December 18, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has passed a resolution renewing its demand that president Salva Kiir steps down, despite previous indications by officials from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that the two principal leaders agreed to work together for the sake of sustaining peace.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on 12 December 2013 (Photo: AP/Sayyid Azim)
As details of the final 9-page resolutions which Machar signed emerge, the SPLM-IO in the Pagak conference declared president Salva Kiir illegitimate for the “Juba genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during this current war” and therefore does not deserve to lead a transitional period.
The resolutions seen by Sudan Tribune also resolved that there shall be two separate armies with their respective commanders in chief during a 2 or 3 years of transitional period until elections are conducted.
It also reaffirmed the proposed leadership structure to comprise the president as head of state, with some executive powers, and the prime minister as head of government, taking majority of the executive powers, including the power to chair the council of minister.
Previously a power-sharing arrangement presented by the top rebel leader to the IGAD mediation in Addis Ababa before their conference in Pagak compromised that the president would chair the council of ministers.
However when reached on Thursday to clarify the circumstances surrounding what seemed to be a change of position in the rebel group, particularly on the renewed call for president Kiir to step aside, Machar’s spokesman said the decision had been intact all along and was only relaxed during the peace process.
“Initially we wanted Salva Kiir to immediately step down because of the Juba genocide in December last year. We demanded that he stepped down before the peace talks kicked off in January,” said the rebel leader’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak.
“We however made a compromise by relaxing this demand during the peace process. We have continued to negotiate with president Salva Kiir and his regime. Our leadership has been working with him as a counter-part in order to bring peace but not for him to lead the would-be transitional period,” he further explained.
Dak said there seemed to be a misunderstanding by some who thought that when the rebel group talked of sharing power with the president, it automatically meant president Kiir.
“When we talk of power-sharing between the president and the prime minister, we talk of a leadership structure, not personalities. We don’t automatically attach such positions to particular personalities,” he further explained.
He also reiterated the opposition group’s demand to head the government, saying this was to ensure that the “badly needed reforms, initiated and championed” by the SPLM-IO, would be implemented.
The rebel group demands that the executive powers and responsibilities be attached to the prime minister – a position the two parties agreed to establish during the interim period – just like in the parliamentary regime.
Dak further defended the necessity to have two separate armies, saying this would also ensure confidence building during the transitional period as well as deter each side from reneging on a peace agreement or resorting to “witch-hunting and violence.”
Juba however passed counter-resolutions on 24 November rejecting to share executive powers with the prime minister, a nominee of the rebels, and dismissed any attempt to institute two armies during a transitional period.
The two warring parties were set to resume the peace talks on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but government delegation did not show up, prompting IGAD mediators to reschedule the talks for Thursday.