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SPLM-IO sets new condition for states gov’t formation

South Sudan NEWS PORTAL (JUBA CITY)

First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar addresses a press conference jointly with President Salva Kiir (not seen) at the State House in Juba, on February 20, 2020 (Photo: via Getty Images)

First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar addresses a press conference jointly with President Salva Kiir (not seen) at the State House in Juba, on February 20, 2020 (Photo: via Getty Images)

JUBA – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), has set a new precondition for the formation of states government, according to a senior opposition official.

The parties to the revitalized peace agreement last week agreed to the allocation of states which has been one of the sticking points in the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

The SPLM-IO and President Kiir’s group have been feuding over who takes what states prolonging the formation of the state governments, which is seen by the UN mission in the country and other peace sponsors, as a solution to the rising ethnic violence in the states.

Speaking to Sudans Post on Thursday, a senior member of the SPLM-IO said the group has informed the parties to the government of its decision to have the parliament reconstituted before the formation of state governments.

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) has informed our peace partners in the SPLM-IG that states governments should not be formed unless the parliament has been reconstituted,” the official said from Juba on condition of anonymity.”

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“The government has been buying time in the entire implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. For example, the disagreement over the number of states took us more than one year. The government eventually agreed to return the country to 10 states.

“Again, the government disagreed with us over who takes what ministry in the national government, they initially gave us the ministries we wanted after many months of discussion,” the SPLM-IO official added.

The official said the government was refusing the reconstituting the Transitional National Legislature because it wants to buy more time and said the main armed opposition group has made it clear that it will not accept the formation of state governments unless the parliament has been reconstituted.

“The government reneged over the allocation of states. It wanted to take all the oil-producing states and eventually, gave up on Upper Nile. Now, the government is saying ‘let us form the state governments and then we negotiate on the matter of the parliament’ which we have rejected totally,” the official said.

The latest condition from the SPLM-IO comes amid rising pressure from the international community for South Sudan parties to form the state governments because ethnic violence was rising at an alarming rate in the states since the beginning of the year.

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Rival communities in Jonglei state – the Murle, the Nuer, and Dinka – have been attacking each other resulting in the killing of over 300 people in April this year including members of the humanitarian organization working in the area.

UN calls for inclusive governments

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan, the Troika, and the European Union have constantly been calling on the SPLM-IO and the government of President Salva Kiir to end to ethnic violence which has so far raised fears that the relative peace which has been experienced by the world’s youngest country since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement would unravel.

This week, the UN chief in South Sudan, David Shearer told the Security Council that members of the world’s youngest country’s organized forces were joining the conflict urging the parties to timely form the state governments in an inclusive manner.

“The political impasse, on top of the COVID lockdown, has caused the conflict to escalate with violent incidents multiplying fourfold in two years,” Shearer told the UNSC via a video conference briefing earlier this week.

“This violence can no longer be pigeonholed as ‘inter-communal’. Fighters in uniform have been spotted suggesting that organized forces may be joining the conflict which risks unraveling the ceasefire,” he stressed.

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Threats to peace

Shearer further added that “the real threat to the people of South Sudan lies in the collapse of the already fragile health system. This could result in many, many more lives being lost – a tragedy that can be prevented.”

The SPLM-IO is a main signatory to the revitalized peace agreement and different originating from it always has been a pressure to the other main signatory, the government of President Salva Kiir.

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