October 4, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, has called for an emergency meeting to discuss president Salva Kiir’s recent unilateral decree creating 28 states in South Sudan and its implications on the peace agreement the rival leaders concluded in August on the basis of the current 10 states.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar, second left, looks across after shaking hands with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, center-right wearing a black hat, after lengthy peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 (Photo AP/Mulugeta Ayene)
His office has revealed that the national liberation council of the opposition faction will convene a meeting in the third week of October to deliberate on the implications of the new development and its toll on the peace deal.
“Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/SPLA, Cde Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has called for an emergency meeting of the National Liberation Council on October 20, 2015. The meeting will discuss implications of the unilateral creation of 28 states by president Salva Kiir’s decree on the peace agreement,” Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Earlier, officials of the opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), warned that the unilateral decision made after the peace agreement was concluded based on the 10 states would have serious implications on major provisions of the peace deal and open up the agreement for renegotiations that would drag the country back to square one.
It was not clear why the government made the unilateral decision to accept creation of more federal states at this time when it rejected the similar demand from the opposition at the peace talks in Addis Ababa to create 21 federal states.
But president Kiir in his republican decree explained that he delayed the creation of the states due to preparation for referendum and independence of the country and it was therefore time to create more states after the independence of 2011.
Machar’s opposition faction argued that the explanation by the president did not make sense and was “unconvincing” because the referendum and independence were achieved four years ago, but the president rejected the similar proposal during the recent peace talks.
If the president shared the idea to create more states after independence, Dak earlier argued, he would have presented to the peace talks his 28 states proposal as the opposition was also presenting its 21 states proposal and an agreement would have been reached on the number of states, their basis for creation and when they should come into effect.
“We are not against creation of more federal states. Actually we initiated this during the nearly two years of peace negotiations in Addis Ababa. The regime in was the one that rejected the idea and forced the parties to sign the peace agreement on the basis of the current 10 states. All the provisions about governance in the agreement are based on the 10 states,” said Dak.
“Now for the regime to say it has suddenly accepted creation of more federal states and to do it unilaterally outside the peace agreement is a clear violation of the accord,” he said.
Dak further accused the government of having “pride in trouble-making and prolonging the suffering of the people of South Sudan.”
President Kiir while signing the peace agreement on 26 August, 9 days late after his rival, Machar inked the deal on 17 August, said the document was neither the Bible nor the Quran and warned of difficulty in the implementation of the agreement due to a list of reservations he complained about.
The South Sudanese leader was referring to a comment by the former Sudanese leader Jaafer Mohamed Niemeri, who once uttered the no-Bible no-Quran comment when he was about to abrogate the Addis Ababa agreement he signed with former South Sudanese rebel movement in 1972 in Addis Ababa.
Dak lamented that it was unfortunate the government imitated the words of president Nimieri in the “destruction” of the peace agreement, but could not copy president Omer Al-Bashir’s style in “introducing federalism” in Sudan before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed with the rebels in 2005.
He narrated that when president Bashir knew that the SPLM/SPLA, particularly the Nasir faction was in 1991 calling for self-determination for the people of South Sudan and establishment of federalism in Sudan, it went ahead in 1993 to divide Sudan into 26 federal states, with South Sudan ending up with the current 10 states, before the signing of the Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA) on self-determination in 1997 and the CPA in 2005.
“The matter would have been a little bit different if Salva Kiir decreed his 28 states before the signing of the peace agreement in August,” he said.
He pointed out that the issue would have been discussed in the course of the peace negotiations by all parties, in the same line with the 21 states proposed by Machar’s group, adding that necessary amendments would have been made and incorporated into the peace deal with reflections on all the provisions on governance in the current agreement.
The East African regional bloc (IGAD) and its continental and international partners are yet to react to president Kiir’s decree.