South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)

South Sudan warring parties on Wednesday agreed to continue with further consultations on the contentious issue of the number of states after President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met in Juba.

Tut Kew Gatluak, the presidential adviser on security affairs, revealed that the parties will consult with visiting South African deputy president David Mabuza who dabbles as the special envoy to South Sudan.

Business24

“On the problem of the states, all the parties are still continuing with consultations because peace is beyond everything, we tell people of South Sudan to wait for the formation of the transitional unity government. The discussion is still ongoing until we reach the solution,” Gatluak told journalists in Juba.

“After we have heard from all the parties we will reach the conclusion, we gave him (Mabuza) a chance to consult with other parties,” he added.

President Salva Kiir in 2015 decreed the increment in the number of states from the previous 10 to the current 32 states.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) under Machar has proposed reverting to at least 23 states but the government maintains its position on the current 32 states.

The government in early December last year mooted plan of holding referendum vote to determine the still contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries.

Gatluak disclosed that although Kiir and Machar didn’t agree on the number of states, he expressed hope that they will eventually break the deadlock on the issue.

“Today, we have discussed the report on the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, you have witnessed that all the forces have reported to training centers and the implementation of security arrangements is going well,” he said.

Gatluak said that they will go ahead with formation of the government to meet the February deadline, while they continue to discuss issues related with the military.

The former warring parties failed to form the transitional unity government in May 2019 and requested six months extension of the pre-transitional period to resolve outstanding issues which include security arrangements and the number of states.

However, they again failed to meet the Nov. 12 they promised before agreeing to another 100 days extension of the pre-transitional period which expires in February.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar leading soldiers loyal to the respective leader to fight. Enditem

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