S. Sudan Group Seeks Deal Extension 04/21 11:29
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) -- South Sudan's opposition is calling for a
six-month extension to implement next steps in a fragile peace deal as a major
deadline approaches next month to form a power-sharing government between the
president and his longtime rival.
Opposition deputy chairman Henry Odwar told The Associated Press on Saturday
that the extension is needed because security arrangements are not yet adequate.
South Sudan's government rejects the idea of an extension, further raising
concerns among observers that the peace agreement signed in September could
fall apart. The deal ended five years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000
people and sent millions fleeing.
There could be a "constitutional vacuum" if opposition leader Riek Machar
does not return to South Sudan as scheduled to form the transitional government
that is meant to culminate in elections, government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny
May 12 is the deadline for Machar to return and once again serve as
President Salva Kiir's deputy, an arrangement that more than once has ended in
gunfire. In a striking gesture meant to urge the rivals to finally make peace,
Pope Francis knelt and kissed their feet during a meeting at the Vatican
earlier this month.
The opposition has expressed "serious concerns" about the agreement. It
would be a "recipe for disaster" if Machar returns without security measures in
place, his wife, Angelina Teny, has said.
The committee charged with overseeing the peace deal's initial stages will
consider the six-month extension request on Wednesday, according to the
opposition. The committee is made up of members of the government and various
This latest peace deal has been marked by delays and continued fighting in
parts of the country, with key aspects yet to be implemented. South Sudan's
internal boundaries have not yet been drawn. A unified national army has not
Alan Boswell, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, warned
that the deal would "look very flimsy if Kiir unilaterally forms a new
government without Machar."
South Sudanese are already wary of possible violence next month, said a
recent report by the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a local
advocacy group. Without clear messaging from the parties' leaders the risk of
citizens "panicking is high," it said.