The working group comprising members of the three factions of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) has been unable to come together and work from one location since the committee was formed, grounding the efforts of the reunification initiative being sponsored by the Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni.
The acting Secretary General of the SPLM faction loyal to President Salva Kiir, Jemma Nunu Kumba said the group had not made any progress because of the differences within its members over the venue for their work.
“You know the parties nominated three members each to the working group. From our part we nominated three comrades. The other comrades also nominated three members each. The SPLM-IO [the armed opposition faction] nominated three and the former detainees also nominated three members, but two of the former detainees who are part of the working group did not come to Juba where the committee was to start its work,” Nunu said.
She added: “So the team in Juba worked on the draft and sent for their contribution. But they did not do it. Instead they wanted the team in Juba to go to Entebbe and work from there”.
The senior party official, however, stated that the leadership was consulting about whether to allow the team work from Entebbe in Uganda or persuade the two members of the former political detainees to come Juba where they will be working together with other members from other factions involved in reunification.
A senior member of the SPLM-IO faction under the faction of the first vice president Taban Deng Gai also confirmed separately, saying two members of the former detainees refused to come to Juba.
“You know well that Majak D’ Agoot, Kosti Manibe and John Luk Jok were nominated by the former detainees to the committee. John Luk is in Juba and he has already started working with the team in Juba, but the two colleagues did not come. They insisted that the committee must work from Entebbe,” further explained the official.
He added: “I don’t why they do not want to come and the work place of the committee is in Juba”.
The SPLM-IO member also said there were discussions ongoing between the parties to either permit the working group to develop the concept and implementation matrix outside South Sudan or allow three members of the former detainees who are already in Juba to represent their group in consultations and working in Juba.
In July, the various factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Entebbe Declaration to operationalize the Arusha Agreement on the reunification of the ruling party.
The declaration was signed under the auspices of President Museveni.
However, in furtherance of the objectives of the SPLM reconciliation and unity, the faction groups reportedly resolved to establish a working group to revitalize and operationalize the implementation of the Arusha SPLM Reunification Agreement. The working group was also tasked to develop a matrix for the implementation of the Arusha Agreement with specific timelines and report to President Museveni.
The group also reiterated calls for the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar to join the process of reconciliation and unity of the SPLM. They also resolved that groups and cadres, who are not part of the Arusha Agreement, should join the reconciliation and reunification process and the SPLM cadres and the grassroots countrywide and in the diaspora to embrace the new spirit of reconciliation and unity for the interest of the South Sudanese and their country.
In June, South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar declined an invitation for the SPLM reunification meeting brokered by the Ugandan president, arguing that his forced confinement in South Africa made it difficult for him to participate in this gathering.
Machar, in a letter addressed to Uganda’s technical adviser facilitating the talks for three factions of South Sudan’s ruling party, said his faction received the letter at short notice, resulting in failure to make necessary preparations to attend the talks.
The ruling party split leading to an outbreak of a civil war in mid-December 2013.