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Opposition drops bombshell on number of States

By Nema Juma

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) has dropped a bombshell after shockingly revealing that the party had proposed 21 States for the people of South Sudan, dashing out public guess that the antagonistic group was routing for 10 States.

The number of States remained one of the most contentious issues to the revitalized peace process and a senior official said the opposition group arrived at the decision after giving consideration to the historical and colonial set up of the country.

Speaking to Juba Monitor, Director for Information and Public Relations for SPLA-IO, Puok Both Baluang said when the number of States was inflated by the government last year; it was against the will of the people of South Sudan.

South Sudan had 10 States prior to the outbreak of conflict in December 2013 before a drastic increase to 28 and subsequently 32 through unprecedented presidential decrees by that time.

When Baluang blames the government for failing to table the decision to proliferate the number of States before parliament for discussion; one finds it ironic that opposition’s proposed figure was established with neither consultation with parliament nor the people of South Sudan.

The opposition Spokesman reiterated that boundary demarcation and number of States should be the will of South Sudanese but did not clarify whether his party shall table the proposed 21 states to the people of South Sudan and parliament.

“We know that the independence of South Sudan was by the will of the people because there was a Referendum. However, there was no Referendum that was taken during the creation of 28 States. We know all that,” Baluang said.

Baluang claimed that when the government proliferated the number of states, parliamentarians had no say over the decision because there was no consultation with the latter.

“So, the majority of the people didn’t like the formation of the 32 States because there was no any reference. So, know that whether it is historical or not, we had created 21 States because we feel that this is the demand of the people of South Sudan.

“For us to have peace in the country we need to implement the issues of security arrangements and the State boundary or the number of States,” Baluang said.

Meanwhile, Baluang backed the demand by opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar for the extension of revitalized peace process deadline saying it is genuine.

He said more time will allow the establishment of solid mechanisms vital for the implementation of the agreement signed in 2018.

He added that security arrangements are equally crucial for the long lasting success of the agreement when implemented.

“Security will not happen or materialize in this country without the implementation mechanism that security arrangement article stipulates in the agreement,” he said.

Baluang said proper and genuine peace agreement will put an end to the long suffering of South Sudanese people displaced within and outside the country as a result of arm-induced conflict.

“We need a government that would protect South Sudanese, the government that would provide them security. Unfortunately this is not what we are currently seeing with the incumbent government,” he said.

“We see that the people of South Sudan have suffered enough and now is the time that we should give the treatment that our people deserve. This is a time for South Sudanese to leave without any scare from any human being, to stay happily because what the people of South Sudan are going through is beyond imagination,” Baluang added.

He further appealed to the people of South Sudan that the SPLM/IO will take its commitment in the implementation of peace as agreed, adding that this is the last agreement to bring back displaced citizens and have their dignity restored.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft expressed disappointment and shock over the demand made by Dr. Machar saying the people of South Sudan cannot wait any longer.

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