South Sudan’s Machar Sets New Conditions For Return

The SPLM in Opposition has laid new conditions to be fulfilled before Dr Riek Machar returns to Juba to take up his position as the First Vice President.

Dr Machar is expected in Juba next Monday. However, according to Juba Based Eye Radio, his spokesman James Gatdet says Machar will not come to Juba as scheduled unless the JMEC confirms that Juba is demilitarized.

According to the security arrangements under the peace agreement, only 3,420 government troops should remain in Juba during the transitional period while the rest have to be deployed 25 kilometers outside Juba.

The opposition says this redeployment must first be confirmed by JMEC before Dr Riek arrives in Juba.

According to a schedule released by the government, Dr Machar will be sworn in a day after arrival.

The opposition wants him to take oath immediately and address a public rally.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has asked the South Sudanese government to end arbitrary detentions by the intelligence agency.

The call comes two days before opposition leader Riek Machar is due to return to the capital Juba as part of a peace deal requiring the parties to the conflict to form a national unity government.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa and the Great Lakes says they have compiled a list of 35 men arbitrarily detained by the National Security Service at its headquarters in the Jebel neighbourhood of Juba.

Some of the detainees have been held for close to two years, without access to lawyers and with very limited access to their families and the outside world.

Jackson says the list, published as part of a briefing, includes a former state governor, a 65-year-old university professor, a Ugandan aid worker and a journalist employed by UN-run Radio Miraya.

Story By Catherine Ageno