9 January 2016

South Sudan: Finally, South Sudan to Form Interim Govt

Photo: Jacob Zocherman/IRIN
Victims of South Sudan's civil war: Civilians wait to collect their rations at a United Nations facility.

The South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity will be formed on January 22 after the four partners to the peace deal agreed on sharing ministerial portfolios.

The four partners -- the government, Sudanese People's Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO), former detainees and other political parties -- struck the deal on Thursday in a meeting held under the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) led by the former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae.

After four days of haggling, it was finally agreed on January 7 that the government will take 16 ministerial posts and SPLM-IO 10 while the former detainees and other political parties got two posts each.

The mood in Juba is that every group is satisfied with the posts they got although there was an earlier attempt by the government to negotiate with other stakeholders outside the cluster given by the Inter-Governmental Authority of Development (Igad)-brokered peace agreement.

Igad had divided the 30 ministerial posts into Governance, Security and Services, yet when it came to implementation, there was competition over key ministries namely Foreign Affairs, Finance, Petroleum, Internal Security and Defence.

While the government got key ministries such as Finance and Planning, Defence and Veterans' Affairs; it was cancelled out be giving SPLM-IO equally key posts of Petroleum and Interior, while the former detainees got Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and Transport; and the other political parties were rewarded with ministries of Cabinet Affairs and Agriculture and Food Security.

"Peace has finally come to South Sudan after a long wait. We are satisfied that the ministerial portfolios were shared according to the percentages set by the agreement and it is now up to the leadership of various groups to put the names to the posts," said South Sudan deputy ambassador to Kenya, James Morgan, who though noted that there are still some challenges to be overcome.

The two most pressing challenges, according to Mr Morgan is that many people were mobilised during the war and given guns, so there are so many guns in the wrong hands which could pose a threat to the smooth implementation of the agreement.

Secondly, the group that split from Dr Machar in July still poses a threat even though a fraction of it comprising six generals led by Gatkouth Gatkouth Nyang have initiated what they call a South-South Dialogue with the government.

On Monday, the group under the name Federal Democratic Party/ South Sudan Armed Forces (FDP/SSAF), sent a delegation to Juba to present demands to President Kiir that if accepted would see them join the peace process.

Speaking in Nairobi early Monday, Gen Nyang said that FDP/SSAF believes that the peace deal signed in August last year left out other armed groups and failed to address the root causes of the conflict.

"We want a comprehensive peace deal involving all those with grievances and not a compromise that is simply meant to share power. We did not take up arms so that Dr Machar can become the vice president but to address all the issues that have seen South Sudan remain in constant conflict," said Gen Nyang.

In its memoranda to President Kiir, FDP/SSAF demands that circumstances that led to the killing of about 50,000 Nuer in Juba in December 2013 be addressed, the prosecution of 75 government officials who had been identified by the government for corruption and the restitution of money looted from the government between 2006 and 2013.

They also demanded that the peace agreement address the issue of constant insecurity and how to govern the country after two years of disruption.

Since they broke away from Dr Machar in July, the government has been negotiating with the group in Nairobi for the past six months due to what Mr Morgan said were concerns by President Kiir that some groups were left out and yet they had their own grievances.

"We are ready to sign a separate agreement in order to bring everybody on board," said Mr Morgan.

FDP/SSAF demands

Gen Nyang maintains that they are not interested in positions and will continue to fight if President Kiir does not respond positively to their demands.

Mabior Garang de Mabior, the SPLM-IO director of communications and public relations told The EastAfrican that it is a good move if the group joins the government because the agreement provided for only four groups and left out others.

"The government is already our partners in the peace agreement and therefore FDP/SSAF will become our partners too," said Mr Mabior.

The group had on December 25 last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government in Nairobi as basis for negotiations.

Yet, there are indications that Peter Gatdet Yak, chairman of the military command council of the military wing of FDP/SSAF and Gabriel Changson Chang, the political leader of the group, are not comfortable with the decision to send a team to Juba.

Mr Chang has since disowned the rapport with government.

Still, the peace process continues to experience positive developments with President Kiir approving 50 members of parliament who were nominated by Dr Riek Machar.

According to the South Sudan Compromise Peace Agreement, all the MPs whose membership were revoked when they joined the rebels after war broke out in 2013 will be reinstated, bringing the total number of MPs to 400.

The SPLM has also concerned an extra-ordinary conventions to bring together the three factions of the party that emerged when the war broke out, in line with the Arusha Accord which in February 2015 recommended the reunification of SPLM as the first step towards peace.

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