S. Sudan’s Kiir to retain key ministries in transition period: official

September 28, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s leader Salva Kiir will, for purposes of effectiveness, maintain key ministries during the proposed Transitional Government of National Unity (GoNU), the country’s cabinet affairs minister revealed on Sunday.

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President Salva Kiir addresses the nation from the State House on September 15, 2015, in Juba (Photo AFP/Charles Atiki Lomodong)

Martin Elia Lomoro told a local daily that the South Sudan leader would not allow ministries of defence, foreign affairs and interior go to the armed opposition.

“The agreement says the president is the chief foreign relations officer – that means he is the top diplomat,” Lomoro was quoted in Monday’s edition of The Stance newspaper.

“So how can he give the foreign affairs to someone else? The agreement the president is the commander in chief of the SPLA and the head of other organized forces. How can he give the ministry of defence to the opposition forces?” asked the minister.

According to the Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCRSS) signed by President Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and Pagam Amum, the head of former political detainees, the executives will be shared among the parties of government (53%), armed opposition (33%), former detainees (7%), and other opposition political parties (7%) under the National Alliance. There thirty ministries are organized into three groups of Governance Cluster, ten (10) Ministries. The ministries are Cabinet Affairs; Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Defence and Veterans’ Affairs; Interior; Justice and Constitutional Affairs; National Security; Parliamentary Affairs; Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services; Ministry of Federal Affairs; Minister in the Office of the President.

There is the Economic Cluster, thirteen (13) Ministries of Finance and Planning; Petroleum, Mining; Agriculture and Food Security; Livestock and Fisheries; Trade and Industry; Energy and Dams; Transport; Roads and Bridges; Environment and Forestry; Land, Housing and Urban Development; Water Resources and Irrigation, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism. Then we have Service Delivery Cluster, seven (7) Ministries: Higher Education, Science and Technology; General Education and Instruction; Health; Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development; Gender, Child and Social Welfare; Culture, Youth, and Sports; Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

“There is no government in the world where the president will come and say okay, I will take this ministry [and] you take this [ministry]. A government by definition is a team selected by elected president to serve in his government to achieve his objectives or policies as stated during the elections,” said Lomoro, contradicting what the accord says.

According to last month’s peace deal, signed last month, “each Party shall nominate TGoNU Ministerial portfolios on a rotational basis.” Government will first select its members from any of the clusters before the other parties to the peace agreement.

Lomoro, however, reiterated that government is committed to the peace deal, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authorities on Development (IGAD) and international partners.

The TGoNU is expected by end of December after first vice president, Riek Machar has been sworn in. The selection of ministries is seen as a test for two parties to the accord.

Lomoro said the “hard-liners” in both government and the opposition have a hard choice.

“Generally speaking, the program of our government is peace although you will find some people who are hardliners because they want to achieve the maximum,” he said.

The minister earlier called for dissolution of the mediation team his group, which allied to president Kiir’s government, was blocked from participating in the final round of talks.

OPPOSITION REFUTES INTERPRETATION

But the armed opposition faction, SPLM-IO, led by first vice president designate, Riek Machar, said the president has no power to control selection of the ministries, saying it will depend on whether they will be lucky to select ministries of foreign affairs, defence and interior.

“The peace agreement is very clear on the selection process of the ministries. Definitely, the government will have the opportunity to make the first selection from any of the three clusters of the ministries. If for instance they select ministry of defence first, they will not have power to also retain others such as foreign affairs and interior. The other three factions in their chance may take any of the ministries including the two,” explained Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak.

Dak predicted that in the first two rounds of selections of eight ministries which will involve the government, SPLM-IO, former detainees and political parties, the government may get two key ministries and lose six to the other three factions.

He also said the government will be a coalition of the four factions but with president and his two deputies, arguing that even if defence of foreign affairs went to one of the opposition factions wouldn’t mean president Kiir will not preside over such institutions.

He said holding some ministries as untouchable in the selection process would be a grave violation of the provision of the power sharing agreement.

(ST)