March 28, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — At a time the world is locked down and worried by a global pandemic, South Sudanese have a bigger issue to worry about, and that is the formation of a unity government that would permanently silent the guns and ends a civil war that has killed over 400, 000 people in less than 7 years.
According to government officials, the small and slow progress that was made in the last 40 days, is now at risk of a complete breakdown as the parties have reached a new deadlock on the number and allotment of states.
While the government delegation that include Michael Makuei Lueth, Martin Elia Lomuro and Paul Mayom Akech argued that the defunct government faction should take 6 out of 10 states plus the 3 administrative areas that will be administered in the office of the president, the SPLM-IO delegation is fighting for 3 states but the government delegation wants them to take only 2 states.
According to Article 1.16 of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan on States and Local Governments, the Incumbent TGoNU should get 55%, the SPLM-IO should get 27%, the SSOA should take 10% and the Other Political Parties were suppose to get 8%.
Despite the simplicity of this arithmetic, South Sudan’s ruling party which doubles as the government, demands that in addition to three administration areas, the government should take six other states while the SPLM/A-IO should get two states.
According to Michael Makuei Lueth, the government’s 55% should be rounded up to 60% and the SPLM/A-IO’s 27% should be rounded down to 20%, and other two oppositions, SSOA and OPP, should remain unaffected.
Following what the politicians term as “protracted fruitless debates” over the number of States that should be given to each party ,and particularly to the SPLM/A-IO, the matter was referred to the Revitalized Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (R-JMEC) for further mediation.
The R-JMEC mediation took place yesterday, on Friday, March 27 2020 in Juba, but after listening to both parties, the R-JMEC determined that the government representatives had no argument but just a delaying tactic to obstruct formation of the new government.
The RJMEC has declined to approve the government delegation’s position, however, it failed to strike a breakthrough and has now referred the matter to the two principles, President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, to decide.
As a result, further consultations will be expected next week and perhaps a meeting between President Kiir and Dr. Machar could resolve the issue.
On hearing the news, many supporters of both camps, especially the SPLM/A(IO), condemn the other side and called on Dr. Machar to stand firm for what was agreed in the peace agreement.
This will not be the first time for the issue on the number of states to bring peace implementation to a standstill. The 2015-16 Peace Agreement collapsed after President Salva Kiir introduced 32 states in the middle of peace implementation.
The number and boundaries of states has been the center of argument until Kiir replaced 32 states with 10 states plus 3 administrative areas which other parties loosely accept.
Due to the ongoing restructuring of the peace agreement and what seems to be an organized delayment to the formation of the Unity Government, many peace guarantors and analysts wonder if there is any political will among the parties and whether or not president Kiir meant any of his recent compromises.