South Sudan's Machar calls for delay to unity govt as peace efforts stall

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir shakes hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan. [Reuters]
South Sudan's main opposition yesterday accused the 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.

The spokesman for former rebel leader Riek Machar said he did not believe he would be able to 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 US and regional powers.

There was no immediate comment from President Salva Kiir or from other countries who helped broker the accord. US officials said this month they would not accept any more delays and might impose sanctions if deadlines are not met.

"It's not rocket science that the government in Juba lacks political will to implement the peace deal," Machar's spokesman Puok Both Buluang said.

SEE ALSO :Rebel leader now threatens to pull out of peace deal

He called on the government to release funds it had agreed to spend on rolling out the accord. The extra six months would "give room" for resolving issues, he added.

South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, then plunged into its own conflict at the end of 2013 after President Kiir sacked Mr Machar as vice president.

Troops loyal to both men clashed in the capital 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 people.

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The peace deal has stopped the fighting. But South Sudan's government has said it does not have the finances to fund disarmament and the integration of rebels into the army. So far, it has allocated $10 million (Sh1 billion) of the pledged $100 million (Sh10 billion).

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Riek MacharSouth SudanSouth Sudan President Salva Kiir