By Frank Kamuntu
Addis Ababa: The Presidents of the republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his counterpart his Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, of South Sudan, rejected a decision by IGAD’s Council of Ministers to reduce the number of South Sudan’s current 32 states to 23, plus Abyei.
The Council of Ministers of the East African regional bloc, IGAD, made a decision yesterday evening in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The issue of the number of States and boundaries is one of the outstanding matters preventing South Sudanese warring parties to form a transitional government before the February 22nd deadline.
The Ugandan leader who publicly supports President Salva Kiir, arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday evening. After his arrival, he addressed the Council of Ministers, saying their decision to reduce the number of states is not supported by any reason.
Museveni then asked the Council of States to conduct more consultations with Kiir and the opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar, before IGAD’s heads of state and government make a final decision on the issue of the number of states and boundaries.
However, one senior SPLM-IO official who demanded anonymity described Museveni’s demand as “not new” and accused him of working against peace.
“Museveni is an ally of Kiir. He fought alongside Kiir against us (SPLM/A-IO) so we are not surprised,” the official says, adding, “If he doesn’t like the number of states to be reduced then we would like to know what he wants.”
“Museveni position as a peacemaker while advocating for the same status quo in South Sudan will never be accepted,” the official asserted.
However, several officials with IGAD Secretariat told journalists that most IGAD’s leaders no longer support Museveni’s more than six years of opposition to finding lasting peace in the wartorn young nation.