As was widely feared, the South Sudan protagonists, President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar, failed to deliver on their own November 12 deadline for the formation of the government of national unity. However, a last-minute tripartite deal in Kampala has spared the young nation a bitter fallout and possible return to full-fledged conflagration.
At a meeting hosted by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni in last Thursday, the faction leaders agreed to delay the unity government by 100 days. Then, they will address the outstanding issues -- like the security for VIPs, establishment of functioning barracks for soldiers, merger and training of the army from the splinter groups and the contentious issue of the number of states.
The countdown has begun and all the world is watching. The grandstanding by President Kiir and Dr Machar must come to an end. The duo must now move with speed to close ranks as stipulated in the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.
The destiny of their fragile nation lies squarely in their hands and the external actors are getting increasingly fatigued by their intransigence. The United States, in particular, has not hidden its displeasure at the two leaders' failure and has said as much. Indeed, the US is considering other options to put pressure on those individuals impeding the peace deal.
Imagining a further extension, whatsoever, to the 100 days granted by the Entebbe Accord would be overstretching their luck. Should the two leaders fail to deliver, then the best option would be for both to exit the stage to allow another of their compatriots to take charge. Neither of the two is indispensable. South Sudan cannot continue on the downward slide due to them.