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South Sudan peace talks postponed day after Kiir, Machar rare meeting

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
President Salva Kiir (right) of South Sudan shakes hands with leader Riek Machar after concluding a peace deal to end the conflict in the country (September 2018 - Photo: UNMISS).

JUBA, South Sudan - South Sudan is at the brink of collapse with Juba expecting a peace deal to be brokered soonest to evade possible international sanctions.

President Salva Kiir and his political nemesis Riek Machar have yet another six months to constitute a government, with United Nations exerting pressure on both sides.

But a meeting that resumed on Wednesday was prematurely abandoned on Thursday, with organizers postponing it for Friday.

Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Sudanese Deputy Transitional leader, was in charge of the talks which took place at the presidential palace on Wednesday.

"Discussions between President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar have been postponed to tomorrow," South Sudan's Radio Miraya reported.

However, SPLM-IO senior member Puot Kang Chol, who revealed about the postponement, did not give further details about the progress.

The two protagonists were expected to form a unity government on Nov 12th but failed to beat the deadline, causing retribution from the United States.

While Machar's team accused Kiir of refusing to fund the peace processes, South Sudan authorities said they had released 30 percent of $100 million that was agreed.

Among topical issues that would emerge in the latest discussions include an amalgamation of rebel forces with the country's army, resettlement of refugees among others.

Last month, the United States, which is the highest sponsor of the peace deal, withdrew her envoy, causing further uncertainty in Juba.

Ambassador Thomas Hushek will return for consultations "as part of the re-evaluation of the U.S. relationship with the Government of South Sudan given the latest developments," the department had said in a statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that Washington would "work with the region to support efforts to achieve peace and a successful political transition in South Sudan."

However, South Sudan insisted that it will continue engaging the US in a bid to thwart possible blockades from the West which could ruin the economy.

"Our position is still the same. We are still engaging with them and we have a good relationship," spokesman Mawien Makol had told Reuters.

Once best friends, enormous resources, alleged discrimination among others, led to bloody fallout in 2013, just two years after independence, leading to several deaths.

Machar, who was sacked as Vice President, took asylum in South Africa. It took the effort of regional IGAD to persuade him to return in 2019.

The two are also under pressure to form the proposed government following September 2019 peace deal, to avoid cancellation of their visas.