In unexpected move which is described as a breakthrough, the South Sudan’s presidency has agreed to review the 28 states and come up with a recommendation on the number of new states within 30 days.
The resolution came out after a joint meeting of the President, Salva Kiir, First Vice President, Riek Machar and Vice President, James Wani, at the presidential palace yesterday.
In a joint statement to the press by the two deputies after the meeting, a committee of 15 members will be constituted from all the parties to the August 2015 peace agreement and from the international partners to come up with recommendation on new states.
“We discussed the issue of the 28 states. We decided to tackle this through a committee. That committee will be composed of 15 members…So that they can work on the number of states, review them and they come up with recommendation on the number of the states and this will be within 30 days. Within 30 days this work will be done,” said First Vice President, Riek Machar, in a press statement to the media following the meeting, also broadcasted on the South Sudan TV, (SSTV) on Wednesday evening.
Machar said the 15 members of the committee will include 10 South Sudanese from the parties in the peace deal and 5 others from the international partners. He added that they would ask South Africa and Tanzania to bring in two members from their countries.
Also, Vice President, James Wani, who also spoke to the press with Machar, confirmed the outcome of the joint meeting of the Presidency with President Kiir’s participation.
“Really, I have nothing to say further, what the First Vice President has just articulated is absolutely in place. These are the issues we agreed on,” Vice President Wani said.
“But one would want to underline the fact that the meeting of today by the three of us has been one of the most successful meetings,” Wani added.
He reaffirmed that the inclusive committee to be formed will not only review the number of states but also work and recommend on their new boundaries within 30 days. It was not however clear when the committee will be formed to start their work on the new states.
Machar also said the Wednesday meeting tackled the need to release prisoners of war on both sides.
He also said the presidency has agreed to come up with a budget for cantonment of forces in the country.
The rest of the remaining issues, they said, will be tackled during the coming Friday’s council of ministers meeting.
Earlier, in a 31 January resolution, the East African regional bloc, IGAD, which brokered the peace agreement, called on the parties to form a boundary commission to work on the number of new states within 30 days, or revert to the current 10 states in case of no agreement.
Observers close to the decision making processes in the rival parties say the most probable outcome will be for the parties to revert to the 10 states, citing lack of agreement.
Earlier, the government said the issue of the 28 states was a ‘red line’ and refused to review them, but the Wednesday breakthrough has come as a positive step.