South Sudan rivals agree to meet unity government deadline

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN (AP) — South Sudan’s rival leaders have agreed to form a coalition government by the February deadline, a South African special envoy said.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in their latest talks this week also agreed that key outstanding issues under the country’s 2018 peace deal would be arbitrated within 90 days of the new government’s formation, South African Deputy President David Mabuza said on Thursday.

The United States (US) and others have pressured South Sudan’s rival leaders to meet the February 22 deadline after they failed to meet one last November. The country’s five-year civil war that erupted just two years after South Sudan won independence from Sudan killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions.

Key issues that remain include the number of states South Sudan should have. Mabuza said that question will be submitted to other signatories of the peace deal. Certain security issues are also outstanding but there is progress, Mabuza said.

Military generals from neighbouring Uganda and Sudan are leading the process of training and screening the national army as it combines with thousands of formerly armed opposition members.

“Yes, we have not covered everything that should be covered, but there is commitment things are going to come right,” Mabuza said.