July 25, 2024
Riek Machar

After a weeklong delay, South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar is expected in the capital Juba Tuesday afternoon after United Nations offered to airlift him from Gambela in southern Ethiopia.

The UN stepped in after the United States on Monday infuriated by his missing an April 23 deadline set by regional body, Igad, to return to Juba to form a unity government with his arch rival President Salva Kiir, withdrew its funding and chartered plane for Machar’s transport.

Adel Sandrai, Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) Member of Parliament told The EastAfrican that Machar will arrive in Juba Tuesday and will be sworn-in as the first vice president with the Transitional Government of National Unity expected to be formed on Wednesday.

Prior to the announcement for withdrawal of support, the US State Department spokesperson John Kirbi, said that the scope of future engagement in helping South Sudan confront the country’s security, economic and development challenges, however, will depend on the parties demonstrating commitment to work together to implement the agreement.

Dr Machar was due to arrive in Juba on April 18 but delayed his return over wrangles with the government on the weaponry he wanted to return with. The government later back down allowing Machar to return with sophisticated weapons such as laser-guided and anti-tank missiles.

SPLM-IO chief of staff Gen Simon Gatwech Dual arrived in Juba on Monday with 195 soldiers and their weapons. Gen Dual —who had to travel ahead of Dr Machar to take charge of SPLM forces in Juba— had been stranded in Gambela for over a week as he awaited clearance.

Machar is expected to hold consultations with President Kiir in readiness for the formation of the unity government.

According to the agreement signed in August last year, President Kiir will pick 16 cabinet ministers, SPLM-IO will have 10 ministerial slot while the former detainees and other political parties each have two for the 30-member cabinet.

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