South Sudan President Salva Kiir cut the number of states from 32 to 10, unlocking a stalled peace deal and paving the way for the formation of a long- awaited unity government.
“The compromise we made is a painful but a necessary one if it brings peace”, Kiir said in a statement. “I expect the opposition to be prepared to do the same.”
The regional group IGAD gave government until Saturday to find a solution to the number of states the country should have.
Disagreement between Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar over the number as well as a failure to integrate different fighting forces are major obstacles to completing the peace process.
Machar could not be reached for comment.
“This paves a path forward. The peace deal was stuck. Now the parties need to complete negotiations to form the long-awaited unity government,” said Alan Boswell, a senior analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
South Sudan’s five-year civil war erupted soon after the country’s formation in 2011 and created the worst refugee crisis in Africa since the Rwandan genocide.
Kiir and Riek Machar agreed a peace deal in 2018, pressured by the UN, US and countries in the region.
Under the deal, the two agreed to form a unity government by November 2019. They pushed the deadline back by 100 days, prompting Washington to recall its ambassador and impose sanctions on senior officials for their role in the conflict.