Salva Kiir

South Sudan’s peace delegates have demanded a return to the former 32 states which the opposition rejected forcing President Salva Kiir in February to revert to the current 10 states.

The delegates issued 53 resolutions at the end of the national dialogue on Tuesday, saying the current revitalized transitional unity government (R-TGoNU) should implement in regards to bringing peace and stability in the youngest nation following more than six years of conflict.

“Inspired and guided by the objectives and principles of the national dialogue, the conference reached the following resolutions and recommendations that include establishing 32 plus states to meet legitimate aspirations of the people of South Sudan,” it said in a statement issued in Juba.

The 2018 revitalized peace agreement signed by both the government and opposition recognizes ten states and also noted that South Sudan be governed under the federal system of government.

President Kiir and his first deputy president Riek Machar, prior to the latter reverting to the 32 states had strongly disagreed on the issue with the former rebel leader preferring maintaining the 10 states that had been in existence before the outbreak of conflict in December 2013.

The controversial 32 states were decreed in 2015, by President Kiir on the pretext of devolving power to communities.

The national dialogue also called for the establishment of a mixed federal system of government with full political, administrative, and financial powers to the states in a bid to restrict federal interference in state affairs.

It also endorsed a presidential system of government that limits the president to two consecutive five-year term limits starting with the next presidential elections scheduled for 2022, after the end of the three-year transitional period.”We reaffirm transfer of power only through legitimate, timely, free and fair democratic elections,” it said.

The conference participants also urged the government to urgently resolve land disputes between ethnic communities through recognition of boundaries as they stood on January 1, 1956. “Restrict appointment of judges by the president to only those judges recommended by the judicial service commission,” it disclosed.

The delegates also called on the government to endorse the controversial results of the 2013 referendum on the disputed Abyei Administrative Area with Sudan.

The African Union is mediating between Sudan and South Sudan regarding the disputed oil-rich area Abyei, a border area that is claimed by both countries.It is inhabited mainly by South Sudan’s Dinka Ngok tribe and Sudan’s Arab Messiria tribe.

The national dialogue urged the government and oil companies to urgently address environmental, social and health problems created by oil pollution in the oil-producing regions in Ruweng Administrative Area, Unity and Upper Nile regions. “We call for urgent enactment of an environmental law that mandates environmental and social impact assessment before any (oil) development projects are executed,” it noted.

The participants also called for immediate security sector reforms to professionalize the national army and other organized forces, including recruitment of South Sudanese from all regions and ethnic communities. They further called on the government to enact legislation on the establishment of truth, healing and reconciliation commission.

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