Donors urge South Sudan to form unity government before deadline
By GARANG A. MALAK
South Sudan’s main coalition of donors are calling on leaders to urgently implement remaining tasks of the peace deal before the February 22, 2020 deadline expires.
On Saturday, the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom, the main countries that have funded peace negotiations in South Sudan, said the country is running out of time to create the transitional unity government.
Known as the TROIKA, the three urged the key principals to the revitalised peace agreement (R-ARCSS) to commit themselves to finalising the pending tasks before the lapse of the extended deadline.
The pending tasks include cantonment of troops, training and unification of 83,000 soldiers from various factions into one professional national army ahead of the transitional period.
On the other hand, the parties have yet to agree on the number and boundaries of states, which has been an issue in the past and even in the negotiations.
Several meetings mediated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) between the government and SPLM-IO regarding the number and boundaries of states have always ended in vain due to varying interests.
In a TROIKA statement, the coalition urged leaders to efficiently use the less than 40 days left so that the unity government can be formed on time.
“With less than six weeks remaining to meet the extended deadline to form a Transitional Government of National Unity, South Sudan’s leaders have a clear duty to their citizens to deliver.
“We commend the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in its continued efforts to mediate among the parties, and we commit to work with the region to ensure that the parties deliver,” the statement reads.
The group also welcomed the recent meetings between the key principals, President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar who leads opposition SPLM-IO faction; and their public commitment to form a government of national unity by the February deadline.
“We urge all sides to build on this, to continue dialogue, and to ensure meaningful progress. We call on all sides to further demonstrate that they possess the political will to deliver peace. We also remind all parties to uphold, and affirm publicly, their commitment to the permanent ceasefire, and to instruct their forces to exercise restraint,” said the statement.
South Sudan’s leaders Kiir and Machar signed a revitalised agreement in September 2018 and had an initial deadline of six months to form a transitional government that would last for three years before an election is held.
The agreement, known as ‘revitalised’ because it included other factions to the conflict, has however been difficult to implement, forcing the parties to postpone the formation of the transitional government twice.
In November, Kiir and Machar met in Uganda’s capital Kampala and agreed to extend the deadline by 100 days so the three key issues are sorted.
Observers have been worried that more than half of that time has elapsed without tangible solutions.