South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has reduced the number of states from 32 to 10, in a bid to form a unity government.
Speaking on Saturday, Kiir said, “The compromise we have made today is a painful decision but a necessary one if that is what brings peace.”
The head of state also noted that he expects the opposition to do what is necessary in order to realize peace.
When South Sudan gained its independence, the number of states stood at 10. Kiir would later increase them to 28 and later to 32.
On Friday, regional governors voted to retain the 32 states.
After the vote, Kiir said, “If I had time, I would even make these states not only 39, but 40. We as South Sudanese are not alone, there are people amongst us who think they know better than us but when we fought for more than 50 years, did they come to help us.”
IGAD had given the South Sudan government until Saturday to come up with a number of states.
The number of states have been a contentious issue in the peace talks between Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar.
Moments after the president announced his decision, Machar’s deputy spokesperson welcomed the reduction of the number of states saying, “This is a win win decision for the people and we commend the president for his wise choice.”
Following the 2011 civil war that lasted five years, Kiir and Machar signed a peace treaty in 2018.
The two leaders would then agree to form a unity government but did not hold up their part of the deal and set back the deal by 100 days in November 2019.
This saw the United States impose sanctions on Minister of Cabinet Affairs Martin Elia Lomuro and Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Kuol Manyang Juuk.
The two are said to have perpetuated conflict by stalling the peace process.
“We are designating two cabinet-ranking officials in the South Sudanese government for their role in inhibiting political unification, expanding the conflict and profiting from South Sudan’s war economy,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said.