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SPLM-IO rejects unilateral creation of 28 states in South Sudan

November 5, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) - The opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) said it has rejected the unilateral creation of 28 states in South Sudan by president Salva Kiir Mayardit, raising doubts whether the peace deal signed in August will be implemented without addressing the matter.

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar looks on during an interview at his residence on August 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo AFP /Zacharias Abubeker)

President Kiir, who signed the peace agreement with the opposition leader and first vice president designate, Riek Machar, in a presidential order on 2 October, announced the creation of 28 states, expanding the number from the current 10 states in the country.

In its 2nd meeting on Thursday in Pagak, the headquarters, the opposition faction’s national liberation council deliberated on the matter and passed a resolution condemning the act by president Kiir, calling on him to revoke the order.

The leader of the opposition SPLM-IO, Riek Machar, on Thursday issued a strong worded press statement calling on president Kiir’s government to revoke the decision so as to save the peace accord.

“The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) has rejected the unilateral creation of 28 States in South Sudan by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. This is a clear violation of the Peace Agreement signed in August on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan,” partly reads the statement signed by the opposition leader and a copy of which was extended to Sudan Tribune.

Machar said the presidential order and endorsement process by the national legislature were both in violation of the peace agreement, saying even the current Juba parliament had no power to amend the constitution alone after the peace agreement was signed by the rival parties.

“The Peace Agreement was signed on the basis of the current 10 states, Articles 15.2 and 15.3 Chapter I,” he said.

He further explained that after the ratification of the agreement by the National Legislature in Juba and the SPLM/SPLA National Liberation Council on 9th September 2015 respectively, “none of these institutions has the competence to legislate or amend the constitution in matters affecting the peace agreement.”

He said the national constitution amendment committee established under the peace agreement is the only body that will initiate the amendments in the constitution.

The meeting also called on IGAD mediation and its international partners to put pressure on the government to respect the peace deal.