Referendum ‘only way’ to break states impasse – cabinet
The government of South Sudan is pushing for a referendum, saying it is the “only way” to break a deadlock over the number of states and their boundaries.
On Wednesday, government and opposition negotiators ended three days of meetings without an agreement on the number of states, casting a shadow over efforts to end the impasse.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting in Juba this afternoon, Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro said national ministers during today’s meeting stressed that the only way to break the deadlock over the number of states was a referendum.
“The president raised his concern on the perception that has been developed by those mediating between the parties to the agreement and IGAD that the government appears to be intransigent in changing its position about the 32 states,” Lomuro said.
He added: “It is assumed that the opposition has changed its position from 10 states to 23+1 states and that it’s the government and one particular group of political parties, the umbrella group that are insisting on the 32 states”.
“The president shared his concern with the members of cabinet and all of whom spoke in favour of 32 states and that only a referendum can reverse the structures currently in existence to avoid crisis and even insecurity”.
The senior government official stressed that the cabinet’s position is that the only way to solve the impasse would be to let the people decide, saying that the dissolution of the current states could derail the peace process.
South Sudan’s main opposition group on Thursday blamed the government for the failure of recent talks on the number of states, saying that the government team repeatedly rejected proposals brought forth by mediators.
On November 7, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to give themselves another 100 days beyond the November 12 deadline to form a unity government.
President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and a handful of other groups signed the peace deal in September 2018. However the parties have failed to create a unified army and determine the number of states since the deal was signed.