South Sudan warring parties have agreed to delay the formation of a unity government by 100 days, avoiding a possible return to violence as warned by local civil society groups.
The resolution was reached on Thursday in Entebbe, Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni hosted South Sudan leaders for a meeting.
It means President Salva Kiir, his former Vice President Riek Machar and other splinter groups who signed the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS), will not be forming a transitional unity government on November 12 as earlier decided.
President Museveni hosted Kiir, Sudan’s President of the Transitional Sovereign Council Abdulfattah Abdulrahman as well as Dr Riek Machar for a ‘tripartite summit’ on the agreement whose implementation was threatening to implode the country.
Also present at the meeting was Kenya’s former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, now Nairobi’s special envoy to South Sudan.
“Today at State House Entebbe, I chaired the Tripartite Summit on the Revitalised Agreement seeking to resolve the South Sudan conflict. I thank Their Excellencies Salva Kiir and Riek Machar for coming and holding candid discussions,” Museveni tweeted shortly after the daylong meeting ended.
A statement from Uganda's presidency said the parties had agreed to iron out certain issues first.
“The meeting noted the incomplete critical tasks related to the security arrangements and governance, including the formation of the revitalised transitional government of national unity,” the communique said.
“In view of the above, the meeting agreed to extend the period of the pre-transitional period for 100 days effective from November 12, 2019,” it added saying a monitoring review report will be filed after 50 days.
On Friday, civil society groups in the country had called for 100-day delay to address the issue of security for VIPs, establishment of functioning barracks for soldiers, merger and training of the army from the splinter groups as well as addressing the contentious issue of the number of states in the country.
On Thursday, Dr Machar’s side said they would accept the delay, but must now be told what will happen in the 100 days.
“An extension of the period, at least, guarantees that there won’t be war. We will see how to go about it because an extension alone is not enough,” said James Oryema, Machar’s aide.
“We are happy that at least people have begun to hold dialogue.”
—Additional reporting by Charles Mpagi.