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South Sudan: Last-Minute Meeting to Salvage the Transitional Government

South Sudan: Last-Minute Meeting to Salvage the Transitional Government

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019 - 08:30
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir shakes hands with opposition leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan (File Photo: Reuters)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and head of the Sovereign Council Abdul Fattah Burhan will chair a meeting Thursday between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in Kampala, Uganda, according to Kiir’s spokesman.

The presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the meeting between Kiir and Machar was postponed from Tuesday due to the President’s packed schedule. He did not give details on the agenda of the meeting and whether Kiir will announce the transitional government of national unity.

The President is expected to announce the formation of the transitional government next week with the participation of opposition forces, at a time when the parties are facing regional and international pressure to bring peace.

Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM), led by Machar, and Democratic Change, led by Lam Akol, rejected the formation of the transitional government before resolving the issue of security arrangements, as well as the number of states and their borders.

Thursday’s meeting will be the third between Kiir and Machar, after holding two meetings in Juba within three months, without achieving any breakthrough.

The peace agreement signed over a year ago between the two stipulated the formation of a 36-months transitional government followed by general elections.

Meanwhile, the armed opposition movement’s deputy director for public relations, Puok Both Baluang, said his movement received a notification from the Ugandan government regarding the postponement of the Kampala meeting between Kiir and Machar.

In a statement seen by Asharq Al-Awsat, Baluang noted that the meeting will discuss the challenges facing the implementation of the peace agreement, including security arrangements, and the unification of troops in a national army, along with the number of states and their borders before the formation of the transitional government.

Meanwhile, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) warned that the war-torn “South Sudan is barreling toward a crisis as it nears a 12 November deadline to form a government.”

In its report titled “Deja Vu: Preventing Another Collapse in South Sudan”, ICG cautioned that even if the two leaders agree to share power, disputes over security arrangements and state boundaries would poison the new administration, potentially leading to its collapse.

“There are understandable reasons to push for the formation of a unity government by 12 November. Many African and Western diplomats believe that the biggest risk to the peace deal is that it stalls endlessly, pushing back scheduled elections further and further.”

The report also urged high-level politicians to mediate to help resolve the outstanding issues standing in the way of forming a viable and functional government while reducing risks to the country’s population.

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