South Sudan: Use Extension Time to Deliver Government, South Sudan Leaders Told

South Sudan gained its independence five years ago with much fanfare.

A lobby group has urged South Sudan's warring parties to use the six-month delay agreed last week to deliver the formation of a unity government.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on Thursday called on President Salva Kiir and opposition chief Riek Machar to use the extension period to resolve pending issues.

"Another important deadline has passed, and a lasting peace is no closer to becoming a reality. At the same time, this extension is an opportunity for all parties to continue negotiating and to crucially move forward with the peace agreement's most contentious clauses," said Miklos Gosztonyi, NRC's policy advisor.

"The people of South Sudan have been living on the edge for too long and cannot afford any more delays to the peace they were promised," he said.

Last Friday, the parties agreed to extend the formation of a unity government by six months just days before it was due to be installed.

"The Parties unanimously agreed to extend the Pre-Transitional period by an additional six months effective from May 12, 2019 to enable the execution of the critical pending tasks," regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) said in a statement.

The date was initially agreed when President Kiir, Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace deal last September.

While the peace arrangement has seen a reduction in fighting among the signatories, violence continues in some areas.

Cases of inter-communal clashes and cattle raiding involving groups that did not sign the peace treaty have been reported.

RNC said the citizens were getting weary and that humanitarian situation continued to worsen as a result of the conflict.

"The food security situation continues to deteriorate mainly due to families fleeing conflict, low crop production, and humanitarian access challenges...insecurity also stands in the way of the safe and dignified return for refugees who sought shelter in neighbouring countries, and for internally displaced persons," added Gosztonyi.

About 70 per cent of people in South Sudan live below the poverty line, according to Word Bank.

The country plunged into civil war in 2013 when President Kiir accused his then deputy Machar of plotting a coup.

The conflict has claimed nearly 400,000 lives and millions displaced, according to UN.

Previous attempts at peace deals have ended in gunfire.

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