Kiir ignores peace deal, angers negotiators
The EastAfrican has learnt that his decision to unilaterally postpone next year’s General Election and disregard some aspects of the agreement signed with rebel leader Riek Machar in Addis Ababa last week and counsel from regional leaders have not gone down well in Kampala and Nairobi.
President Kiir announced the postponement just a day after a May 11 meeting in Nairobi, where EAC heads of state took him to task over the violation of the Addis Ababa truce, just hours after the two principals had signed the ceasefire agreement.
According to sources who attended the meeting, President Kiir blamed Dr Machar’s side for the violations of the May 9 ceasefire. He reportedly told the leaders that Dr Machar was “not in control” of the White Army, despite his claims that the rebels are under his command.
The two principals who signed the peace accord have accused each side of failing to exert full control on their respective armies, hardly a week after they signed a cessation of hostilities agreement to end the country’s six-month-old conflict.
READ: President Kiir and rebel leader Machar sign peace deal
The Sunday meeting that lasted just under an hour was meant for Kiir to brief the heads of state on the direct talks and how he plans to implement aspects of the deal that was agreed upon.
Kiir insists on leading the interim government, and he told the EAC leaders that as the sitting president of the war-torn country, he was best suited to lead it. He also informed the meeting that he plans to appoint the majority of people in the interim government.
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni expressed concern over Kiir’s intention to single-handedly steer the interim government and warned that this risked sending the country down the path of self-destruction.
“Kiir argued that he needed to control the process, because it’s the only way he would be able to run the government and avoid hitches and sabotage that could be caused by the opposition,” said the source.
Kenya and Uganda have played a pivotal role in trying to end the conflict in South Sudan, with one leading the diplomatic push while the other backed it with force.
According to Kiir, Dr Machar should not be rewarded for rebelling. “Dr Machar cannot be entitled to appoint a higher or even equal number of officials to the interim government,” Kiir reportedly said.
The regional heads of state suggested that Kiir consult widely on the composition of the interim government. They also warned against the plan to postpone the 2015 elections
The meeting however ended without any agreement. President Uhuru Kenyatta was tasked to fix a date for another meeting and continue with the diplomatic push.
In the agreement signed last week, the parties had agreed that a transitional government of national unity would offer the best chance for the people of South Sudan to take the country forward; and that such a government would oversee government functions during a transitional period, implement critical reforms, as negotiated through the peace process, a permanent constitutional process and guide the country to a new election.