Formation of joint South Sudan government set to delay

Tuesday January 19 2016

The formation of the South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity that was set for launch on January 22 is likely to delay after the two key partners differed over recently established 18 new states.

While President Salva Kiir maintains that the decision to form the additional states in October is irrevocable, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by Dr Riek Machar says it presents a barrier to the implementation of the peace agreement that was based on 10 existing states.

President Kiir says the presidential decree to increase states for 10 to 28 was as a result of peoples’ demand since independence in July 2011.

Dr Machar has since recalled 40 members of his advance team from Juba to Pagak for consultations which will continue till Thursday January 21. The government has, responding to the recall, delayed the naming of its 16 members of the cabinet.

READ: South Sudan rebel team in Juba to prepare for joint govt

On January 7, the four partners to the peace deal agreed to share ministerial posts – the government took 16 ministerial posts, SPLM-IO 10 while the former detainees and other political parties got two posts each.


READ: South Sudan factions agree on sharing power

Dr Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told The EastAfrican that it would be difficult to constitute the transitional government by January 22 because there are a number of outstanding issues in the first phase of the implementation of the peace agreement.

Among them, he says, is the amendment of the transitional constitution which should then be passed by a new expanded parliament, withdrawal of government forces from Juba, and joint police and military forces from both sides put in place. These prerequisites were supposed to be implemented in the first 90 days after the  South Sudan Compromise Peace Agreement that was signed in August 2015. 

“A transitional government will be formed on the basis of a new constitution, but the amendment has not yet been completed. This is because the government has been insisting on incorporating 28 states that were unilaterally created into the constitution,” said Mr Dak.

Mr Dak also added that the government and the SPLM-IO are yet to agree on the cantonment areas for the forces of both sides that is essential for the implementation of the security arrangements, as well as the demilitarisation of Juba.

The government says it has no money to carry out the demilitarisation and has appealed to donors to help it set up camps for soldiers outside Juba. According to the compromise peace agreement, the rival forces are expected to assemble in specific location across the country, but at 25km radius of Juba pending their unification into one national army in the 18 months.

Machar's return

The latest developments means that Dr Machar is not likely to return to Juba soon. According to Adel Sandrai, who was one of the 50 SPLM-IO nominated members of parliament, the arrival of the first vice president designate is dependent on the full implementation of the security arrangement agreement signed in Addis Ababa.

South Sudan's vice president James Wani Igga—who is designated as the second vice president in the peace agreement—has instead urged Dr Machar’s return to Juba as soon as possible in order to speed up the formation of the transitional government, otherwise his continued stay outside Juba is likely to send wrong signal of distrust, he says.

The latest developments puts Festus Mogae, a former Bostwana president who is chairing the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), in dilemma. While Dr Machar’s group has been urging him to make a ruling on the 28 states, Mr Mogae is instead urging the two parties to reach a consensus on the 28 states outside the agreement schedule and name their members of cabinet to enable the country form a transitional government by the set date.