'I pulled out of tough talks,' Kiir tells supporters
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Wednesday said he pulled out of protracted talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in order to hold consultations.
Addressing his supporters at Juba Airport, Kiir said he had withdrawn from “tough negotiations” aimed at resolving the contentious issue of the number of states in order to relax.
“I have done my part in the fight there, so what is left is your part. I pulled out so that I can join you,” Kiir told protesters who strongly support the current 32 states.
With a February 22 deadline fast approaching for South Sudan’s rival leaders to form a unity government, there is still no deal on how many states the country should have or their internal boundaries.
On Sunday, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar ended a closed-door meeting in Addis Ababa without a deal on the contentious issue of the number of states. Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and IGAD’s Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu were present at the meeting.
South Sudan had 10 states when it obtained independence from Sudan in 2011. But in 2015 President Salva Kiir unilaterally increased the number to 28 and then later 32.
The opposition argues that the constitution and the 2015 peace deal are explicit that South Sudan comprises only 10 states, insisting on a return to the original 10 states, or 23 states based on colonial boundaries.