After being engulfed in the deadlock that arose over the firing of Defense Minister Angelina Teny last month, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar finally resumed talks that led to the reinstatement of the Speaker of the Jonglei State Assembly.
Despite the positive steps by the two leaders, the major question that is yet to be answered is whether the two principals will have solutions to the three other demands put forward by the South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
One of the demands that were raised with IGAD—the reinstatement of the Jonglei Speaker—has already been met. Three more to go.
On Wednesday, Kiir reversed his decision to fire Amer Ateny Alier, four months after her dismissal was widely condemned by the SPLM-IO.
Machar has continually accused SPLM-IG of violating the terms of the peace agreement. He also cited the changes made in the Defence ministry and the eventual swapping of the portfolio with that of the interior
This even forced Machar to write to IGAD, the peace guarantors, to intervene.
In his letter, Machar also cited the firing of Mayom’s commissioner as among the violations. His demand was to have the president reverse his decision and reinstate Angelina Teny in the defence docket, which is already being occupied by an IG appointee; and also have the docket returned to SPLM-IO
Political commentators, however, see that as “mission impossible.
According to Abraham Kuol Nyuon, a political analyst, the two leaders can still resolve the ‘impasse’ if they give dialogue a chance.
“With what has happened last evening with the reverse of the presidential decree to return the speaker of Jonglei State, that is an indication that there will be no way that the president will be able to reverse the issue of the defence docket,” Kuol said.
According to insiders, IGAD is said to be pushing the two leaders to come to a compromise, settle the matter at hand, and give a chance for smooth implementation of the agreement.
Political commentators say the
The expectations are still high, with mixed reactions on whether President Kiir will give back the defence ministry to SPLM-IO or get another ministry to be given to SPLM-IO as an alternative solution to address the deadlock.
Kuol argued that if the president can fire and appoint without consulting his other partners, then the same ‘violation’ can still be resolved through compromise.
He added that the recent decision taken by Kiir, to reinstate Alier is an indication that the president is sending a signal to other peace partners that he was willing to listen to complaints raised by the disgruntled voices.
Meanwhile, Puok Baluang, the press secretary in the office of the First Vice President, welcomed the decision made to restore order at the Jonglei State Assembly.
“It is the right decision,” he said, adding that “we also call upon the president to continue with the same spirit, respect the agreement, and also to move ahead in that direction so that the agreement is implemented in letter and spirit.”
While the SPLM-IO Political Bureau passed that the president should reverse the call, Kuol, however, continued that the opposition should accept the interior ministry to allow the process to move on.
“The president cannot accept to revoke both things at once, but (SPLM-IO) must accept the ministry of interior, even if it means Angelina being taken back to the ministry of interior,” he said.
“The only option that is available now is that either the SPLM-IO loses the interior ministry, or if they keep on pushing that they need the defence ministry, then the president may decide later on to appoint his own person to the interior ministry, and they will lose both the interior ministries,” Kuol stated.
However, Puok said the SPLM-IO was not selective on what ministry to take but was concerned about the violation of the agreement by the President.
He added that the president’s orders, which swapped, fired, and appointed members from the other parties to the peace agreement, show that they fully control the process.
The Wednesday meeting between Kiir and Machar discussed a lot of violations, including the issue of Jonglei, which was addressed, but a lot more still needs to be addressed.
“The two leaders discussed the issue of the unified forces and structures of the army, among other violations, which the president is also expected to handle,” said Puot.
Meanwhile, Kuol added that other parties to the agreement should make compromises to solve the impasse.
“If the two principles continue engaging soberly, as they did recently, then we see a positive outcome.”
“As a result of this, it could also provide another way for SPLM-IO to be able to accept the swap that is there because there is nothing the president could do with other parts comprising,” he added.
“The best way to break this deadlock is for the president and the first vice president to be able to accept that this is something that has happened,” Kuol said
He appealed to Kiir and Machar to put aside their interests and those of their parties and have in mind how to deliver services to the people of South Sudan.
“The president and first vice president should understand that the service being given in those ministries is being given to the people of South Sudan, who are neither SPLM-IO nor SPLM-IG,” he said.
He said that whoever is going to be appointed to that position is appointed to serve the people of South Sudan, adding that personal or party interests should not be put into this thing (the appointment or dismissal of ministers).