The South Sudanese warring parties meeting in Khartoum on Wednesday failed to agree to a power-sharing deal.
South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said the government agreed to create five vice president positions, including a first vice president, but opposition members rejected the proposal.
“Some few members from SSOA [South Sudan Opposition Alliance] were saying that it is not what they want. They want to see a very small, lean [government],” said Edmond Yakani, a member of the civil society delegation attending the talks.
Yakani said distrust between the parties made them unwilling to compromise. He also said some delegates are still putting their personal interests first, hoping to be included in the slate of Cabinet positions being discussed.
“You bring for them draft, the first thing they rush [for] is the numbers. What are the numbers, how is the numbers distributed, regardless of whether those numbers can help. This politics of numbers is very strong among political elite of South Sudan,” Yakani told VOA.
Agreement on other issues
Bishop Enock Tombe, who represented the South Sudan Council of Churches at the talks, praised Sudan for pushing the warring parties to agree on other key issues.
“Within a short time they have achieved 2½ agreements; the Khartoum declaration (on the) 27 of June, then the second one is the security arrangement and permanent cease-fire agreement. And now they are really working to finish the remaining work on the governance agreement,” Tombe told South Sudan in Focus.
Several sources at the talks said South Sudan’s parties might still sign a power-sharing agreement, although the talks were slated to end in Khartoum earlier this week.
Information Minister Makuei said the Kiir administration will not sign any agreement that fails to include the Entebbe power-sharing proposal, which increases the number of Cabinet ministers and members of parliament but, the opposition says, ignores the core issues that led to the eruption of war in the country.
“It is clear that it will not be possible for the government of South Sudan to sign such an agreement. Because, if we sign it, this agreement will be worse than even the agreement which we are trying to revitalize now,” Makuei told South Sudan in Focus. He said if the parties do not reach an agreement on power sharing, another summit should be arranged so that remaining issues can be resolved.
The warring parties are expected to continue negotiating in Kenya, but no dates have been announced for another round of talks.