Former vice-president, Riek Machar, who leads the SPLM-IO signed with president Kiir a final peace agreement on 26 and 17 August, respectively, committing the two warring parties to the compromise peace deal brokered by the East African regional bloc, IGAD, and its international partners, including Troika countries (US, UK and Norway), AU, EU, China and UN).
The two leaders also declared a permanent ceasefire which came into force on 29 August, Saturday midnight, in accordance with the provision of the transitional security arrangements in the peace agreement.
However, fighting has resumed this week in Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile states in violation of the ceasefire, with rival forces trading accusations over who was responsible for the violations that threaten to derail the implementation of the deal.
But the armed opposition led by Machar said they are committed to full implementation of the agreement to bring to an end the suffering of the people through the agreement as it addressed most of their concerns, saying it was the government that had reservations.
“We are fully committed to implementing the peace agreement without reservations. We want to alleviate the suffering of the people of South Sudan,” said the top opposition leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, on Wednesday.
Dak said the IGAD Plus compromise peace agreement has addressed issues of governance, including the road to federalism, institutional reforms and given the opposition leader the responsibility to coordinate its implementation.
“The First Vice President, in accordance with the peace agreement, has the responsibility to ensure full implementation of the agreement by coordinating it with national, regional and international stakeholders and guarantors,” he said.
“His office shall also be initiating reforms with various institutions. He will be in the driver’s seat,” Dak stressed.
He further explained that since the armed opposition faction was all along demanding for reforms in the country, and they will have the responsibility to initiate the reforms and make coordination for the implementation of the deal, it would be the other side led by president Kiir that may be reluctant to commit to its implementation.
“We will be implementing what we have been demanding for the good of the country. So there is no reason for us to refuse its implementation. It will be the other party which signed the agreement with reservations that may be implementing it reluctantly with the reservations,” he said.
The peace agreement divided executive powers between the president and the first vice president in which they will be making joint decisions through frequent consultations in the presidency.
The two will also split the cabinet with president Kiir taking 16 national ministers out of the fixed 30 cabinet ministers, while Machar will have 10 national ministers, former detainees 2 and other political parties two.
The process for selection of the cabinet ministries will likely result to the government losing many key ministries to the three opposition groups.
Also, the president will have no power to appoint or remove any of the other 14 ministers. According to the agreement, Machar will nominate his 10 ministers and he alone has the power to remove and replace them.
Transitional governors for the only two oil producing states of Unity and Upper Nile will also be nominated by Machar, who will form the state governments according to the power sharing ratio provided for in the peace accord.
The opposition leader will also command a separate army for at least one and half years as their commander-in-chief before completion of unification process. His army’s chief of general staff will only report to him and not to the president.
However, president Kiir will enjoy almost full control of the other seven states in the two greater regions of Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria.
Unlike the previous powers to appoint and relieve vice president, president Kiir has no power to appoint or remove Machar, according to the peace agreement. He will only take oath of office before the president.
Observers say the two rival leaders, but peace partners, will act like co-presidents during the 30 months of the transitional period leading to elections.
Fighting erupted on 15 December 2013 when internal debates over reforms within the ruling SPLM turned violent.
United States government on Tuesday renewed statements calling on the two parties to stop fighting and begin the full implementation of the peace agreement, warning that any party that will be seen to be spoiling its implementation will be punished.
United Nations also said it will impose targeted sanctions on individuals that will be responsible for lack of implementation of the deal.