The transitional government of national unity (TGoNU) has not yet discussed and resolved on the fate of the controversial 28 states which were unilaterally decreed by former government of President Salva Kiir in violation of the August 2015 peace agreement, says an official of the armed opposition faction of the SPLM-IO.
There have been speculations that the new transitional cabinet composed of four rival factions or peace partners have sat on the fate of the 28 states and might have simply confirmed them in silence.
But media officials in the SPLM-IO under the leadership of the first vice-president, Riek Machar, dismissed the rumours as untrue, saying the matter was yet to be tackled by the new government.
“No, it is untrue. Nobody has confirmed the 28 states. The transitional unity government is expected to discuss the matter next week,” Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak, toldSudan Tribune when contacted whether or not the 28 states have been confirmed by the SPLM-IO’s leadership.
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), a body chaired by former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, to oversee the full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolutions of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), last week reminded that they could not recognize the 28 states and urged the parties to resolve the matter.
In January, the East African regional bloc, IGAD, issued a communiqué, calling on former President Kiir’s government to suspend the 28 states until the government is formed, which will decide the number of states.
IGAD also alternated that in case of disagreement by a boundary commission composed of membership of all parties to TGoNU, the new government should revert to the 10 states on which basis the peace deal, which ended two years of civil war, was signed.
However, the matter was not raised on Friday’s first council of ministers meeting of the new government.
Dak said the leadership of the SPLM-IO is committed to the peace agreement and its full implementation, adding that Machar has been reiterating his cooperation with the leaderships of the other partners in the agreement.
He added that state governments will not be formed until when the matter on the number of the states is addressed.
He also added that other contentious issues such as the cantonment of SPLA-IO forces across the country, including in the two regions of Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal, are expected to be discussed in the next cabinet meetings.