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DEAL: Machar and Kiir agree on way forward

 

Museveni greets Machar at the talks. PHOTO PPU

Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & AFP | South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed Thursday to extend by 100 days a deadline to form a power-sharing government, a regional official said, after they failed to resolve outstanding disagreements.

The Uganda Tripartite Summit on peace in South Sudan agreed to extend the pre-transitional period for 100 days, with progress reviewed after 50 days. A mechanism will also be established for Guarantors and Parties to supervise implementation of talks.

Today’s meeting in Entebbe chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, also resolved to ask the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to address the status of Dr Riek Machar and also urge the international community to continue supporting this revitalized peace process.

“I chaired the Tripartite Summit on the Revitalised Agreement seeking to resolve the South Sudan conflict. I thank Their Excellencies Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, His Excellency Abdalftah Alburhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, and His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya’s Special Envoy on South Sudan, for making it to the summit,” said President Museveni at the end of the talks.

South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar (R) arrives for talks on South Sudan’s proposed unity government at State House in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 7, 2019. Photo by Michael O’HAGAN AFP

Both sides agreed to a November 12 deadline to join forces in a unity government, but unresolved differences over the terms of peace threaten to scuttle the deal and plunge the country back into war, observers have warned.

Machar, who lives in exile in Khartoum, has asked for more time so that the impasse, primarily over security and territory arrangements in South Sudan, can be overcome.

The rebel leader warned that if these were not addressed, the country would see a repeat of fighting in 2016, when an earlier peace deal collapsed, worsening the conflict.

Machar’s party, the SPLM-IO, said in a statement prior to the meeting would seek progress on issues that have dragged on “without much having been achieved” since the deal was signed more than a year ago.

(L to R) Musyoka of Kenya, President Kiir, President Museveni, Gen Abdalftah Alburhan and Dr. Machar. PHOTO PPU

– US sanctions? –

Machar, a former deputy to Kiir, was forced then to flee South Sudan on foot under a hail of gunfire, and has only returned home on rare occasions.

Kiir says he’s ready to form a new government, and has threatened to do it alone.

But the creation of the coalition government has already been delayed once, in May, and parts of the international community fear another extension risks the already fragile peace accord.

The United States in particular has warned it would reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan if a unity government isn’t forged on November 12, and has floated sanctions.

The peace deal has largely stopped the fighting that erupted in 2013, just two years after South Sudan achieved independence, after a falling out between Kiir and Machar.

The International Crisis Group warned pushing the November 12 deadline at all costs risked this fragile truce.

“External actors could imperil these gains if they push the parties into a unity government that then falls apart or permit Kiir to exclude Machar,” the think tank wrote in a report this week.

Fighting in South Sudan has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly four million people.

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