Kiir should be pressured to back off from 32 states – Crisis group

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

December 4th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit should be pressured into backing off from the controversial 32 states which is preventing the parties to the agreement to form a unity government, the UK-based International Crisis Group said.

The states issue has been one of those affecting the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement signed last year. The parties had signed a peace deal in 2015 on the condition that the country would be ran on the basis on 10 states after the SPLM-IO proposed 21 which were rejected by the government.

However, in a surprise move, President Kiir declared on October 2nd 2015 that the country was being divided into 28 states. The government order was condemned by the regional and international community and later on led to the collapse of the 2015 peace agreement.

In September last year, the government and opposition groups signed a revitalized version of the 2015 peace agreement. The agreement formed and tasked two bodies – the Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) and the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) – with solving the issue.

However the two bodies failed and instead forwarded the issue to the parties for deliberation. Kiir formed a committee in October and that committee has reportedly failed to agree on the issue as parties disagree on how many states should be maintained.

“There could be a way to break the [states] impasse. Many insiders to whom Crisis Group has spoken believe that, if pressed hard enough, Kiir could budge from the 32-state configuration, especially if mediators made clear that intransigence would mean he would shoulder much of the blame should the peace deal collapse over this issue,” the crisis group said on Monday.

The group said there was indication that the committees set up to work on the reunification of forces were working in a collegial and promising manner where as the one formed for the deliberation on then IBC report on the states was not.

“Outstanding issues on the army are important and will likely be difficult to resolve, but the parties have agreed to a roadmap. Joint security committees established by the 2018 peace deal are operating and surprisingly collegial and there does not appear to be an absolute impasse,” the group said.

“In contrast, on states and boundaries, discussions are deadlocked; committees created to resolve the issue have failed and disbanded. Security arrangements in Juba are also critical, as Crisis Group has previously underscored, given that the capital has been a flashpoint in the past and because Machar will not go back without his security ensured,” it added.

The group urged the international and regional community pressure the two parties to make concession on the issue which is now once again threatening to further delay the formation of what would be the Reconstituted Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU).

“But negotiations on that issue are, in essence, on hold, largely because Machar almost certainly will not return to the capital absent a deal on states and boundaries,” it said.

“A priority for international mediators should be to unlock the states and boundaries question,” the group further added.

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