President Salva Kiir has accepted that SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar will be sworn in as vice president on 18 April, the same day as his return to Juba, according to JMEC Chairman Festus Mogae, who met with Kiir on Thursday.
Machar is due to become first vice president – a newly created position – under the terms of the peace deal signed in August 2015. His return from exile has been long delayed, however, owing to delays in the security arrangements.
On Thursday in Juba, Festus Mogae, the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), spoke before cameras of the state-run SSTV after his meeting with President Kiir. Both Mogae and government chief negotiator Nhial Deng, who stood alongside him, confirmed that Kiir has agreed to the swearing-in on 18 April.
Previously, the government had not agreed to a request by the SPLM-IO that Machar be sworn in on the same day as his arrival, nor did they want a rally of any kind celebrating his arrival.
Under the terms of an apparent compromise deal between the government and SPLM-IO, Machar will now be sworn in on 18 April but no “peace rally” or other popular rally of any kind will be held.
Several citizens were reportedly arrested on Tuesday for showing too much exuberence upon the arrival of SPLM-IO Deputy Chairman Alfred Lado Gore.
Nyarji Roman, deputy spokesman in Machar’s office, confirmed the new arrangements for Machar’s return in an email Thursday. He said that the vice president designate will arrive at Juba Airport at 1 p.m., where he will make a press statement but not take any media questions.
Machar will then go to the “J1” palace to meet President Kiir and take the oath of office which will be attended by President Festus Mogae of JMEC, President Oumar Alpha Konare of the African Union, and the diplomatic corps.
He will then proceed to the residence set up for him in the Jebel area of Juba. “No peace rally or public rally on April 18, 2016,” Nyarji confirmed.
Meanwhile, however, SPLM-IO officials on Thursday also complained that Juba has not yet been demilitarized according to the terms of the peace deal and they reported that the National Security Service arrested dozens of their supporters.
Taban Deng, head of the SPLM-IO Advance Team, issued a statement accusing the government of “disinterest in the implementation of the peace agreement.” He released a list of 41 name of people whom he says were detained by the security service or the military in Juba and Aweil “their only crime is that they are SPLM/SPLA (IO) supporters.”
SPLA, meanwhile, have announced that they have completed partial demilitarization of Juba according to the peace deal. The spokesman of the army took journalists on Thursday to a new camp site outside the city to show them troops recently withdrawn from the capital.
However, the demilitarization of the city has not been verified yet by the ceasefire monitoring body CTSAMM, which falls under JMEC.