Another six months to South Sudan unity government

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South Sudan’s ruling and opposition parties agreed to six more months to form a unity government as part of a peace deal signed in September, regional group IGAD (Inter-governmental Authority on Development) said in a statement.

President Salva Kiir lifted a state of emergency imposed in 2017 in five northern states, South Sudan Radio reported, to help foster peace.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and descended into civil war two years later. After a string of failed agreements, a peace deal was signed last September between the sides, represented by Kiir and his former deputy turned rival, Riek Machar.

As part of the peace deal, the sides aimed to form a government of national unity by May 12. The parties met in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to seek a way forward.

“The parties identified lack of political will, financing and time constraints as major challenges delaying implementation of pre-transitional tasks and underscored the need to ensure specific pending tasks are adequately funded in a clearly set out and reasonable timeframe,” IGAD said in a statement.

“In light of this the parties unanimously agreed to extend the pre-transitional period by an additional six months effective from 12 May 2019 to enable execution of the critical pending tasks,” the inter-governmental group added.

While the peace deal helped to reduce fighting and partly alleviate the humanitarian crisis afflicting the country, a UN panel of experts on South Sudan said in a report the country still faces significant challenges.

IGAD, mediating between the two sides, said the new agreement will be presented for consideration at its council of ministers meeting on May 7 and 8 in Juba.