South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) welcomes opposition leader Riek Machar at State House in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 15, 2020. South Sudan warring parties on Wednesday agreed to continue with further consultations on the contentious issue of the number of states after Salva Kiir and Riek Machar met in Juba. (Xinhua/Daniel Majak)
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) welcomes opposition leader Riek Machar at State House in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 15, 2020. South Sudan warring parties on Wednesday agreed to continue with further consultations on the contentious issue of the number of states after Salva Kiir and Riek Machar met in Juba. (Xinhua/Daniel Majak)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has pledged to peacefully resolve a running dispute with Riek Machar, his first vice president and long time rival, over allocation of state and local government positions in a three-year transitional government of national unity.

The 2018 revitalized peace agreement allocated Kiir’s ruling party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), 55 percent of state and local government positions and Machar’s SPLM- In-Opposition was given 27 power-sharing ration, with the remaining slots going to other signatories to the pact. But the parties have so far failed to strike a power-sharing deal for state governors as several talks aimed at ending the deadlock concluded without progress. “The issue of state governors is what we have been fighting over all these days,” Kiir said on Tuesday during a delayed swearing-in ceremony of new Foreign Affairs Minister Beatrice Khamisha Wani, who had been put under 14-day quarantine amid COVID-19 fears after returning home from Germany.

Kiir said the disagreement will not shatter the peace deal which is seeking to end over six years of brutal civil war.”We will resolve it. This is not something that will take us back to the guns so that people shoot themselves,” the South Sudanese leader added. Last week, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the oversight body tasked with the implementation of the peace agreement called on the parties to urgently address the issue of state governors to end an increasing wave of inter-ethnic violence that has been skyrocketing since the unity government was set up on Feb.21.

Experts blame the increasing lawlessness in many parts of South Sudan to lack local administrative units that were abolished in February after Kiir reverted from the 32 state systems to 10. South Sudan descended into conflict late 2013 following a disagreement between Kiir and his then his deputy, Machar. The wrangles led to all-out civil conflict that engulfed the whole east African nation.A peace deal signed in August 2015 failed, leading to renewed hostilities that killed tens of thousands and displaced more than four million people internally and externally.The power-sharing government established in February this year after being delayed several is seeking to end the devastating conflict in the world’s youngest nation.

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