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A unity government without Machar violates peace agreement: SPLM-IO official

September 23, 2019 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM/SPLA (IO)) has condemned in the “strongest” possible President Salva Kiir’s recent remarks in which he hinted on possibilities of forming the transitional unity government in November without Riek Machar.

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (L) speaks to reporters after meeting President Salva Kiir in Juba, September 11, 2019 (JUBA)

The president made the statement during prayers that were conducted at the presidential palace in Juba on Thursday last week.

However, the SPLM (IO)’s director for information and public relations, Puok Both Baluang said the counter insurgency tactics of the government are a further indication of the lack of political will to implement the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

“It also reflects that they are seeking to maintain the status quo, which would only increase and perpetuates the suffering of the people of South Sudan,” said Both in a statement to Sudan Tribune Monday,

He said Kiir’s statement also contradicts with the outcome of recent face-to-face meeting with the armed opposition leader in Juba on September 9 and 11, 2019.

President Kiir and Machar recently met in Juba and discussed the outstanding issues in the implementation of the 2018 peace accord.

The rival leaders also agreed on timely formation of the transitional unity government, which was postponed to November 12 in May.

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) consider that priority at this time, must be given to addressing the critical and outstanding issues of the Pre-Transitional Period such as; the security arrangements, the issue of number and boundaries of the states, and the constitutional amendment and security laws, and also to work to fully implement the aforementioned issues in accordance with the revitalized agreement,” said Both.

Meanwhile, the SPLM (IO) official urged government of South Sudan to demonstrate their full commitment to implement the peace deal.

Both urged parties of the revitalized agreement to use the momentum gained from the recent face-to-face meetings between President Kiir and the armed opposition leader for peace to prevail.

“The people of South Sudan after the aforementioned meetings are expecting from the parties to fully implement on the ground the issues agreed by the two leaders, in accordance with the (R-ARCSS) not hostile statements,” he stressed.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

In September 2018, the rival factions involved in the conflict signed a peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people in the country.

The power-sharing arrangements under the deal were supposed to take effect in May, but the process was delayed by six months until November as both sides disagreed on security arrangements.