The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) said they signed the agreement on the outstanding issues of governance because it had been changed upon the request of President Omer al-Bashir.
The opposition umbrella surprised the attendance and TV audience with the appearance of the SSOA leader Gabriel Changson Chang and SPLM-FDs leading member Deng Alor at the Friendship Hall among the signatories of the agreement.
In a joint statement on 3 August, the two groups reiterated their rejection for the deal, pointing to the need to review article 4 on the number o state and boundaries, Article 5.1 on the power-sharing at the states and local governments levels and sub-articles 6.7 -6.8 about the National Pre-Transition Committee and its fund.
In a statement dated on 6 August but released on Tuesday, SSOA said two things happened on Sunday that led to the last minute change in their position.
“First, a new Article 4a was introduced into the agreement which deals with a Technical Boundaries Committee (TBC) tasked to delineate and demarcate tribal boundaries as they stood on 1/1/1956,” reads the statement.
Adding that tribes whose lands were grabbed as a result of the imposition of the 32 States can now make their representations to the TBC and have the right to seek arbitration before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
The second thing, the IGAD Heads of State and Government have made a commitment that the whole Article 4 will be subjected to further discussions when the peace talks resume.
“A written commitment to that effect was written and signed by the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs who is the Chief Mediator,” stressed the statement.
The opposition alliance further said the matter had been submitted to the IGAD leaders in Khartoum on Sunday by President Omer al-Bashir who explained the situation.
“President Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir of Sudan was properly briefed about our position. He explained it to his colleagues who adopted it unanimously thus opening the way for us to sign the said agreement”.
SSOA thanked al-Bashir for “his patience with us and persuading his colleagues to see the justice of our demands”.
Two opposition groups, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and the National Salvation Front (NAS) however rejected the agreement creating a de facto rift within the opposition alliance which might weaken its position in the ongoing discussions in Khartoum.
After his return to Juba on Monday, President Salva Kiir on Monday said committed to the signed text on the governance even if he said that South Sudanese would not accept to cancel the 32 states.
AFRICAN UNION WELCOMES
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Monday welcomed the signing of the Agreement on Outstanding Issues of Governance, saying it constitutes an important step towards the end of the conflict in South Sudan.
“The Chairperson of the Commission urges the South Sudanese parties to sustain the momentum arising from the signed agreement, by continuing to demonstrate the required spirit of compromise and implementing in good faith the commitments they have made,” stressed the statement.
Moussa further praised the efforts of President Omer al-Bashir and the IGAD leaders in order to achieve peace in South Sudan and to bring an end to the nearly five-year conflict.