JUBA – The office of South Sudan’s First Vice President has said that it has not yet received any new communication from Ugandan authorities regarding the organization of a peace retreat that would bring together FVP Dr. Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In December last year, both Kiir and Machar’s offices confirmed that they had received invitations from the Ugandan government for a peace retreat that aimed at discussing the stalled implementation process of the revitalized peace agreement.
“His Excellency President Museveni sent invitation to His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The First Vice President has also received an invitation. The invitations are for a retreat which will be in Uganda. Arrangements are being made,” presidential affairs minister Marial Benjamin said in February.
Last week, a senior government official said the meeting has failed due to fears from President Salva Kiir Mayardit that First Vice President Machar may not return to the country.
“When we were informed, we accepted the invitation and we were preparing for a team to travel along with the FVP to Uganda so as to attend that very important meeting to iron out issues to do with the transitional period,” the official said.
“But because of the insistence by President Salva Kiir Mayardit that Dr. Riek should only delegate officials to the meeting over fears that he may not return home has failed that initiative which would have paved way for clear path towards the end of the transitional period,” he added.
But speaking to Sudans Post this afternoon, Acting Press Secretary in the Office of the First Vice President Puok Both Baluang said that they haven’t yet received any new communication from the Ugandan authorities regarding the delayed peace retreat.
“The last communication we heard from the Ugandan embassy in Juba is that the Uganda peace retreat between the parties to the revitalized peace agreement has been postponed for preparatory reasons and we haven’t heard from them again,” he said.
As the country close in on the transitional period, the parties to the agreement have – as of recent – been giving conflicting statements as to whether the world’s youngest country will go to elections at the end of the transitional period in 2023 as provided for in the 2018 peace deal.
The ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Government (SPLM-IG) under Kiir has made it clear that polls will take place in 2023 with or without the consent of prominent opposition groups such as the SPLM-IO and the National Democratic Movement (NDM).
While the SPLM-IO and the NDM blames the delays in the implementation process of the provisions of the agreement on lack of political will from the SPLM-IG, Kiir’s group says international pressure in the form of sanctions and arms embargo is behind the delay to form the unified forces.
The SPLM-IO and the NDM have expressed their unwillingness to participate in any electoral process until when all crucial provisions such as the unification of forces is completed as provided for in the agreement.
Meanwhile the United Nations Mission in South Sudan on Thursday urged the parties to the revitalized peace agreement to provide an election timeframe if they are to be accorded the much-needed international support to organize the polls.
“The international community, which will be required to support the elections, needs to know when the elections are likely to be held so that we can align and prioritize our support,” Nicholas Haysom, head of UNMISS and SRSG in South Sudan told journalists today.
“But if we don’t have a date then nobody will really commit to supporting elections and South Sudanese will not get into the frame of mind which is necessary for the elections to be held,” said the peacekeeping official,” he added.