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South Sudan Looks to UN Chief’s Visit This Week

  • James Butty

FILE - A World Food Program (WFP) truck backs up to load food items from a recently landed UN helicopter, in Yida camp, South Sudan. Ban's visit comes as implementation of the peace agreement signed last August between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, is proceeding only slowly. 

FILE - A World Food Program (WFP) truck backs up to load food items from a recently landed UN helicopter, in Yida camp, South Sudan. Ban's visit comes as implementation of the peace agreement signed last August between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, is proceeding only slowly. 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due in the South Sudan capital, Juba, Thursday, his second visit since the country gained its independence in 2011.

Ban's visit comes as implementation of the peace agreement signed last August between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, is proceeding only slowly.

Machar has reportedly said he will only travel to Juba to form a national unity government when nearly 3,000 of his troops and police are in the capital, with a further 1,200 police deployed to Bor, Malakal and Bentiu.

South Sudan's information minister, Michael Makuei, said “We will inform the secretary-general on the effort being exerted by the government of the Republic of South Sudan in the implementation of the agreement up to this moment. Number two, we will inform him about the role of the UNMISS (United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan) and what they are doing,” he said.

Former Botswana president Festus Mogae, who is chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission - the head of an international group monitoring South Sudan's peace process - told the U.N. Security Council last Friday he will propose security arrangements to spur the return of rebel leader Machar as vice president.

Mogae said the return of Machar is a critical step to launching a national unity government that would eventually deal with South Sudan’s rising violence and "humanitarian catastrophe."

FILE - This photo taken Jan. 19, 2016 shows displaced people walking next to a razor wire fence at the United Nations base in the capital Juba, South Sudan.

FILE - This photo taken Jan. 19, 2016 shows displaced people walking next to a razor wire fence at the United Nations base in the capital Juba, South Sudan.

Information Minister Makuei said “The government of the Republic of South Sudan highly welcomes the visit of the Secretary General because this is where he will get the real facts on the ground. It seems very clear he is expressing his disappointment but it seems it’s not clear to him who is responsible for the delay in the implementation of the agreement."

Makuei said another condition being made by Machar is there must be conducive atmosphere in Juba before his return to the capital. But Makuei said Machar is not the one to determine when conditions are conducive there.

Botswana's Mogae told the U.N. Security Council a deadly attack last week on a U.N. peacekeeping compound where civilians had taken refuge in Malakal, the capital of oil-producing Upper Nile state, demonstrated the continuing violence in South Sudan.

He also pointed to a worrying escalation of fighting in Western Bahr El Ghazal and Western Equatoria.

Mogae said the large deployment being requested by Machar does not comply with a prior agreement on security arrangements.

"I plan to offer a compromise proposal on security arrangements for Juba sufficient to ensure security for Dr. Machar to return, and which would consequently allow for the formation of the transitional government," Mogae said.

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