By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 24, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chairman and commander-in-chief of the armed opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM/A-IO), Riek Machar, has left for the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to meet president Yoweri Museveni.
The opposition leader left the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to Kampala on Sunday night to meet the Ugandan president to try to get help from Museveni with regard to the outstanding issues in the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.
At a short-lived press conference he conducted on Sunday evening at his residential area in Addis Ababa, the First Vice President designate, according to a peace agreement he signed with the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, said he will be trying to persuade Uganda to play a key role in convincing President Kiir reverse the order of expanding South Sudan states from 10 to 28.
According to Machar, Uganda which had been part of the conflict since day one has lately been playing an important role for the two conflicting parties to reach agreements.
Machar said he believed Kampala will play a crucial role with regard to the existing misunderstanding on the 28 states, a decree which has become an emerging challenge threatening the implementation of the peace deal.
Machar’s visit to Uganda is his first since conflict in the young east African nation erupted in mid-December 2013. The opposition leader gave the press briefing shortly after his arrival from his headquarters in Pagak, where he had consultations with senior members of the advance team who returned from Juba.
During a day and half consultations, SPLM-IO officials passed a resolution to stick to the ten states.
“We have decided to stick to the terms of the agreement and implement it that way,” Nyarji Jermlili Roman, deputy spokesman for Machar told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Roman said the implementation should take place based on the ten states and any other proposals regarding the expansion of states should be discussed during the interim period.
The two South Sudanese signatory parties on Saturday pointed fingers at each other of having intentions to obstruct the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015 to end 21 months old conflict in the young east African nation.
However Machar said the issues of 28 states is the only factor hindering implementation and holding back the amendment of the constitution. He said a transitional government of national unity cannot be formed while there is no constitution, further arguing the constitution is the anchor of the agreement and the government.
Machar added that amendment of the constitution should first be finalized then to be passed by the interim national assembly thereby to form a transitional government of national unity.
According to Roman the advance team is facing challenges in Juba with regard to the amendment of the constitution but is heeding to find a way forward to the deadlock.
He said he is optimistic a fruitful outcome will emerge from Kampala but he added that if failed the opposition group will consider addressing the issues to partners of the agreement – the international community, the Troika and the African Union.
According to Machar lasting peace won’t be easily achieved in South Sudan if the peace implementation process went according to the 28 states.
The conflict in South Sudan erupted in mid-December 2013 between forces loyal to Kiir and those backing former vice president Machar. The violence which quickly spread across the country has reportedly killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.