- “The ceasefire will continue to hold and no one from us is willing to go back to war,” Kiir added.
- Both sides have always blamed each other for not achieving the milestones in the peace deal.
- "South Sudanese people are not holding their breath that this will work out this time round."
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the opposition leader, Riek Machar, have agreed to form a Unity government by end of February next year, whether their expectations are met or not. The decision was reached upon after the duo had talks in the capital city, Juba, for the last three days so as to iron out the outstanding disputes that have prevented the establishment of a power-sharing government.
“We said that after 100 days we must form the government of national unity. If the arrangements are not complete, we shall form a transitional government of national unity to implement the outstanding issues,’ Kiir said in a joint news conference with the rebel leader. “The ceasefire will continue to hold and no one from us is willing to go back to war,” Kiir added.
Both sides have always blamed each other for not achieving the milestones in the peace deal, especially integration of different fighting forces. They have also disagreed on the number of states the country should have. “We have talked about the number of states and boundaries but we didn’t reach a deal on the states,” Machar said. Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal after they got pressure from United Nations, United States, and other neighboring countries to end a five-year civil war. They agreed to form a unity government by November 12. Last month, the two leaders agreed to delay key benchmarks in the revitalized peace agreement by additional 100 days.
The news was welcomed by analysts, though they cautioned that past deadlines have been missed. Last month’s extension marked the second time the deadline had been pushed forward since the deal that brought a pause to fighting in the country last year. “South Sudanese people are not holding their breath that this will work out this time round,” said Jok Madut Jok, co- founder of the Sudd Institute. “There is still hope. People are tired of war and the consequences of the war including the collapse of the economy and the displacement of nearly half of the population.”
“The intractable issues that prevented these two men from forming a transitional government of national unity include the division of the country by President Kiir into thirty two states. The opposition is saying this is unconstitutional and must be rescinded,” Jok added.
This comes after the United Nations on Monday imposed sanctions on two senior South Sudanese ministers— Cabinet Affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro, and Defense minister Kuol Manyang Juuk— for their role in perpetuating the the conflict by obstructing the peace process. The sanctions freeze any US assets owned by the officials and also prohibits Americans from doing business with them.
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 11 states, but it has 32 state now, a move by the president to reward loyalists, critics say. This is what has always angered the president’s opponents. South Sudan plunged into war in 2013 after a fall-out between Kiir and Machar, the president’s former deputy, who now lives in exile.