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Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, with First Vice President Riek Machar and other members of the Transitional Government of National Unity/Photo: Nektarios Markogiannis/UNMISS

South Sudan: President Kiir’s Officials Clash Over Lifespan of Transition Period

January 8, 2021

By Deng Machol

Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, with First  Vice President Riek Machar and other members of the Transitional Government of National Unity/Photo: Nektarios Markogiannis/UNMISS
Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, with First Vice President Riek Machar and other members of the Transitional Government of National Unity/Photo: Nektarios Markogiannis/UNMISS

Juba – South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir’s officials publicly disagreed on the government’s position regarding the life span of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNoU), aimed at ending the bloodshed in  East Africa’s youngest nation.

South Sudan Presidential Spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny told Eyeradio, local – based radio that warring parties to the revitalized peace agreement had agreed to extend the Transitional Period up to 2023 to allow full implementation of critical tasks.

According to president Kiir’s press secretary the parties cannot accomplish the tasks ahead of them within the 36 months, adding that the decision was not taken by the Presidency but all parties reached “consensus and agreed that the end of the transition will be 2023 because the end of the 2022 and beginning of 2023, that is where the election will be run to achieve peace.”

“It is not the Presidency that has decided but it is the implementation matrix given that they have lost some months in the Pre-Transitional Period. “All of them [parties] by consensus has agreed that the end of the transition will be 2023 because the end of the 2022 and beginning of 2023, that is where the election will be run to achieve peace,” Ateny told Eye Radio, this week.

Ateny added that Peace is not easy and peace is not an overnight event.

“Peace is a process and even the implementation is a process so people should not expect it as a free lunch. It has time in order for it to happen and become mature,” Ateny said.

However, Parties to the revitalized peace agreement have distanced themselves on the plan to extend the transitional period.

And president Kiir’s media aide statement was vehemently denied by the country’s information Minister Michael Makuei.

In reaction, Transitional government’s Spokesperson Makuei said there was “nothing as such”, distancing government from his counterparts decision.

“I said no, check your sources, nothing as such,” said Makuei, quoted by Eye Radio.

According to the implementation matrix of the peace deal, signed in September 2018, many provisions should have been implemented by now. These include the reconstitution of the transitional national legislature, the reunification of forces, the full establishment of state governments and the constitutional making process, and the economic sector reforms.

In May 2019, the pre-transitional period was extended by six months, after the main opposition leader – Dr. Riek Machar – requested for more time to implement key parts of the security arrangements.

At the end of the six months, they again extended the pre-transitional period by 100 days.

It ended in February 2020 when President Salva Kiir appointed opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar and other vice presidents—beginning the three-year Transitional Period.

But nearly one year after the presidency and the cabinet were formed, the Transition Government of National Unity is yet to be fully established.

The implementation of peace accord has been stalled as the signatories have failed to adhere to the deadlines set in the peace agreement and have backtracked on aspects of its political, security and economic provisions, according to the UN experts.

The unified army is not yet deployed as their graduation has been postponed several times.

State and local government structures are yet to be established. One of the ten-state governors is still not appointed.

Only late last year, a parties reached compromise on a prolonged stalemate on formation of states governments and reconstitution of the National Legislative Assembly, much needed to support the agreement and enact legislation that enables and assists the transitional processes and reforms ahead of the proposed national elections.

The peace deal mandates the unity government to hold elections sixty days before the end of the Transitional Period in 2022 to establish a democratically elected government. However, major components in the unity governments are far from over.

The observers urge the parties to the peace deal to respect the deadline, arguing that only elections will restore peace and stability that will lead to entire reform in the country.

South Sudan erupted into civil war after two year of her independence from Sudan in 2011, the five – year conflict lead to an estimated 400,000 deaths and uprooted four million people from their homes, before devastating the country’s economy, one of the worst refugee crises in East Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Once implemented, the deal will help to restore permanent and sustainable peace, security, and stability in the restive country.

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