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South Sudan opposition groups distance themselves from Entebbe deal

Participants in Entebbe meeting pose after reaching an agreement on the power sharing on 7 July 2018.
July 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - South Sudan opposition groups Monday distanced themselves from Entebbe Proposal saying it ignored the core issues and was just a bargaining between warring parties over the allocation of cabinet and parliament seats.

South Sudanese government and opposition groups including the SPLM-IO, South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and Other Political Parties (OPP) were in Kampala for a meeting with Presidents Omer al-Bashir, Salva Kiir, and Yoweri Museveni.

The meeting agreed to reinstitute Machar as the First Vice-President and amended the Revised Bridging Proposal by creating a fourth vice-president. The compromise was seen as a major breakthrough in the process as Kiir vetoed the participation of his former FVP threatening to collapse the whole peace talks.

Also, the cabinet ministers have been increased to 55 ministers: 30 for the government, 10 for the SPLM-IO and 5 for the remaining opposition forces. The same for the parliament which will be composed of 550 members: the government 400 MPs, SPLM-IO 100 MPs and 50 seats for the other opposition factions.

The opposition SSOA and OPP groups were reportedly involved in the discussions, but the spokesperson of the opposition alliance said, in fact, the discussions were between the three presidents and the SPLM-IO leader.

“The leadership of SSOA and Other Political Parties (OPP) were officially invited to Entebbe for the July 7th meeting but kept out of the 8-hour proceedings,” said Kwaje Lasu SSOA spokesperson in a statement he issued on Sunday and confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Monday evening.

“The Entebbe meeting of 7/712018 turned out to be a bilateral agreement between two of the warring parties, namely; the Juba regime and SPLM/A-IO,” he added.

Asked if things have changed since the return of the delegations to Khartoum Lasu stressed that things remain the same and even they have not been officially notified the extension of talks to next Thursday 12 July.

However “ We have had submitted our counter-proposal on governance but we’ve yet to be engaged on. It’s the same tactics used in Addis,” he said.

In Khartoum, Sudanese foreign minister El-Dirdery Ahmed met with the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Khartoum Steven Koutsis and U.S. Ambassador to Juba Thomas Hushek and briefed them about the Entebbe compromise and ongoing efforts to settle the outstanding issues.

Lasu recalled the need to be committed to inclusivity principles as the only way for a lasting peace in South Sudan.

“ln our informed view, any bilateral agreement to the exclusion of other parties will not bring about sustainable peace in South Sudan,” he stressed.

The Sudanese mediators said the extension of the talks aims to draft the points agreed in Entebbe and to sign it on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, it is not clear if a compromise will be reached on Tuesday paving the way for the signing ceremony on the governance chapter or the discussions will be extended until the next week.

The parties have travel for the third round of talks in Nairobi after agreeing on the outstanding issues in the governance and the security arrangements.