Parties to the South Sudan peace agreement on Friday agreed to delay the formation of a transitional government for six months, providing temporary guarantees that the deal could hold for now.
"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," said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
The extension which starts on the day which the transitional government was to be installed, means the chief principals, President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar now have more time to iron out their differences.
Lt-Gen (Rtd) Augostino Njoroge, the Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) which monitors implementation of the peace agreement said the rescheduling will allow parties to discuss sticking issues.
“The determination of the Parties to continue to work in a spirit of cooperation and consensus was clear, and accordingly the extension was agreed unanimously through compromise.
“All Parties regard the peace process as the best chance for stability and for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan. This is welcome news as it allows the Parties to accelerate the implementation of the pending tasks,” said Lt-Gen (Rtd) Njoroge.
The mediators had called the meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on predicting the difficulty in forming a transitional government of national unity in Juba as agreed last September.
Envoys representing regional bloc, Igad, had on Thursday warned critical components of the deal have not been implemented.
President Kiir, Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS) deal in September 2018.
The May 12 deadline was supposed to provide ample time to rearrange the structures of government.
Only 27 of the 59 tasks listed in the agreement have been completed. Seventeen of the rest are still ongoing while 15 others are stalled.
On Wednesday, the main funders of the peace process—United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom—often known as Troika had warned Juba should ensure urgent formation of the transitional government so that elections can be held in March 2022.
But Dr Machar has refused to return to Juba until his security is guaranteed.
“If the regime fails to implement the security arrangements and decides to form the government on May 12, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) – the revolutionary leadership of the people’s war–shall not be responsible for our people’s reaction,” said Mabior Garang De Mabior, the group’s chairperson.