South Sudan: Groups Seek Delay to Unity Government

South Sudan President Salva Kiir, right, shakes hands with opposition leader Riek Machar during a meeting at State House Entebbe, Uganda on November 7, 2019.
2 November 2019

South Sudan's main civil society groups are proposing a delay of 100 days in forming a unity government in order to allow parties to iron out their differences and prevent a possible relapse into war.

In a proposal made public Friday, the South Sudan Civil Society Forum said they were disappointed key issues have not been dealt with, ahead of the November 12 deadline, but said rushing into a unity government could be dangerous.

PEACE DEAL

"There can never be a shortcut to meaningful implementation of the R-ARCSS," the forum, which brings together youth, gender and religious groups both within South Sudan and in the diaspora, said referring to the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

"The parties should jointly provide a unified message to assure citizens of their commitment to the peace agreement. In the days remaining before 12 November, the principals of the parties who are signatories to the peace agreement should hold a retreat in which they develop a realistic 100-day roadmap to the formation of the R-TGoNU."

South Sudan's key protagonists, President Salva Kiir, his former Vice President Riek Machar and several other groups known as the South Sudan Opposition Alliance signed an amended agreement last year in September.

They initially gave May 12 as deadline to form a unity government but mediators at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) accepted a six-month delay.

Ahead of the second deadline, however, Dr Machar's Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition(SPLM-IO) and the SSOA have said the unity government should not be formed unless key issues are addressed.

The issued include merger of the armies, vetting and training and deployment of some 3000 soldiers meant to protect VIPs, establishing main camps for soldiers, agreeing on number of regional states as well as drawing boundaries.

Much of the delays has been blamed on lack of funds with President Kiir being accused by other parties of refusing to release the money.

While Juba insisted the government should be formed, reports emerged this week that some of the soldiers put in camps, under an arrangement known as cantonment, were leaving for lack of supplies.

SECURITY THREAT

The forum said this could raise a new security threat.

The forum warned the international community against forcing parties into a unity government without first addressing the issues, saying it could backfire.

"Some regional and international bodies are encouraging them to selectively implement provisions of the R-ARCSS. Such recommendations undermine the entire peace agreement, especially the sequence of agreed implementation schedule.

"These types of political impasses have proved deadly in the past. The political differences among the parties and their failure to accomplish the agreed upon tasks are understandably contributing to increased anxiety and fear among citizens about their safety and the future of the peace agreement."

The world could wait to see if the proposal could be accepted by parties. The Forum said the extension will allow time for parties to first discuss with their constituents, and later meet to deal with each contentious item.

"Guarantors to the R-ARCSS, particularly those in the region, should deliver swift consequences on any party that deliberately attempts to frustrate peace efforts and meaningful implementation of the R-ARCSS."

Last week on October 26, IGAD special envoys Ismail Wais, Kalonzo Musyoka, Jamal al-Sheikh, Betty Bigombe, Joram Biswaro met with representatives of the UN, US, China, Japan Norway and UK in Djibouti where they agreed to call for a meeting of parties before November 12.

The idea, a dispatch said, was to "agree on a temporary, viable and realistic arrangement regarding the critical pre-transitional tasks... " which could require at least $100 million to be implemented.

The envoys also suggested that IGAD Heads of State hold an urgent meeting to determine the fate of the agreement.

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