By Sudan Tribune,
THE South Sudanese government said it would not yield to its armed opposition demands to have the vice-president’s position scrapped off and replaced with a prime minister.
Cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro said such a proposal was never tabled before government and mediators of the peace talks.
“The government delegation did not receive such proposal from IGAD. We only read it from the media reports attributing statements carrying such suggestions to the rebels, and I don’t I understand the basis of the proposal,” Lomuro said on Tuesday.
According to the minister, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ‘Protocol of Agreed Principles‘ was the basis of negotiations and places the Vice-President (VP) above the Prime Minister (PM).
“The IGAD protocol of agreed principles is the guiding document on the negotiation. It recognizes the system of governance in the republic of South Sudan as a presidential system. In the transitional constitution, the position of vice president is still there,” he stressed.
“The prime minister’s post was a creation of IGAD, which the government willingly embraced for the sake of peace,” Lomoru said.
The deputy speaker of the country’s national assembly, Mark Nyipuoc said citizens of South Sudan will have to decide on any proposal that calls for the demotion of the country’s vice president.
“This is a not subject of discussion. It is actually a red line issue and you in the media must stop asking this divisive question. Our people cannot afford further division and the house cannot accept to amend the constitution without seeking the consent of the people of South Sudan”, Nyipuoc exclusively told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
In a statement issued Monday, the armed opposition lead negotiator, Taban Deng Gai said the proposed transitional period requires direct engagement of the two principals as it shall require trust and confidence between the president and the prime minister.
“The suggestion made by some quarters that removal of the vice president from the government structure smacks of marginalization of Equatorians (Bantus) by the Nilotics is incitingly absurd and does not augur well for peace, reconciliation and national healing in South Sudan,” said Gai in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
“We accepted in Arusha that the responsibility and the root cause of the conflict lies in the political failure of the SPLM and not in the ethnic and regional configuration of South Sudan. The conflict should not endure simply on account of certain individuals being affected by the changes occasioned by the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The CPA implementation [2005 – 2011] is a living example of changes in the government structure in the Sudan,” it added.
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth said government would continue offering concessions in the interest of peace, but opposed IGAD’s suggestion that both the president and prime minister be allowed to appoint governors and ministers.
“In the world, there is nothing called joint appointment,” said minister Makuei.
“You appoint in consultations with; or with the consent of; somebody but there is no joint appointment because when you make joint appointment it means that the order of appointment must be signed by the two people. Government is not a company,” he added.
Thousands of people have been killed and about 1.8 million displaced since fighting broke out late last year, despite regional efforts to end the conflict through peace talks.
Last week, however, both warring parties agreed to 15-day ultimatum for formation of a transitional government of national unity seeking an end to the 11-month old conflict.