South Sudan President Salva Kiir

The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) has issued a statement protesting a government decision to establish 32 states instead of 10 that existed prior 2015.

“We would like to reiterate here that the 32 States were imposed in contravention of Articles 1.6, 15.2 and 15.3 of Chapter I of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) which the mediators are revitalizing. It defies logic to insist on an illegality while trying to work out another agreement. What better chance will it get, especially that the region is bent on maintaining the status quo?”

They say that Juba would like to revisit the draft agreement on the number of states and representation of the Parties at the State and Local levels of government. “Juba would want to maintain its illegal 32 States and would not like to have SSOA and other Opposition groups represented at sub-national levels of government,” they say.

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This comes after parties to the negotiations were on July 18, 2018 served with a final draft agreement on Governance to be initialed last Thursday in a ceremony but the South Sudanese government opted out.

Yet that Thursday the delegation of the regime in Juba communicated to the mediators in writing that it was not prepared to sign the document that day. On the other hand everything was set for the initialing ceremony.

SSOA members say that about 5:15 pm, the waiting delegations were surprised to know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan Ibrahim Ahmed Abdelaziz Ghandour who is the Chief Mediator was holding a hurried press conference in another hall nearby in which he told the media that he had just received a letter from the Juba delegation stating that “they would want to be part of the process” and accordingly, he said he had decided to postpone the initialing ceremony. The delegations dispersed without direct communication from the Minister or his staff.

Members of SSOA are not happy that Juba would like to revisit the draft agreement on the number of states and representation of the Parties at the State and Local levels of government. “Juba would want to maintain its illegal 32 States and would not like to have SSOA and other Opposition groups represented at sub-national levels of government,” they say.

SPLM Leaders (FPD) disagreement

The group also has cried of the unfairness in power sharing amongst worrying parties.

“We note that there serious lack of consistency in allocating power-sharing ratios at all levels of governance that appear not to have any foundation or justification,” FPD says stating further that they are in favour of maintaining the original 10 states instead of 32 as created by the government of Salva Kiir.

FPF says that the idea of holding a referendum within five months before the end of the Pre-Transitional Period is a ploy to entrench the 32 States, as it is not feasible to conduct a meaningful referendum within this time frame.

“During this period of time only the current TGoNU that will be in charge of conducting the referendum including all matters related to it such as matters not amenable to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ options. How can a referendum be conducted in a situation when it is one Party to the conflict that will be in power and controls the state including security, registration, producing of voting materials?” the faction says.

The group is fearful that there will be no conducive atmosphere and sufficient political space for other political parties to campaign and propagate their view on the pros and cons of the 32-state arrangement, among others.

Agreement on some of the outstanding issues
Under the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, as amended it was agreed that President Salva Kiir Mayardit continues as President of the Republic of South Sudan, while The Chairman of SPLM/A-IO Dr Riek Machar Teny is to assume the position of the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan.

The two leaders would to be assisted by five presidents for: Governance Cluster, Economic Cluster, Services Delivery Cluster, Infrastructure Cluster and Gender and Youth Cluster. There would also be 35 ministers for the above five clusters.

The partners to the agreement would also share different government positions at all levels, including representation in local governments and legislature.

The agreement that is now being contested was reached at by parties comprising of Transitional Government of National Unity of the Republic of South Sudan (TGoNU), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Former Detainees (FDs), Other Political Parties (OPP).

However, the two groups say they remain committed to constructively engage in the process with the mediation and with other parties in order to achieve just and sustainable peace for the people of South Sudan.