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South Sudan government organizes anti-peace demonstration

August 21, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government under the leadership of president Salva Kiir and a section of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), have organized a demonstration seeking support against provisions in the regional mediated peace deal to end over 20 months long conflict with armed opposition faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar.

S. Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and SPLM SG Pagan Amum during the signing ceremony in Addis Ababa, August 17, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

The government organized the protest in many towns in the states of Bahr el Ghazal, ostensibly in Lakes, Warrap, North and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.

Activists and peace advocates say these demonstrations against the peace agreement were mainly organized by anti-peace personalities in the government and organizations, many of whom were deliberately formed in opposition to the peace agreement that calls for comprehensive reforms and accountability.

In some state and counties in Bahr el Ghazal region, demonstrations were organized by the state and local administrations. The region saw the biggest mobilization of protest sponsored by the government last week in Wau, Kuacjok, Aweil and Rumbek, respectively.

The High Coordination Committee of the party leagues announced on Thursday that it was alerting members of the general public to turn out and participate in the scheduled protest against the peace.

Some of the provisions which the group rejected, according Simon Machar, secretary- general of the government sponsored organization committee, include power sharing, demilitarization of the national capital, Juba, and consultations at the presidency.

He claimed the organizing committee was comprised of members from the teachers, lawyers, farmers, women, and students.

Machar said they were rejecting the agreement being imposed on them by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and treated it as a conspiracy against their political will as sovereign state.

The group also denounced the presence of the United Nations mission in the country, claiming its presence was part of neo colonialism.

“We denounce presence of UNMISS in our republic and therefore we demand their forces to evacuate our republic. We rejected neo-colonialism in our country,” he said.

Deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Peter Bashir Gbandi, told reporters on Thursday that president Kiir was expected to address the nation. He did not attend the rally organized by members of his administration.

Observers say the absence could be related to the telephone conversation he had with US secretary of state John Kerry during which he pledged to sign the peace deal within 15 days of consultation.

The rally was addressed by senior SPLM party officials, including secretary for political affairs, Antipas Nyok, deputy foreign affairs minister, Peter Bashir Gbandi, former deputy minister of interior, General Salva Mathok Gengdit and many other leading officials, all of whom supported the decision of the president to not sign the agreement, claiming it undermines national sovereignty.