By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudanese parties to the conflict convened for a consultation meeting in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa to discuss the stalled security arrangement and the number of states.
This comes after Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, summoned representatives of the parties to the revitalized peace agreement to converge at the Ethiopian capital on August 20 – 21.
The security arrangement and the states border are tasks that were meant to be completed within the pre-transitional period.
According to the program seen by Pan African Visions, the consultation meeting will listen to reports from the National Pre-Transitional Committee, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, and the Revitalized Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission.
The participants shall also go into closed-door meetings to discuss the “Security Arrangements Implementation, its challenges and the way forward.” This meeting is intended to review progress made during the pre-transitional period which is about to elapse.
In May, President Kiir and main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar extended the pre-transition period after falling to implement the security arrangement such as cantonment of forces, screening, reunification and deployment.
However, the parties are left with less than three months to complete these tasks and to form the unity transitional government.
President Kiir’s group is headed by the Minister of Information, who is also the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth.
“We are going for this meeting to go and thrash out some of the outstanding issues and we identified the challenges and see how best we will address them,” Makuei said quoted by Eye Radio.
The parties shall also listen to a summary report of the Independent Boundaries Commission, a report which has already been submitted to the parties. The body recently completed its finding on the number of states needed in the next transitional period.
But Makuei said this report was submitted late, thus hindering the parties from properly scrutinizing the document.
“They only gave us…a copy to each party yesterday [Monday, Aug 19]. They have not yet reproduced the official copy to the members, so I doubt if we are going to discuss the report of the IBC,” Said Makuei. “They should have given to the parties earlier so that they discuss and come out with their positions,” He added.
Meanwhile, the government, including other opposition groups, says the parties to agree are not expected to extend the pre-transitional period beyond November 2019.
The SSOA, SPLM-IO, FDs and the incumbent government are expected to share various portfolios in the next coalition government -at the national and state levels.
President Kiir and Dr. Machar as First Vice President are expected to lead a government of national unity with four other Vice Presidents represented by the Former Detainees and the Opposition Alliance.
The main task of the unity government is to restore permanent and sustainable peace, stability and security in the Horn of Africa’s country.
Dr. Machar has repeatedly led descending voices not to form the government without proper security measures as guaranteed in the security arrangements, argued that they want a well- trained and unified security sector that can “guarantee the stability” of the next power sharing government.
Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, South Sudan Opposition Alliance’s leader said any further delay will not be in the interest of the ordinary person.
“I think the public is putting pressure that we need to implement this peace in latter and spirit, and the extension is non-renewable,” said Bakosoro. “We are going to table that and see what is the next move. Of course, we put the interest of the public first rather than the interest of the individual.”
IGAD also extended the invitation to local pressure groups or civil society groups to act as observers during the discussions.
This is a first evaluation meeting of the parties to the revitalized peace agreement since the extension of the timeline in May this year.
The one-day consultation discussions will be addressed by IGAD Executive Secretary, representatives of Troika [US, UK and Norway], China, EU, UN, AU, IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, and the Chairperson of IGAD Council of Ministers.