Home | News    Friday 20 November 2015

South Sudan armed opposition says 28 states order derails peace agreement

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November 19, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, has warned that president Salva Kiir’s insistence to unilaterally impose 28 states on the country would derail the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August unless the decision was revoked.

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SPLM (IO) Chairman, Riek Machar, addressing the 2nd National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting in Pagak, November 5, 2015 (ST Photo)

President Kiir on 2 October issued a presidential order to create 28 states; expanding the current 10 states on which basis the peace agreement was signed in August by the warring parties to end the 21-month long violent conflict in the country.

The opposition leader, Machar, on the same day while on a mission to the United States immediately issued a statement condemning president Kiir’s action as a violation of the peace agreement.

Former detainees, opposition political parties and civil society organizations in the country as well as the East African regional bloc, IGAD and its international partners which mediated the peace agreement, all condemned president Kiir’s unilateral decision as a violation of the peace agreement and the country’s transitional constitution.

However, president Kiir and his government said the decision was made in the interest of the country and vowed to continue with the implementation of the order, further tabling it before the current national legislature in Juba for endorsement.

But the opposition SPLM-IO said such a trend would dismantle the peace agreement unless president Kiir’s government revoked the implementation of the unilateral decision over the 28 states.

“This illegal action by President Salva Kiir’s government is anti-peace. The unilateral creation of 28 states is a clear violation of the peace agreement. Neither the president nor the national legislature has the power to singlehandedly amend the peace agreement or the constitution,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune when contacted on Thursday.

He said it was clear in the peace agreement that any amendment in the agreement or in the constitution on matters that affect provisions in the peace agreement would first be agreed upon by the parties to the deal, and therefore not only one party to decide and implement.

Dak argued that the peace agreement is the supreme document in the country from the basis of which the current constitution can be amended and not the other way around.

“The current bicameral national legislature in Juba has no constitutional power to amend the constitution in matters that affect the peace agreement,” he said.

He further explained that it will be the would-be formed transitional national legislature in the transitional government of national unity that will have the power drawn from the peace agreement which will amend the constitution after the constitution amendment drafting committee from the peace parties work out the document.

The opposition leader’s spokesman said both the presidential order and the national legislature’s attempt to endorse the 28 states are violations.

28 STATES THREATEN ANOTHER WAR

Dak further said the 28 states are prone to creating another war in the country over their unclear boundaries despite the peace agreement which has ended the 15 December 2013 war over political reforms.

He said president Kiir has curved lands belonging to other communities and annexed them to the community he hails from, warning that the president’s action was likely creating another war.

“And if you look at the way President Kiir has proposed the 28 states, this will most likely create another war over states or boundaries,” he said.

Last month, a pro-government faction of the ethnic Shilluk in the oil rich Upper Nile state, which previously refused to defect to SPLM-IO with forces of General Johnson Olony, has defected from the government in protest of the creation of the 28 states, saying it proposed to take away Shilluk lands and give it to the ethnic Dinka of Apadang, president Kiir’s community.

Other communities have also rejected the 28 states either on the ground that it violated the peace agreement or took away lands and gave them to other Dinka communities.

Dak said unless the matter was resolved, it would derail the implementation of the peace agreement, including delaying the return to Juba of the advance team from the SPLM-IO.

During the peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, SPLM-IO proposed creation of 21 federal states based on the previous 21 former colonial districts with their respective 1956 boundaries, arguing that federal system of governance was pro-development and a popular demand of the people of South Sudan.

But the government rejected the proposal saying it was not time to create more states, citing lack of resources to run them and forced the opposition group through IGAD to sign the peace deal in August on the basis of the current 10 states.

The agreement stipulated that the issue of federalism with the creation of the states would be tackled by the transitional government of national unity through the mechanisms provided in the agreement during the permanent constitution making process with participation of all the parties.

However, nearly forty days after he signed the agreement, president Kiir issued a presidential order to create the 28 states in the country, saying this was a popular demand of the people.

Two weeks ago, the opposition leadership said it was composing an advance team of 500 cadres from the SPLM-IO to travel to Juba and spread to the other nine states if logistics were availed and other “political and security” issues were addressed.

One of the violations on political issues not yet addressed, Dak said, is the 28 states, saying the advance team was supposed to start implementing the peace agreement on the basis of the current 10 states in an atmosphere of peace.

He said the advance team may not travel to Juba unless the issue is addressed.

TWO-THIRD MPS WALKED OUT

In a separate statement, the chairman of the national committee for information and public relations in the opposition faction, Mabior Garang Mabior, condemned the amendment of the constitution by President Kiir’s minority faction in the national legislature, claiming that a two-third majority of the parliamentarians walked out of parliament in protest of the amendments.

He called on President Kiir to reverse his order creating the 28 states, blaming what he called hardliners in government and the Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders (JCE) for ill-advising the president to take the action which violates the peace agreement and the constitution.

“The intention of these interest groups is to divert the attention of the public from the implementation of the peace agreement,” Mabior said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

He said the advance team of the SPLM-IO was ready to travel to Juba any time if the political environment was made conducive for the implementation of the peace agreement.

“The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (In Opposition) calls on our partners in peace, particularly President Salva Kiir to immediately reverse this decision,” he said.

Fighting has however continues in various states despite the ceasefire deal, with the latest incident being an ambush on Wednesday by unknown gunmen targeting vehicles travelling on Juba-Nimule highway, the main lifeline route to the capital.

(ST)

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  • 20 November 2015 06:56, by Akuma

    Who cares if SPLM-IO advances team don’t come to Juba? People of South Sudan are happy and enjoy the creation of 28 states. Was there a constitution that give rebel Riek powers to 21 state by then? Luckily President Kiir has a constitutional mandate and National Assembly has finally amend the constitution.

    It’s upon SPLM-IO to come to Juba or remain in exile forever.

    repondre message

  • 20 November 2015 06:58, by Agutthon

    Let aluta continu if 28 states cause it. It will be no longer the same war of December 2013.

    repondre message

    • 20 November 2015 10:00, by Redeemer

      Riek
      1997 agreement was derailed when it was realized to be meaningless but you managed to stomach it, just throw a glass of water, Kiir is not derailing the peace but he is water the bitterness of your tribal wars from the heart of victims specially Panriang and Abiemnom the rest are just opportunists

      repondre message

  • 22 November 2015 11:19, by Padiet Deng Alony

    is upto rebel to work for peace signed or fight again because of 28 states which is popularly welcomed by all South Sudanese citizens. only shilluk and nuer are the one who are not happy because they lost oil which is all in Padang land.still game is tit for tat no change. for every action there is equal and opposite reaction worry not

    repondre message

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