Oct 29, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— In what seems to be a surprise to Machar’s office, the visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, carried many of Machar’s proposed projects to Ethiopian Prime Minister.
According to James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson of Dr. Machar, the new Memorandums of Understanding that were signed yesterday in Juba are projects that were proposed by the former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar.
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“The agreement in Juba between Salva Kiir’s regime and the Ethiopian government on construction of roads and bridges, etc, is not a new initiative. These were already discussed and agreed in principle between H.E. Dr. Riek Machar, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, in Addis Ababa, last year before the now collapsed Transitional Government of National Unity was even formed.” Said James Gatdet Dak.
“So the agreement is simply implementing what Dr. Machar did in Addis Ababa with the Ethiopian government.” Dak continued.
The roads and bridges, if built by Ethiopian government as promised, will connect Ethiopia to Upper Nile and Jonglei states.
According to James Gatdet, Dr. Machar had been discussing the same with the Ethiopian government on the need to build an oil pipeline from Upper Nile via Ethiopia to Djibouti, like what Machar initiated between South Sudan and Kenya.
“These are not new projects at all!” Dak reiterates.
Although Machar is yet to comment on this shift in ties, the new projects could be a win-win for the people of Upper Nile, something that may bother Kiir’s Bhar el Ghazal dominated government.
South Sudan’s Equatoria is connected to East Africa, mostly Uganda and Kenya, through Juba-Nimule Highway which was built by the USAIDs.
Gatdet also acknowledged that the new military cooperation between South Sudan and Ethiopia is something new but said it is a desperate attempt by Salva Kiir government to isolate the SPLM/SPLA-IO.
“What is new is the military cooperation between South Sudan and Ethiopia, which has many interpretations of course. So it would be premature for the regime in Juba to celebrate.” Gatdet said.
” I hope the regime will soon accept without conditions the deployment of regional forces to Juba, etc.” he adds.
South Sudan has also built military ties with Egypt and Uganda, which gave Kiir’s faction an upper hand in arms, however, the opposition has maintained grounds within the borders of South Sudan.
Gatdet downplays that the new military corporation between Ethiopia and Juba will not change anything.
“Of course, having said this, our army (SPLA-IO) is inside South Sudan not in Kenya or in Ethiopia.” Gatdet said.
In other reports, the region is lobbying for new mechanisms to resuscitate the peace agreement. One proposal suggests that the new peace agreement should accommodate the break away SPLM/SPLA-IO faction under Taban Deng Gai, however, the region is yet to determine who has upper hand between Machar and Taban groups within the SPLM/A-IO ranks and files to come up with power sharing ratios.
Another proposal suggests that Taban’s group should be accommodated on the government side but Kiir’s government has set new preconditions for both suggestions.
When Machar was on the run in July, IGAD and TROIKA were convinced that the former Vice President was dead. Others believed that if he survives he would lose power to Taban Deng and his new allies, however, with Machar’s full recovery and continued escalation of the conflict to all regions of South Sudan, some leaders in the region and international community see no solution to South Sudan’s conflict without including SPLM/SPLA-IO and other armed groups into a new Transitional Government of National Unity.