The East African bloc that led nearly two years of peace talks for South Sudan has called on President Salva Kiir to put on hold an order expanding the number of states in South Sudan from 10 to 28.
In a memo released on Saturday and seen this week by South Sudan in Focus, IGAD said the decision to reconfigure South Sudan’s internal boundaries and expand the number of states violates the peace deal for the young country.?
IGAD said the move detracts from the role that the transitional government of national unity is supposed to play once it is finally set up, and contradicts the position the government held during 19 months of peace talks.
Mr. Kiir’s negotiating team at the talks rejected a proposal by the armed opposition led by Riek Machar side to increase the number of states from 10 to 21, IGAD said.
IGAD said it was agreed at the talks that creating more states and devolving power from the central government to the states was something that should be written into a permanent constitution. One of the main tasks of the transitional government will be to draft that new constitution.
IGAD also said the two sides agreed at the talks that new states should be created with the consent and direct participation of the people of South Sudan - not by a presidential order.
IGAD warned that forging ahead with Mr. Kiir's Oct. 2 order to create more states could open a "Pandora’s box of further and endless negotiations on the implementation of the peace agreement."
South Sudan cabinet validates state creation
In spite of IGAD’s stern criticism of President Kiir’s order, the South Sudanese cabinet adopted the order creating the new states during an extraordinary meeting of the council of ministers on Tuesday.
Information Minister Michael Makuei said the entire cabinet stands behind the president’s decision to create new states.
The presidential order is supposed to take effect at the beginning of November - 30 working days after it was announced.
IGAD also called in the memo for rebels loyal to Machar to join Mr. Kiir's government and agree to the security provisions that were hammered out at workshops in Addis Ababa last month.
Among those provisions is the demilitarization of Juba and the deployment in the capital of a joint force drawn from the government and opposition sides, to ensure security while the country works through a transitional period.
IGAD says that failure to accept the security arrangements will delay the delivery to the people of South Sudan of the peace dividend they deserve after nearly two years of conflict.
IGAD also called on the international community to give technical and financial support to the two sides in South Sudan’s conflict so that they are able to implement the peace deal.
Both South Sudanese Vice President James Wani Igga and Machar told VOA last week during a visit to Washington that they cannot start implementing the peace deal - and particularly some of the transitional security arrangements - because they do not have the funds to do so.