FACE TO FACE, Machar, Kiir to continue talks

By Jale Richard and Manyuon Mayen

Opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar, will stay in Juba for the next few days to continue talks with President Salva Kiir on how to expedite the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

Yesterday at the State House in Juba, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader discussed with President Kiir pending tasks in the security arrangements of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

After the closed-door meeting that lasted for just over two hours, Henry Odwar, the Deputy Chairperson of the SPLM-IO told reporters that the meeting will continue for the next two to three days to allow the two principals find level ground that would lead to the formation of the unity government as planned in November.

“Dr. Riek Machar’s arrival in Juba is a sign of commitment to peace,” Odwar said.  “This (last) evening, our meeting concentrated on the security arrangement because it is one of the fundamental provisions of the peace agreement.”

He added, “We deliberated on how we can fast-track so that the necessary process of 83,000 forces will be realized before the 11th of November. Yes we do have challenges but we pray that we overcome those challenges.”

Meanwhile in a sideline interview, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, the secretary of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) said the parties made miles of positive things towards the formation of the unified forces.

“Dr. Machar’s visit indicates that we are all ready for peace, no going to war,” Lomuro said.

“The cantonment is progressing very well. We have 20 cantonment sites in progress. Forces are being screened and they are being registered. As soon as this group is screened and divided into army, national security and police so that we produce 83,000.” he added.

Dr. Lomuro further stated that the issues related to the number of states, protection and other pending tasks will be discussed by the two leaders today.

The much-anticipated face-to-face meeting took place after months of unsuccessful attempts by the regional trade and security bloc- the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Dr. Machar who is based in Khartoum where his movements are reportedly restricted, had wanted a meeting away from Juba raising concerns over his security. But the government insisted on a meeting in Juba.

To break the disagreement over the meeting venue, the Deputy of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo accompanied Dr. Machar to Juba in order to see the formation of the unity government in November.

President Kiir just last week reiterated that the unity government, where Dr. Machar will serve as the First Vice President, will be formed in the few coming months.

According to parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the Revitalized Government of National Unity shall be formed on November 12.

But even after extension of the initial pre-transitional period in May, implementation of some aspects of the security arrangement before the formation of the government of national unity remained challenging.

These arrangements include the cantonment, training, unification and deployment of forces across the country.

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