9th April 2020
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Machar’s group undecided over referendum for number of states

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Dr Machar is flanked by government and his guards, Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 | Credit | Woja Emmanuel/Eye Radio

The SPLM-IO has said it has not yet decided on whether a referendum would be an option to determine the number and boundaries of the States as suggested by the government.

Last week, the Council of Minister hinted that it would support a general referendum to break the deadlock over whether to maintain or reduce the 32 States.

In November, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar extended-for the second time-the per-transitional period by 100 days to allow for the completion of the remaining tasks.

The number and boundaries of the States and the security arrangements are among the tasks that are meant to be completed before February next year.

A three-day meeting last week-to reach a political compromise on the issue of States ended without an agreement.

In response, President Kiir reportedly shared his concerns with the Cabinet on Friday, where they decided that only a referendum can reverse the structures currently existence in the country.

The cabinet argued that a referendum will avoid a crisis and insecurity that may potentially jeopardize the implementation of the peace agreement.

But the SPLM-IO says a referendum would mean extending the pre-transitional period again.

According to Manawa Peter, who is the SPLM-IO’s Deputy Head of Information Committee, the parties still have a week to come up with a final position on the number and boundaries of the States.

“We have not reached that conclusion of a referendum because there are three proposals, all the parties agreed on 23 States, plus 1 [Abyei], but for the government rather than coming down from the 32 States, they have suggested 52 States,” Manawa said on Tuesday.

“So we agreed last week that after 10 days, we shall come and make the final decision. If the government refuses the decision of the IGAD-Plus Committee, then we shall see what do with the issue of a referendum.”

However, Manawa stated that if the parties settle on a referendum, it would require the extension of the pre-transitional period again.

“One of the key issues for the SPLM-IO is that we cannot form a government of national unity without handling the issue of the number and boundaries of the States,” Manawa reiterated.

Chapter One of the revitalized peace suggests the evoking of a referendum in the unlikely event of the Independent Boundary Committee failing to make its final report before the end of its term.

The IBC after being transformed into a Referendum Commission on Number and Boundaries of States is required to conduct the poll before the end of the agreed Pre-Transitional Period.

In the meantime, President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar, who arrived in Juba on Tuesday, are expected to meet and discuss a compromise over the pending issues that have hit a deadlock.

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