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S. Sudanese government agrees to federal system with rebels

September 27, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The peace talks between the South Sudanese warring factions have seen a slow but encouraging progress as president Salva Kiir’s government has agreed to installation of federal system of governance.

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IGAD mediators and South Sudan negotiating teams at the sigining of the ceasefire agreement in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: IGAD/CEWARN)

Observers at the peace talks told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that various committees formed were working on different documents in order to agree on issues of security, governance and economy of the young troubled nation.

“Government negotiators have agreed to the call for federalism in South Sudan. This is a significant step and good gesture to reach a political settlement,” an observer close to the process said.

The rebel faction SPLM-in-Opposition under the leadership of the former vice-president, Riek Machar have been calling to restructure the South Sudanese state on the basis of federalism which the government had previously rejected.

The recent change of heart by the government is seen as a good gesture towards reaching a political settlement to end the 9-month-long civil war in the country.

Sources indicated that government negotiators have also agreed that a prime minister, which would be a nominee by the rebel group in the proposed transitional leadership power-sharing arrangements, would also run for public office. The latest development is a reverse to the IGAD protocol which denied the prime minister the right to contest in elections, a position previously supported by the government.

Machar’s opposition faction also suggested a prime minister would be the head of government and its security organs while the president would be the head of state who would be ceremonial in roles.

While the rebels agreed and preferred to discuss a parliamentary system similar to the leadership arrangements in Ethiopia, the government leaned towards adopting a system similar to the Grand Coalition which Kenya used between the former president Mwai Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga.

It is not clear whether the parties will beat the 45-day dateline imposed by IGAD within which to reach a final peace agreement.

Meanwhile the warring parties continue to trade accusations over the recent clashes in Upper Nile state which threatens to interrupt the oil production in the main oil fields of Paloich.

Tens of thousands of people have died and over 1.5 million displaced since the conflict within the ruling party turned violent in mid-December.

The IGAD-mediated peace process is seen as the only hope to peacefully end the conflict and avert the looming humanitarian crisis in the fragile region.

(ST)