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Key South Sudan parties fault Nov 12 unity govt deadline

Monday October 21 2019

Riek Machar

South sudan's ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar gestures as he arrives for a meeting with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir at the presidential office in Juba on October 19, 2019. PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL | AFP 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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South Sudan's latest bid to form a unity government could falter again after key parties warned the November 12 deadline was unattainable.

The country's leaders are supposed to form a unity government bringing together President Salva Kiir, former Vice-President Riek Machar and a number of other rebel groups.

But in a meeting on Sunday, Dr Machar, who heads the South Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), told the UN Security Council envoys it would be unrealistic.

If the unity government were to be formed on November 12, he said, his group would remain out of it because the country was still too volatile.

“So far our, position is we will not be part of the revitalised TGONU (transitional government of national unity) if the critical components of the revitalised agreement are not implemented,” Dr Machar's aide James Oryema told the Nation on Monday.

“The issue of security arrangements and number of states and boundaries plus incorporation of the agreement into the transitional constitution have not been resolved,” he added.

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EXPECTATIONS

The rivals were expected to agree on how to merge military factions, disarm civilians and demilitarise the capital, and fix state boundaries; all of which have been missed in the Igad-imposed deadline of September 30.

On Sunday, Dr Machar said the security issue and boundaries should be sorted our first.

"We are ready to return to the number of states with a clear borders that will not cause fighting among the communities."

South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, has not known peace since the first two years of its formation in 2011.

PEACE DEAL

President Kiir, Dr Machar and other rival groups signed a peace agreement on September 12, 2018 and initially gave a deadline of May 12 this year to form a unity government.

But part of the problem has been lack of cash to implement the programmes. The UN Security Council had on October 8 called for accountability for the violators and asked President Kiir to release the money "for ongoing implementation of the peace agreement."

On Sunday, UNSC whose October President is South Africa, said South Sudan should form unity government as soon as possible and other items sorted out progressively.

This view was opposed by Dr Machar's group and the National Democratic Movement (NDM) led by former Sudanese Foreign minister Lam Akol, who argue there has been little political will from President Kiir.

The opposition wants the unity government delayed by at least two months, but President Kiir says it ahould be immediate.