Crisis looms ahead of new S. Sudan government, group warns

(JUBA) - South Sudan could slide back into war if a coalition government is formed on November 12 without reaching compromise on outstanding issues, a think tank warned Monday.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), in a briefing entitled, DejA� Vu: Preventing Another Collapse in South Sudan, said regional heads of states, the African Union (AU) and western diplomats should urge President Salva Kiir not to form a new government minus consensus.

They should step in to help mediate a way forward, given political paralysis among South Sudan's neighbours, initially envisioned as the deal's key guarantors, argued the group.

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, allegations he dismissed.

In September last year, the country's rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

According to the 2018 peace deal, a unity government was supposed to be formed in May, but due to unresolved issues, the parties agreed to a six-month extension, settling on November 12.

With barely a week to the November 12 deadline, Kiir is threatening to leave the main opposition leader, who is demanding delay to the new transitional government, out of a new cabinet.

Even if the two leaders agree to share power, disputes over security arrangements and state boundaries would poison the new administration, potentially leading to its collapse, said ICG.

The group urged regional leaders, the AU and western diplomats to push the parties to agree on state boundaries, a credible security plan for the capital, Juba and on a new timeline for military reform.

While mounting frustration with Kiir and Machar is justified, external actors should not press the two men to share power absent such agreements, stressed the group.

The United States has expressed frustration with both Kiir and Machar, threatening sanctions if they fail to form a government on time.

High-level political mediation, ICG argued, will be required to resolve the outstanding issues standing in the way of forming a viable and functional government while reducing risks to the country's population.

Simply pressing the parties to form a unity government is a strategy that could backfire if that government's foundation is so shaky that it cannot stand, it stressed.

At least 382,900 people died as a result of the conflict in the world's youngest nation, a report published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year revealed.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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