Ninety six days gone, ninety six hours remaining

By: Charles Lotara

With 96 days gone from the extended 100 days, only 96 hours are left on the clock till the new Transitional Government of National Unity is formed.

This comes as the signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement strive to meet the February 22nd deadline coupled with mounting pressure from the international community and regional peace partners.

President Salva Kiir defied odds and sent the nation in euphoria last weekend after announcing a return from the controversial 32 states to ten, a decision hailed by many as a huge leap toward lasting peace and stability.

Kiir’s bold move demonstrated the commitment of his administration to lasting peace and stability in the country, something he repeatedly said. While the President has branded himself to a peace-loving personality, opposition groups have been left gasping and presenting demands which are not sticky enough to prevent the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

The return to ten states has not only given a positive impression of Kiir’s leadership, but also placed the citizens on the lookout for peace spoilers. The formation of the new government is expected to pave way for highly anticipated elections slated for next year; a build-up moment such as this also serves as a guideline to the citizens on who to vote for. From the opinion poll, Kiir is already racing ahead of opponents who are still glued to their pride and ego.

Dr. Riek Machar’s post ten states demands though genuine, are a good example of issues that can be discussed when the new government is in place. It takes something more extraordinary for the formation of TGoNU to be adjourned; Machar’s additional demands cannot do it. Women have been praying, activists have been lobbying, and youths have been advocating, all in the name of lasting peace, stability and the prosperity of the country – they should not be robbed this time.

The possibility to integrate the two contested administrative areas can be assessed or addressed when the new government is formed in just four-day time. Like the President, opposition groups should compromise on some of these issues for the benefit of the citizens and progress of the nation.

Right after Kiir declared return to ten states, Dr. Lam Akol, leader of the Sudan People Liberation Movement – Democratic Change welcomed the compromise but he was quite equivocal for the same reasons highlighted by Machar.

Citizens’ expectations to see all outstanding matters ironed out shoot through the roof as the key principals meet in Juba, with only 96 hours left for the formation of new government that will pave way for the return of refugees and the Internally Displaced Persons.

The mood is geared toward peace, no turning back. A South Sudan with a distinctive and more attractive identity is just a few signatures away.

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