South Sudan leaders asked to agree ‘in these final days’

JUBA – 12 Feb 2020

South Sudan’s exiled opposition leader Riek Machar meets with President Salva Kiir at the presidential palace in Juba on September 9, 2019.PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL

The United States, Britain and Norway on Wednesday called on South Sudan’s parties to reach consensus on a way forward on the number of states and their boundaries.

With a February 22 deadline fast approaching for South Sudan’s rival leaders to form a unity government, there is still no deal on how many states the country should have or their internal boundaries.

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have been holding a series of meetings without a deal on the key pending tasks of the peace agreement.

“Refusing to compromise and move forward undermines the agreement, risks the ceasefire, and erodes the trust of the public and the confidence of partners,” the three countries known as the Troika said in a statement.

The Troika further said with few days remaining until a power-sharing government is due to form, time has almost run out.  The three countries encouraged all parties to exercise the spirit of political compromise at the heart of the peace deal in these final days.

The Troika group, which backs peace efforts in South Sudan, underscored that a credible unity government needs to be inclusive as specified in the peace agreement and cannot be formed on the basis of unilateral action.

“During this critical time, we urge all parties to continue to uphold and publicly commit to the permanent ceasefire, to instruct their forces to exercise restraint, and to avoid inflammatory statements,” the Troika said. 

“It is of fundamental importance to avoid a return to armed conflict with devastating consequences for the people of South Sudan and for the region as a whole,” it added.

In 2018, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that at least 382,900 South Sudanese died as a result of the country’s five-year civil war.