United States (U.S.) Administration has criticized the South Sudanese First Vice-President designate, Riek Machar, who leads an armed opposition faction, for failing to travel to Juba on Tuesday, saying its Troika members will consult in response to the “obstruction” of the implementation of the peace agreement.
SPLM-IO officials loyal to Machar however said U.S. should instead study the ongoing violations by President Salva Kiir’s government and respond to the “clear signs of bad intention by the government to repeat the December 2013 crisis.”
U.S. State Department criticized the lack of commitment by the opposition’s top leader to arrive in Juba as planned on Tuesday and to take oath of office as first vice-president to form a transitional unity government with President Kiir.
“The United States is deeply disappointed by Riek Machar’s failure to return to South Sudan’s capital of Juba today to form the Transitional Government of National Unity,” said the State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, in a press briefing on Tuesday.
“His failure to go to Juba despite efforts from the international community places the people of South Sudan at risk of further conflict and suffering, and undermines the peace agreement’s reform pillars…” he added.
Kirby said the U.S. government will coordinate with its other partners on how to deal with Machar’s failure to arrive in Juba.
However, a senior member of Machar’s opposition faction said the US should instead see the clear bad intentions of the government in refusing to allow more opposition troops to enter Juba with their weapons despite the compliance with the security arrangement in the peace deal.
“US should instead appreciate the fact that we have sent our officials to Juba including the deputy chairman. This is a commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement. But the government’s bad intentions to possibly repeat the December 2013 crisis is clear unless Machar goes to Juba well prepared to deter the situation,” an anonymous senior SPLM-IO official told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
He said Machar had done nothing wrong to transport his troops and weapons as part of the security arrangements in Juba, adding that the US should rather put pressure on the government to allow the forces and weapons and give the needed landing permit for the aircraft carrier.
The official further said members of the Troika countries have been contrarily advising their citizens not to come to Juba or South Sudan in general on the day and week of arrival of Machar, citing possible violence.
He said U.S. should be “sensitive” about the attitude of the government and ensure that the crisis will not repeat itself, adding that the US government did nothing in December 2013 to avert the massacre of thousands of ethnic Nuer community members in Juba.
The opposition, he said, only wanted Machar to be allowed to travel to Juba with his army chief and his soldiers and their weapons.
The U.S. also called on President Kiir’s government “to exercise maximum flexibility” in the arrangements for the sake of peace in the country.