IGAD to mediate Kiir-Machar’s standoff

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

The regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has expressed its interest to engage President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Dr. Riek Machar over the political standoff resulting from the removal of former defense minister, Angelina Teny and swapping of the ministry of defense with that of interior between the SPLM-IG and the SPLM-IO.

Kiir fired defense minister Angelina Teny, who is also Machar’s wife, along with the interior minister this month, re-igniting long-standing disagreements over how the two bitter rivals share power.

Despite the previous meeting between the two principals ending in deadlock and adjourned for a later date, President Salva Kiir on Wednesday however appointed a member of his own party, Gen. Chol Thon Balok as the new defense minister without consensus being reached.

The changes were pronounced via a decree read on state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC TV. Kiir’s decree breaches a peace deal in which the defense docket should be selected by the party of opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar.

Meanwhile, IGAD intention to midwife a breakthrough between Kiir and Machar on the contentious matter was revealed yesterday during the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission 28 plenary in Juba.

The Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (RJMEC) Amb. Lt. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai echoed about his pledge to have engaged with the members of IGAD and discussed with them on the matter that is holding and creating fear among the citizens to be resolved.

“In accordance with provisions of the agreement, I also briefed the heads of state of IGAD on this development and appealed to them to assist the two parties to resolve this issue,” he said during his opening remarks at the R-JMEC plenary.

On 3rd March, President Kiir issued an order, relieving two national ministries, the one of Defense and Veteran Affairs and the Interior, and including swapping the two ministries between SPLM-IG and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).

Immediately, the SPLM-IO protested the decision, and the chairperson added that he engaged with the concerned parties and encouraged them to amicably resolve the matter in spirit of collegiality, consultations and consensus.

“There has since been internal mediation between the parties to find suitable compromise on this matter. On 29th March H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit appointed General Chol Thon Balok as the new minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs.”

Meanwhile during their meeting that ended with no tangible results, it’s noted that the two principals agreed to convene a meeting again at a later date with the hope of resolving the deadlock in the spirit of mutual manner, as prescribed in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflicts in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

The unusual characters of this political move has rodded the situation that citizens still question the legality of doing things without correlating with the accord document and shows a lack of commitment into the agreement.

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