South Sudan rivals meet in bid to salvage stalled peace deal

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South Sudan’s warring parties are set to hold talks in Addis Ababa on Thursday, in a bid to salvage a stalled peace deal, with just days to go until a unity government is meant to be formed.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc for East Africa, said in a statement it had called the two-day meeting to “develop a clear roadmap” for the formation of the government, and tackle “pending tasks of the agreement

Government has insisted the meeting must focus on how to push forward with the formation of the unity government, while Machar’s camp wants a delay of six months to resolve issues such as security for his return.

According to Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny ,the president would be represented by members of his negotiating team.

However observers say that crucial steps envisioned in the deal such as establishing a unified army and discussing security control of the capital have yet to take place.

“We would like to see an extension being agreed upon by the parties, but we would also like to see that the government is committed politically and resources wise, so that we implement the activities in the agreement,” senior SPLM-IO member Kang Pal Chol told AFP.

“For now we believe we will reach a consensus,” he said, adding that Machar would attend the meeting in Addis Ababa.

President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace deal in September 2018, the latest in a long line of efforts to end a devastating conflict now in its sixth year.

The Addis meeting comes just days after it was revealed Kiir had hired an American lobby firm to block the formation of a hybrid African Union-South Sudan court to try war crimes, stipulated in the peace agreement.

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