August 4th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan’s SPLM/A in Opposition breaks its silence on the Khartoum Peace Agreement on Outstanding Issues and Security arrangement saying the leadership will not travel to Juba if the political and military prerequisites are met this time in letter and spirit.
During an interview today in Khartoum, Sudan, the SPLM/A(IO) Head of Governance Team, Dr. Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, assures that the SPLM/A(IO) leadership is not re-negotiating the Agreement of Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan but rather revitalizing it.
“Thank you very much nyamilepedia for hosting me. You are aware we are revitalizing the 2015 ARCISS which collapsed in 2016 July. We are not negotiating a new agreement. There are new groups who couldn’t see themselves in the ARCISS 2015 they wanted to negotiate a new deal, but we said no.” Dr. Oyet said.
“The High Level Revitilization Forum (HLRF) has so far handled chapters; One; on Governance and Two; on Security arrangements, in Addis Ababa we initialed a number of articles on the two chapters but ten outstanding issues brought us to Khartoum including the number of states.” The governor of Imatong State, Dr. Oyet, continued.
32 VS 21 States
Responding to one of the most debated article, the number and boundaries of states, Dr. Oyet reiterates that the two main warring parties that are currently operationilizing the 32 and 21 states, did not agree on this article and therefore the parties have derived a process that he believes will be transparent and hard to rig.
“IG and IO are the only parties that are operationalizing 32 and 21 states in the country respectively. At the talks we rejected the government 32 states they also rejected ours. We later agreed to institute an Inclusive Boundary Committee (IBC) to handle the number of states before Revitalized TGNU is established. The mandate of this body is not to modify or manipulate these states and their boundaries. They will study the viability and rationale of these sets of states. And they will make recommendations.” Dr. Oyet said.
Asked of why it would be harder to rig and how the parties will ensure that the process is transparent, free and fair, he said the referendum will be supervised by the AU and IGAD and secured by a joint IG-IO force alongside the UNMISS and RPF forces.
“As regarding the viability and fairness of a referendum. It’s important to note that the referendum shall be under the direct supervision of African Union and IGAD, they will use international criteria and standards for carrying out elections; secondly, the referendum will be secured by parties through the joint forces (army, police, and the national security), they will be beefed up by UNMISS and RPF forces under their respective mandates. It will be difficult to intimidate or rig this process.” He continued.
Critics, however, believe that the IBC may reach consensus based on majority decision otherwise many citizens may not participate if referendum goes through.
South Sudan’s economy is at a near collapse and many important anniversaries including the independence and martyrs’ days have not been commemorated this year, it is likely that South Sudan may not have the budget and time needed to hold referendums.
In case both the IBC and referendum fail, despite that the parties have not agreed, 32 states are most likely to be operationalized.
SPLM(IO) Leadership On Going To Juba
Asked of how the SPLM/A(IO) plans to return to Juba and ensure that the J1 incident does not repeat itself, Dr. Oyet explains the SPLM/A(IO) measures that must be put in place before their leadership lands in Juba.
“The SPLMAIO leadership will not go to Juba until after the 8 months pre transitional period. There are a number of preconditions to be met which includes; security and political prerequisites” Dr. Oyet said.
“security wise; the total cantonment of all forces is a must, the selection, verification, and joint training of forces by international and regional partners, within the pre transitional period the parties shall deploy the joint forces throughout South Sudan beginning with Juba and major towns of South Sudan. Politically; the work of National Pre Transitional Committee (NPTC), IBC, or RCNSBSS, NCAC, etc that shall operate from outside the country must be smooth and successful. Before moving to Juba we shall evaluate base on the above security and political preparations if peace exists or not before taking any decisions whether to go to Juba or not.” He continued.
ON THE ONGOING VIOLATIONS
Asked of why fighting has continued despite that a permanent ceasefire agreement has been signed, Dr. Oyet said it is the government forces that are on offensive in attempt to capture more areas under their control, however, he believes the attacks were minor and their forces have managed to fight back in self-defense.
“For the last 3 days we had a lull. We have been having skirmishes here and there due to violations by the government parties but they were intermittent. This was motivated by the urge to gain territorial and strategic advantages. We have been fighting back in self defense.” The SPLM/A(IO) military governor and a former lecturer, Dr. Oyet, said.
“CTSAMM shall report the details. In light of this the security situations of the country remains fragile and unpredictable. However the expectations for peace is higher among the civil population, this should give us incentives to completely ceasefire.” Dr. Oyet continued.
Power Arrangement at National and State Level
Asked of why the new power arrangement gives SPLM/A in Government 55% of power sharing and leaves the rest of the opposition with only 45%, Dr. Oyet defends their position saying that the power sharing will now be extended to all states in the country as oppose to Upper Nile and Equatoria in the past agreement.
“I told you we are revitalizing the 2015 ARCISS, we are not negotiating a new deal. We are only looking at provisions that have been rendered irrelevant due to changes in circumstances one of which is the fact that the now have engulfed the entire country.” Dr. Oyet claims.
“Unlike in 2015 where the conflict was almost confined to upper Nile region, today Equatoria and Bar el Gazel have caught fire, SPLMAIO is everywhere in South Sudan. The power sharing at national and state as well as local governments shall apply throughout the country at executive and legislative branches of government. The parties shall agree on the suitable rotational criteria to choose portfolios amongst themselves.” Oyet added.
Federalism As Popular Demand System of Governance
Asked whether the parties have resuscitated articles on federalism during the recent talks in Khartoum and Kampala, Dr. Oyet said the SPLM/A(IO) has given up the call for Federalism, however, he said the parties have agreed on schedules of devolution of powers and resources which shall be led by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee
“the question of federalism has been our key demands throughout the negotiations in 2014-2015 and until now. We have never given up on it. The government party has been resisting it. We have agreed that the parties shall agree on schedules of devolution of powers and resources and the National Constitution Amendment Committee shall incorporate this in the constitution that shall govern the new transitional period.” Head of IO governance committee said.
“This is good enough for the starting. The parties also agreed that the permanent constitution for South Sudan which shall be promulgated during the transitional period shall be based on federalism. We therefore kept track of the federalism question.” Dr. Oyet continued.
SPLM/A(IO) Position On SSOA and FDs refusing to sign;
Asked of what would be the position of the SPLM/A(IO) on the SSOA and FDs refusing to sign the Agreement on Outstanding Issues in Khartoum, he said the SPLM/A(IO) does not see any issue with SSOA and FDs trying to bargain for their interests as long as their demands do not affect or upset what the two main parties have already initialed.
“It is individual party decisions to negotiate and sign an agreement. SSOA and FDs request that they be given time to study the draft proposal and consult themselves. We have no problem with that. We understand their concerns in the draft agreement. In negotiations you don’t get 100% of what you want. If their concerns would be addressed by mediators as long as it shall not opset the gains that we in the IO has achieved in the agreement so be it.” The SPLM/A(IO) chair of Governance Team said.
“As far as I know they now have very limited time. We the parties who initialed the agreement are waiting, the suffering common man in the country is waiting, the world is also waiting for them to sign the agreement. We will surely sign the agreements and move to the next stage.” Oyet concludes.