Could fresh tussle for delegates in South Sudan roll back peace gains?

Monday May 18 2020

Dr Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (right) and First Vice President Riek Machar. Signatories to the South Sudan peace agreement are split over the allocation of states. PHOTO | FILE | NATION EMDIA GROUP 

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Signatories to the South Sudan peace agreement are now split in the middle as President Salva Kiir has managed to pull some opposition parties to his side over the allocation of states.

In focus is President Kiir’s decision to allocate Dr Riek Machar’s Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) governorship of states where he has no militarily presence and people’s support.

President Kiir allocated SPLM-IO Jonglei, Western Bahr El Ghazal and Western Equatoria State, forcing Dr Machar to reject the allocations. He argues that this is contrary to Chapter 4 of the revitalised agreement that had allocated him Upper Nile, Lakes and Eastern Equatoria.


Experts say the strategy is to ensure that Dr Machar does not use his support in the three states to create a standoff similar to the July 2016, or use them as a base for secession should the transitional government collapse.

The chairman of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), Gen Augustino Njoroge, has now written to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development Igad heads of state to convene an extraordinary meeting and make a decision on the issue, after he received letters of complaints from four parties.


“It is, therefore, evident that the parties have failed to resolve the deadlock over the allocation of states, including which party takes which state, and have also rejected the RJMEC chairperson’s recommendation offered to them. I hereby pursuant to Article7.11 refer this matter to the Igad heads of states as guarantors to the peace agreement,” wrote Gen Njoroge.

The challenge is that with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been difficult for regional leaders to hold a face-to-face meeting and it could take a while for the stalemate to be resolved.

“The article dealing with the power-sharing at the level of states and local government “gives the Parties the competence to allocate the States and Counties and not the Presidency. The article also makes it clear that the prominence of Parties in each State must influence the choice of the States,” said Dr Machar in his letter.

The SSOA faction supporting President Kiir, argued that SPLM-IO should understand that the state that falls under their authority will be governed as a part of the country and not as independent or autonomous states.

Dr Lam Akol, the secretary general of SSOA, told The EastAfrican that taking away the quota allocated to OPP in responsibility-sharing is tantamount to a violation of the agreement.

He suggested that the only way forward is to explicitly place the responsibility of allocating State and Local Government positions in the hands of the Parties and not the Presidency, as per the Article 1.16.4 of the agreement.