Hope as South Sudanese rival leaders meet to break deadlock on outstanding issues

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar at a previous meeting. Both men hold the keys to peace in South Sudan

Juba – the ongoing consultative talks between president Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar his giving South Sudan that outstanding differences can be bridged for the country to enjoy lasting peace..

The consultative meeting between President  Kiir and opposition leader Machar comes in a bid to evaluate progress on the implementation of the outstanding issues which include the number of states and their boundaries after the parties failed to agree on the issue last week.

However, deputy chairman of Sudan Sovereign Council, Lt General Mohamed Hamdan attended the consultative meeting between President Kiir and the opposition leader Machar at the State House on Wednesday.

After the parties failed to reach consensus last week on the issue of the number of the states and boundaries, the government proposed to resolve the contentious issue on the peace agreement through referendum.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, opposition leader Machar said, they are working to ensure that the agreement is implemented, and described the meeting as fruitful without giving details.

Machar, South Sudanese exiled opposition leader returned to Juba on Tuesday for a three-day visit to hold talks with President Salva Kiir as both leaders seek to end the impasse over the number of states and security arrangements.

“We will have another meeting with mechanisms on Thursday. I also want to seize this opportunity to say happy Christmas to the people of South Sudan,” Machar said.

Meanwhile, deputy chairman of Sudan Sovereign Council, Lt General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo urged the people to support the implementation of the deal, as he described the meeting as important towards the implementation of the outstanding issues on the peace agreement.

The former warring parties are also yet to complete the security arrangements that include screening, registration, and cantonment of their forces to form the 83,000 unified force.

The time is running out for the warring parties in South Sudan to implement all the unresolved outstanding issues as the deadline nears for the formation of the transitional unity government by February 2020.

Daqalo said that the 100 days extension of the pre-transitional period agreed upon by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar on Nov. 12 in Uganda is almost expiring amid deadlock on the contentious issue of the number of states.

“This meeting is part of the previous meetings. Today we remain with limited time nearly 29 days have passed and yet we need to focus on the implementation of the South Sudanese peace,” Daqlu told journalists in Juba after meeting Kiir together with Machar.

Daqalo who accompanied Machar, came to assess the implementation of the revitalized peace deal, also reiterated Sudan’s commitment to support peace and stability in South Sudan.

Sudan and Uganda are guarantors to the peace deal that seeks to more than five years of civil war in South Sudan.

Tut Gatluak, head of National Pre – transitional Committee, body tasked with a peace implementation, described the meeting between Kiir and Machar as “good,” saying Kiir and Machar agreed to address critical pending tasks and implement the peace agreement.

“There will be more meetings with military and political mechanisms on Thursday morning so President Kiir and Dr. Riek are briefed by the mechanisms,” said Gatluak.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, after decades of scorched-earth civil war but the country descended into conflict in December 15, 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Machar leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leaders.

President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar signed several peace deal but all ended in vaid.

 a handful of other groups signed the peace deal in

But in September 2018, the two principals, including other opposition alliances signed the revitalized peace deal in an attempt to ending the country’s five-year conflict.

However, the warring leaders missed the November 12 deadline to form a unity government and agreed to give themselves another 100 days to form the government after they  have failed to create a unified army and determine the number and boundaries of states since the deal was inked.

At now, the ceasefire deal in South Sudan is holding and violence among signatories to the peace deal has decreased.

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