Friday, June 03, 2016

President Kiir’s Advisor Says No Consensus to Review 28 States
June 2, 2016 (JUBA) – A senior presidential advisor allied to President Salva Kiir, has denied any consensus reached by the presidency to review the number of states in the country, saying the President had no power to reverse the 28 states as the matter had allegedly been in the hands of the people.

In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune on Thursday, Presidential Advisor on Decentralization and Intergovernmental Linkages, Tor Deng Mawien, a relative to President Kiir, said the committee agreed on Wednesday by the presidency to be formed will only work on the boundaries of the 28 states but not to temper with their numbers.

Mawien totally dismissed the joint spoken statement which First Vice President, Riek Machar and Vice President, James Wani, issued to the public on Wednesday after the presidency meeting.

In the joint statement to the press by the two deputies after the meeting, a committee of 15 members will be constituted from all the parties to the August 2015 peace agreement and from the international partners to come up with recommendation on the number of new states and determine their boundaries.

“We discussed the issue of the 28 states. We decided to tackle this through a committee. That committee will be composed of 15 members…So that they can work on the number of states, review them and they come up with recommendation on the number of the states and this will be within 30 days. Within 30 days this work will be done,” said First Vice President, Riek Machar, in a press statement to the media, also broadcasted on the South Sudan TV (SSTV) on Wednesday evening.

Machar said the 15 members of the committee will include 10 South Sudanese from the parties in the peace deal and 5 others from the international partners. He added that they would ask South Africa and Tanzania to bring in two members from their countries.

He also said the presidency agreed to release prisoners of war and to budget for establishment of cantonment areas for the forces across the country.

Also, Vice President, James Wani, who held the joint spoken statement with Machar, confirmed the outcome of the presidency meeting with President Kiir’s participation.

“Really, I have nothing to say further, what the First Vice President has just articulated is absolutely in place. These are the issues we agreed on,” Vice President Wani said.

“But one would want to underline the fact that the meeting of today by the three of us has been one of the most successful meetings,” Wani added.

However, the presidential advisor, Mawien, who did not attend the presidency meeting, said reviewing the number of the states was not agreed in the presidency.

“As far as I know there were only three important issues which the President with First Vice President and the Vice President have discussed and reached a consensus. The meeting of the three leaders which took place yesterday afternoon was very important. It resolved that cantonment sites for SPLM-IO forces will be established in the country. This means some places will be identified as areas of assembling points in Equatoria and other places in the country. The meeting also resolved to release prisoners of war and to lift the state of emergency. These were the issues which were discussed. There was no consensus on the number of states,” presidential advisor, Mawien, said on Thursday when asked to comment on the latest political development.

Mawien further explained that the issue of the number of the states was no longer in the hand of the president for him to decide whether to reverse the order or not.

“I think the issue of the states is no longer with the president. It has left his hand and it is now owned by the people themselves. If there are people who still want this issue to be discussed again, or if they want the number of states to be reduced or expanded, they should now talk to the people and see what the people will say in this regard. What the committee will do is to review borders and make necessary recommendations on how issues relating to borders can be resolved amicably,” explained Mawien.

The decision of the three leaders has also received mixed reactions from the public with opposition figures insisting on the revocation of the establishment order, asserting that the agreement was signed on the basis of ten states in addition to the fact that the decision itself was not constitutional in the first place.

Onyoti Adigo, the Minority Leader in the national parliament from Democratic Change party, said Thursday his party would continue to reject the implementation of 28 states because it violated the peace agreement.

“I understand that political parties will be represented in the committee. For us, we will not nominate a member to participate unless the terms of reference are clarified. We need to know the work of the committee itself first and when it will start work. When this is clarified, we will nominate,” said Adigo.

The opposition figure asserted that the establishment order unilaterally issued by Pesident Kiir to expand the number of states to 28 from 10 was issued without carrying out studies so that the views of the people at the grassroots levels were incorporated.

“No studies were carried out. It was a decision of certain people who wanted to sabotage South Sudan like now. There are problems caused by the 28 states. The current economic crisis is one of them. As we speak there are people who did not get salaries for three months, four months and two months, it is a problem of 28 states,” he said.

“There is no money. If there is no money to pay employees where will the budget come to establish all these states? It is not economically a viable decision.”

He said his party has not stopped rejecting the creation of more states, adding that they will stick to the 10 states.

“Of course we are still rejecting it until now, we will not accept 28 states, now there is no room for 28 states or 13 states or 50 states, and we demand 10 states according to the agreement,” he added.

President Kiir on 2 October 2015 issued an establishment order announcing the creation of 28 states. He later issued another order appointing governors to run the new states even after he signed the peace agreement based on 10 states with the armed opposition faction under the leadership of Machar.

Critics say the 28 states, which gave the ethnic Dinka almost half of the country’s states, is meant to grab other communities’ lands in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions and annex them to the Dinka lands.

Proponents however argue that the decision was made in accordance with the will of the people.


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