‘Dispute over outstanding issues will not delay unity govt’

The South Sudanese government said on Thursday the ongoing dispute with the opposition over the number of states and boundaries will only be settled when the transitional unity government is formed as the November deadline approaches.

Tut Kew Gatluak, presidential security advisor and head of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) said the government will go ahead with the formation of the unity government despite the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) objecting to the formation of the unity government before unresolved contentious issues are settled.

“All arrangements on the implementation of the peace agreement are done and we are ready to form the transitional unity government on time without any delay. There is nothing ahead of us apart from the formation of the transitional unity government,” Gatluak told journalists in Juba.

“The issue of states and boundaries will not delay the formation of the transitional unity government,” the official said.

 NPTC is the body charged with implementing the peace agreement signed in September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in Ethiopia.

According to the revitalised peace deal, the government will share the disputed 32 states with SPLM/A-IO and other opposition groups.

The opposition is in favour of reverting the 32 states created by President Kiir in 2014 to the former 10 states, arguing that the status quo was unsustainable as tension exists between local communities over boundaries.

Gatluak also said that forces from both sides are already being screened and registered before entering the over 30 cantonment sites across the country where they will eventually form the unified force of 83,000.

The warring parties failed to form the transitional unity government in May and both agreed to a six-month extension before the formation of the much-awaited transitional unity government on November 12.

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional body that mediated the revitalised peace deal signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia, recently said the warring parties failed to form the unified force by the September 30 deadline.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 after Kiir sacked his deputy Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to respective leaders. The conflict killed tens of thousands and displaced millions both internally and externally. -Xinhua

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