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South Sudan Rebel Leader, Uganda's Museveni to Meet

  • James Butty

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 28, 2015.

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 28, 2015.

Former South Sudan Vice President and current rebel leader Riek Machar said he will ask Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to tell President Salva Kiir to scrap his decision to create 28 states because it is hindering implementation of the peace agreement.

The Ugandan leader is an influential member of the East African regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which played a key role in mediating last August's peace agreement.

Machar is scheduled to meet with Museveni Monday.

The meeting comes after both sides missed Saturday's deadline to form a national unity government as mandated in the agreement.

Amend constitution

Machar says the rebels first want to amend the current transitional constitution to incorporate last August's agreement, which recognizes only 10 states. But he said the South Sudan government wants to enshrine Kiir's 28 states in the new constitution.

"You know that even if you want to establish a company, you must have rules for establishing such a company. So the same for establishing a government, you need to have a constitution. In this case we need to amend the current transitional constitution so that it incorporates the agreement. The disagreement is that the government insists that the 28 states which they established 39 days after the agreement was signed, they insist that these 28 states be enshrined in the constitution. But the agreement says 10 states only," Machar said.

Ugandan troops are in South Sudan to prop up the South Sudanese government. President Museveni was influential in getting President Kiir to sign last August's peace agreement, after the South Sudanese leader had originally refused to sign the deal.

"I think it is time for President Yoweri Museveni to exercise his influence on President Kiir so that President Kiir drops the 28 states and we go forward and forge a constitution, and the transitional national assembly, then a government can be established," Machar said.

Reaction

South Sudan's information minister said Kiir's creation of 28 states does not hinder implementation of last August's peace agreement. Instead, Michael Makuei said the 28 states creation is an improvement of the peace deal because it benefits the rebels.

"If you go to the agreement you will find that whatever we have done is not a violation; it is an improvement, and it is an improvement to their interest because they will have six governors instead of having two; they will have 40 percent in 10 states instead of 40 percent in three," he said.

In addition, Makuei said the 28 states idea is popular with South Sudanese, and if the rebels want, the government is willing to provide funding to put the idea to a national referendum.

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