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Thursday, 04 March 2021

Patience running out for South Sudan peace deal: Monitor

AFP , Thursday 24 Mar 2016
Kiir , Machar
File Photo: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (front L) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa (Photo: Reuters)
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Ceasefire monitors in South Sudan warned warring forces on Thursday that international patience was running out amid their repeated failure to implement a peace deal signed seven months ago.

Fighting in the more than two-year long war rages on despite the August agreement, said Festus Mogae, who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), set up by the regional IGAD bloc to ensure the peace deal is implemented.

"Let me be frank and tell you that the patience of the international community -- as is my own -- is being tested," Mogae said.

"I remain concerned at the ongoing delays, at the ceasefire violations that continue, and in the deteriorating economic situation," he added.

Rebel chief Riek Machar was named as vice-president in February, but is yet to return to the capital Juba, while plans to form a transitional unity government are stalled.

The world's youngest country is struggling to stem soaring inflation caused by the war, rampant corruption and the near collapse of the oil industry upon which the vast percentage of government foreign exchange earnings depend.

Civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

Tens of thousands have been killed in a war marked by atrocities, with over two million forced from their homes, and over six million in need of emergency food aid.

"The term of the transitional government, which should have begun months ago, is rapidly elapsing," Mogae said, warning that the "country cannot afford any more delays."

The conflict now involves multiple militia forces driven by local agendas or revenge, who pay little heed to paper peace deals, and Mogae warned that, "formation of a new government will not in itself be a panacea."

Meanwhile, Kiir sacked his foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, one of his longest serving and most loyal allies, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said Thursday, explaining that "many things might have contributed" to the decision.

Benjamin's sacking comes days after he called former minister turned government critic Luka Biong Deng a foreigner from Sudan since he hails from the contested border region of Abyei.

It sparked angry reactions from many in South Sudan who say the Lebanon-sized Abyei region is an integral part of the southern nation.

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