No change in position on 32 states, says government spokesman
South Sudan's government said its position towards the current 32 states plus Abyei area "remained firm" during today’s consultative meeting in the capital Juba.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj this afternoon, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth confirmed that the consultative meeting concluded with recommendations to maintain the current 32 states plus Abyei Administration Area.
“The participants unanimously passed a resolution to maintain the current 32 states plus Abyei area and form the unity government by February 22,” he explained.
Makuei, who is also the government spokesman, says their stance on the number of states will not derail the peace process. He once again categorically ruled out the possibility of any compromise on the contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries.
“We have just consulted the people of South Sudan and they said no compromise on the current 32 states plus Abyei. So this is the final position of the people of South Sudan,” he stressed.
According to Minister Makuei, President Salva Kiir will report back to IGAD on February 15.
“My message to the people of South Sudan is that let them prepare for the formation of the unity government on February 22. It was agreed in the meeting that two people from each state will be members of the Council of States,” he concluded.
South Sudan’s rival parties have failed to agree on the number of states and boundaries the country should have, even as the February 22 deadline for the formation of a transitional government draws near.
The meeting between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in Ethiopia last weekend ended without a deal on the number of states.
Earlier this month, the main opposition group SPLM-IO said it would not be part of the unity government if the dispute over the number of states is not resolved. The opposition insists on a return to the original 10 states, or 23 states based on colonial boundaries.