Sunday December 10, 2017

SPLM conference in Pagak kicks off on high note


JUBA – The highly anticipated opposition conference taking place in the South Sudan border town of Pagak kicked off in a blistering fashion as delegates from all the rebels held areas convened for the first time to deliberate on the IGAD road map for peace in South Sudan to end a brutal 11 months of intensive civil war.
The conference with the theme: SEARCH FOR SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH SUDAN, was opened with rupturous remarks by the leader of the SPLM in Opposition and commander in chief, Dr Riek Machar. Machar thanked the host community of Pagak and the delegates for being patient enough throughout the negotiation period. He said that the conference must resolve something, i.e it must come up with a clear road map to peace in the country as demonstrated by the rebels delegation in Addis Ababa. He said that IGAD road map to power sharing and resolution of the conflict will be studied during the 4 days conference.
The chief negotiatior of the movement, Gen Taban Deng also deliberated on the sticking points of the negotiation process. He highlighted the divergence of the two parties in the negotiation table and the key contentious issues so far being the duties of the President and the Prime Minister. He however allayed fear that the rebels negotiators are giving too much to the government side.

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After the deliberation by Gen Taban, a recess was made to allow for more consultations and tea breaks. Some generals were seen unmoved by the proposal on the IGAD paper that Salva Kiir will retain his positon but with lesser powers as he would share it with the would be Prime Minister. General Gatwech Duel, Gen Dau Aturjong and Gen Gatdet Yaka were very vocal about the idea. they demanded that Salva must step down for peace to be realised saying he’s the symbol of division and genocide in the country and therefore should not be rewarded. They said that if IGAD doesn’t want to find him a place for exile, he will be removed by force by any means necessary.

“we cannot reward an enemy of this nation who killed thousands of people to remain in power. he must be removed by force if IGAD can’t find a way out for him” – Gatdet said.

The trio of generals also have a backing from many in the tens of thousands of attendees in the conference. But the leadership is optimistic that they will persuade them for the fact that Salva Kiir will no longer have the powers he has had since and that he will only preside over minor issues.

Philip Gual

An Upper Nile State correspondent for The Upper Nile Times. He currently resides in Malakal, Upper Nile State.

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