Date: 1 November 2019
Today, the NDM came across a Presidential Order issued by President Salva Kiir Mayardit on “the formation of a Committee to look into the Number of States and Boundaries in the Republic of South Sudan, 2019 A.D.” The Order is dated 18 October 2019. Such an Order is ultra vires, has no basis in the Agreement and is faulty in both form and content.
It is faulty in form because the President of the Incumbent Government in South Sudan has no authority over the Signatories of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). In fact, the government itself is just one of the five political signatories (Parties) to R-ARCSS and cannot thus be a neutral arbiter on matters connected with implementation of the Peace Agreement. Only the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) which includes all the Parties under a new Transitional Constitutional has the mandate to do so. Therefore, the President of the Incumbent Government has usurped powers that were not his. The Articles quoted in the Order are totally irrelevant.
It is faulty in content because the issue of the number of States and their boundaries was dealt with under Article 1.15 of R-ARCSS. The Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) tasked to deal with the matter under Article 1.15.7 rendered its final report to the IGAD Executive Secretary on the 20th of June 2019 in accordance with Article 1.15.10 which reads: “The recommendations of the IBC shall be presented to the IGAD Executive Secretariat and shall be immediately communicated to the Parties”. Nowhere in this provision does the President of the incumbent government come in here.
The IGAD Secretariat forwarded the final report of the IBC to the Parties and on the 18th of September 2019 the IGAD Special Envoy convened in Juba a meeting of the Parties to discuss and resolve the issue of the number and boundaries of the States. All Parties attended except the government which boycotted the meeting. Therefore, the government was bent on scuttling the work of IGAD on the issue under the mistaken assumption that it will take it over to impose its will. This Order is the clearest manifestation yet of that intention.
The NDM would like to state the following on the issue under discussion:
1- The IBC’s final report was unambiguous. The IBC rejected the 32 States by an overwhelming majority of 10 to 4 (71%). Therefore, this option is out of consideration.
2- The IBC supported the option of ten (10) States not only by a colossal majority of 71% but by a huge consensus of its members unprecedented during the peace negotiations. Four of the Parties, one person from the fifth Party and all the AU C 5 members voted for the ten (10) States. The C 5 members in the IBC also wrote to IGAD Secretariat recommending the ten (10) States as the preferred option.
3- The only hurdle that stood on the way of the IBC to conclusively come up with the ten (10) States as its chosen option was the provision of Article 1.15.9. that requires seven (7) South Sudanese to vote with the majority whereas those who actually did so were six (6). The import of the IBC recommendation to call the Parties to take a political decision was to overcome that hurdle but taking into consideration the consensus referred to above. There is no room for forming another committee.
4- The government has been busy all this time working hard to win some Parties to its side in an attempt to circumvent the IBC decision. It now feels confident enough to unfurl its plan and hence the issuance of this Presidential Order which has no basis in R-ARCSS.
5- Curiously, the breakaway South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) is now superimposed over the official SSOA in the Presidential Order. Is that by accident? Were they consulted?
We reject the Presidential Order in its entirety and consider it as null and void. The NDM will only take part in a discussion on the number and boundaries of States in South Sudan that is convened and chaired by IGAD as clearly stipulated in the Agreement and as came in the final report of the IBC.
Mahjoub Biel Turuk
Acting Secretary General
National Democratic Movement.
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