opposition parties in his premature plan to form the government without the opposition forces in the capital, but in that evening he decided to appoint Machar.

“He [Kiir] asked the opinion of the leaders of the stakeholders before he came out with the decision to appoint Riek Machar that same day when he later found out they were not supportive of his view,” he recalled.

He further recalled that the leader of the Democratic Change (DC), Lam Akol, who also chairs a national alliance of 18 opposition political parties in the country, challenged President Kiir in the meeting that it was not the right way to form a government without the security arrangements being implemented first in Juba.

Representatives of the SPLM-IO were not represented in the consultative meeting with the President, and it was not clear why they were not present.

The state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) last Thursday broadcast footage of the meeting with the president showing former cabinet affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol and former justice minister, John Luk Jok, who are members of former detainees as well as the current cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro from opposition parties allied to the government. Lam Akol also participated in the meeting.

The peace agreement which ends 21 months of war stipulates that a joint force from the rival armies and police should be deployed first before a new government can be formed after return of the armed opposition leader, Machar.

The president however gave 7 days of ultimatum for Machar to return to Juba and form a unity government with him.

However, Machar said he would return only when the security arrangements are implemented at least in Juba, calling on the international community to transport his forces soon so that he also returns.

The United Kingdom has offered to transport the opposition forces, but it is not clear how long it will take for them to deploy in Juba and whether President Kiir will put on hold his plan to rush the formation of the government.

(ST)