AU official says optimistic South Sudanese factions will set up transitional government before new deadline

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South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)

A senior African Union (AU) Commission official on Monday expressed optimism that South Sudanese factions would establish a transitional government before a new, extended deadline expires in 12 days.

“As we speak, we are still working on the last issues remaining, that is the issue of numbers of the states,” AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui told a press conference on Monday at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of the 33rd AU summit.

The theme of the Feb. 9-10 summit is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

“We are hopeful this issue (number of South Sudanese states) will be solved, and we can secure the transitional government within the remaining 12 days,” Chergui said.

A week before, the 55-member pan-African bloc called on all South Sudanese parties to “unequivocally” adhere to the extended deadline of 100 days for the formation of an inclusive Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.

“The Peace and Security Council of the AU urges all parties to unequivocally adhere to the extended deadline of Feb. 22, 2020, the second extension of 100 days for the formation of an inclusive Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity, with a view to rebuilding trust and confidence,” the AU said in a statement last week.

The council welcomed efforts by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and leaders of the other opposition groups to continuously hold generative dialogue, and encouraged “all parties to continue to address the difficult issues confronting the implementation of the peace agreement and to sustain the dialogue.”

The world’s youngest nation descended into civil war in late 2013 following a conflict between Kiir and former vice president Machar, creating one of the fastest-growing refugee crises in the world.

A peace deal that was signed in August 2015 collapsed after renewed violence in the capital, Juba, in July 2016.

Under the 2018 peace deal, Machar will take up one of the four vice presidency positions in the transitional government. Enditem

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