Opposition wants delay in South Sudan’s unity government

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South Sudan’s opposition leader, Riek Machar has called for a six-month delay in the formation of a unity government, accusing President Salva Kiir of “lacking the goodwill” to implement the agreed peace deal.

A spokesman for Mr Machar said the former rebel leader would not be able to join a unity government by 12 November, a deadline agreed in September after months of talks and diplomatic pressure.

“It’s not rocket science that the government in Juba lacks political will to implement the peace deal,” Mr Machar’s spokesman Puok Both Buluang said.

The extra six months would “give room” to resolve outstanding issues, he added.

But the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Awut Deng Achuil, told reporters that President Kiir was still keen on implementing the peace agreement and forming a unity government by 12 November.

“We are left literally with two weeks to form the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity and our president has been very clear that this government will be formed with all the parties signatory to the agreement.

“It is important if there are still outstanding issues, it will be best that they are addressed by the new government together. The peace agreement has challenges but those challenges can be overcome when we are together,” he said.

A group of UN experts warned in September that the country risked being plunged back into full-scale conflict if hardliners were allowed to sabotage the peace agreement.

Both the government and opposition have disagreed on details of the deal, including integration of rebels into the army and the number of states the country should have.

Under the deal, they agreed to hold elections after a three-year transition period.

Dominica Nwabufo