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Kiir “tactically withdrew” from talks to consult people

Authors: Obaj Okuj | Ruot George | Okot Emmanuel | Jale Richard | Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Some of the pro-32+ states President Kiir addressed on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 | Credit | Okot Emmanuel/Eye Radio

President Salva Kiir has told hundreds of his supporters that he will consult them on the contentious issue of the number and boundaries of the states.

Kiir arrived Juba on Tuesday afternoon, after he and the leader of the opposition, Dr. Riek Machar, failed to reach an agreement on the number of states and boundaries over the weekend.

While in Addis Ababa, President Kiir and Dr. Machar held a discussion on the matter after the IGAD recommended a proposal to reduce the number of states, which the government rejected.

President Kiir requested IGAD to give him more time to consult with his people on the issue.

Speaking to hundreds of people who gathered in Juba International Airport this afternoon, Kiir said the government will consult their people on the matter.

“The fighting (heated discussions) is heavy. So when the fighting is heavy, you do a tactical withdrawal to reorganize yourself and come back when you are prepared,” he explained.

“I fought it with my team who went with me. Therefore, the rest is for you all. I have withdrawn so that I come and join you; to come and look into the issue with you.”

Those who gathered at the airport included the 32 governors, national ministers, members of parliament, local chiefs, youth and women.

They cheered on the president, encouraged him to keep the current 32 states plus Abyei.

Some of them carried banners with writings: “Youth reject reduction of 32 states plus Abyei Administrative Area”.

“We are saying 32 states are here to stay and if there is any modification to these 32 states plus Abyei, we only call for the creation of more states,” one supporter told Eye Radio.

Meanwhile internally displaced persons sheltering at UN protected camps in Juba demonstrated in support for the 10 states.

They marched from their camps to the office of the UN chief in Juba, and delivered a petition letter demanding implementation of the security arrangements and a return to the former ten states.

“Your Excellency, allow us to convey our message demanding ten states and implementation of security arrangement for the other foundations of the agreement,” a representative of the demonstrators, Tek Chan, read out the petition.

“We are demanding ten states because they unite us in our diversity whereby different tribes live peacefully in one state and their geographical boundaries are clear.”

Other IDPs in Bentiu and Bor also came out to demonstrate in support of formation of the long-awaited unity government.

However, several observers have questioned Kiir’s idea of consulting the people, given the fact that he did not do so when he created the 32 states through a presidential decree.

The peace parties are expected to form a unity government by the end of next week.

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