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Fund PEACE, not roads – opposition leaders stress

September 6, 2019 South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

(WAU) – South Sudan’s opposition leaders said that the government’s failure to make funds available for the implementation of a peace accord could plunge the country back into war.

What is the priority, those roads or the peace?” said Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the rebel group led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

The country’s largest rebel group accused President Salva Kiir of failing to provide $100 million needed to support the establishment of a transitional government within two months. The criticism intensified after reports that Kiir’s administration allocated $700 million to build a highway.

“What is the point of saying that we don’t have funds and yet you have heard that the government is going to build a $700 million road? What is the priority, those roads or the peace?” said Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the rebel group led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

In the worst-case scenario, the alternative “would be war,” Odwar said in an interview in the capital, Juba.

President Kiir and several rebel groups signed an agreement a year ago in an attempt to resolve a conflict that erupted in December 2013 and has killed an estimated 400,000 people. The government agreed to seek outside support as well as make its own financial contribution toward stabilizing the country and rebuilding an economy ruined by five years of fighting.

Development is the government’s responsibility and has to continue as planned, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said. While the government started the implementation of the peace accord by delivering food to military barracks, the “opposition forces” are not moving in, he said.

Under the terms of the accord, the rebels are to join a transitional government, integrate fighters into the army and settle disputes over regional boundaries. The militants, who in May asked for a six-month delay because of ill-preparedness, said the situation hasn’t changed much. There is still no confidence in the security arrangement, according to Odwar.

Lasting peace would boost the production of oil, which hovered around 350,000 barrels a day when South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, but then dropped by about half after civil war erupted in 2013.

The conflict has also displaced so many farmers that more than half of the nation’s 12.5 million people are now relying on food assistance.

The nation could quickly double its production of cereals to meet domestic demand if calm returns, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s country representative, Meshack Malo.

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