By Tor Madira Machier,
May 06, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— President Salva Kiir on Friday sworn-in the Transitional Government of National Unity prior to Machar’s return to the national capital Juba and his subsiquent takeover of the First Vice Presidency two weeks ago. One hour after Machar’s return to Juba, the Doha based Aljazeera Network described Machar’s return as “an important development” in the implementation of the peace agreement struck by Kiir and Machar nine months ago.
However, despite Machar’s return, and despite the estabishment of the Transitional government of National Unity last week, there is a range of tough issues which make the way forward for the two principals very ‘tough’. One sensitive issue the two principals must resolve before they kick-off the construction of the state is the fate of the 28 states which president Kiir established one month after peace deal was signed last year. The former armed opposition – now Kiir’s peace partner – the regional bloc IGAD as well as the entire international community declined to recognise the legitimacy of the proposed 28 states citing a possible ethnic strife possed by Kiir’s establishment order which divides the country into 28 states. However, President Salva Kiir remains defiant to the issue argueing that it is a popular demand of the people of South Sudan since a long time ago and will help take services closer to the grassroot citizens while Machar insists that creation of more states without well known historical boundaries will incite ethnic and cummunal violence pointing to land graving towards ethnic members of the group in power.
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Kiir’s defiance and arguement on the creation of 28 states versus Machar’s insistence on a possible ethnic bloodshed in regards to the 28 states signals and shows the extends of depth of a challenge facing the implementation of the 9-months old peace deal despite a pledge by the two to work togather last week.
To fire back at the international community, former Upper Nile State officials from ethnic Dinka issued a statement last week threatening to rebel if the government tries to handover the leadership of the Upper Nile states to the former rebel movement the SPLM in Opposition or should the government act to reverse the the notion of creating more states in the country. This sends a positive message that president Salva Kiir may be acting under duress being threatened by the members of his ethnic Dinka that they will withdraw support from him should he give up to the demand of Machar and as well as of the international community to cancell the 28 states.
Similar to Kiir’s 28 state rhetoric, Juba has never been demilitarized so far as stipulated in the peace agreement and also disagreements over contoment areas for SPLA-in-Opposition forces in Bhar Al-Ghazal and Equatoria continue to hit deadlock.
Citing the above challenges and other problems facing the peace partners – now a one government – there is still a very tough and thorny road ahead of Kiir and Machar to make this peace materializes and mends ethnic gapes created by the conflict.
And to achieve this, the two men must put to silence the 28 states because with these states in place, the possibility of an uncontrollable ethnic violance will not be thwarted making it hard for the new unity government to achieve sustainable peace and security.
Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese student pursuing Law at the University of Ain Shams as well as a former head of the SPLM Youth League mission in Egypt’s department of peace and reconciliation, he can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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