South Sudan’s main opposition accused government of failing to push through a peace deal and called for a six-month delay in the formation of a unity administration, casting a shadow over efforts to end years of fighting.
Spokesman for former rebel leader Riek Machar said he did not believe he would join a unity government on November 12 – a deadline agreed in September after months of talks, broken ceasefires and pressure from the United Nations, the United States and regional powers.
There was no immediate comment from President Salva Kiir or other countries who brokered the accord. US officials would not accept further delays and might impose sanctions if deadlines are not met.
“It’s not rocket science that government in Juba lacks political will to implement the peace deal,” Machar spokesman Puok Both Buluang said.
He called on government to release funds it agreed to spend rolling out the accord. The extra six months would “give room” for resolving issues, he added.
South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, then plunged into conflict at the end of 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar as vice president.
Troops loyal to both men clashed in Juba that December and ethnically charged fighting spread, shutting down oil fields, forcing a third of the country’s population from their homes and killing more than 400 000.
The peace deal stopped the fighting but South Sudan’s government said it does not have finances to fund disarmament and integration of rebels into the army.
To date it allocated $10 million of a pledged $100 million, according to the international body monitoring the ceasefire.
Both sides disagree on details of the deal, including the number of states South Sudan should have. Under the accord, they agree to hold elections after a three year transition period.
A UN Security Council delegation visited Juba this month to pressure both sides to solve their remaining disputes over the pact.
It is unlikely fighting will resume after the missed deadline, said Alan Boswell, a senior analyst with Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group.
This is largely because most of the international community is urging both sides to agree on a new road map to salvage the deal, he said.