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Source: Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan’s main rebel group SPLM-IO announced yesterday that its leadership meeting held at Pagak resulted in a decision to insist on keeping ten states in the country for the time being.

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) will stick to the terms of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, which is based on 10 States,” said Mabior Garang, the top information officer for the movement.

His remarks come just after the conclusion of the Pagak meeting and the return of SPLM-IO Advance Team members to Juba yesterday.

President Salva Kiir has tried to establish by decree 28 states replacing the ten constitutionally established states. He appointed in December new governors for these states, including in areas that the peace agreement had said would be ruled by SPLM-IO governors.

By the terms of the agreement, SPLM-IO were given the governorships of two of the ten states, Unity and Upper Nile.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (JMEC), which is tasked with overseeing implementation of the peace deal, had called on the rebels and government to negotiate over the issue of 28 states to reach a solution to the matter.

SPLM-IO rebel leader Riek Machar had earlier favored a similar plan to Kiir’s 28 states, but now says the way in which the president has carried out the plan is illegal and in violation of the peace agreement.

Separately, Mabior Garang revealed two other resolutions of the Pagak meeting which are:

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) will accept five (5) Presidential Advisors, the SPLM (IO) will have two (2) Advisors and the GRSS will have three (3) Advisors.”

“In the event a Parliamentary seat falls vacant, it should be replaced through the conduct of by-elections.”

The latter policy would prevent Kiir from replacing SPLM-IO members in parliament with his own appointees. Under the terms of the peace deal, the parliament was enlarged to include more SPLM-IO supporters.

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