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US wants Riek Machar in unity government

The US has warned it will not accept any transitional unity government in Juba that excludes Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO).

The US ambassador to South Sudan, Mr Thomas Hushek, said the warring parties must get their act together and implement some of the significant outstanding issues before the November 12 deadline for forming the unity government.

The peace agreement is what will birth the new government and the parties to it must cooperate, Mr Hushek told journalists in Juba.

President Salva Kiir late last month threatened to form the transitional government without Dr Machar, citing intransigence on part of the rebel leader, with little time to the deadline.

The two leaders recently met in Juba where they agreed to speed up the screening and registration of their forces, with a view to forming a joint military.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), which mediated the revitalised peace deal signed in September 2018, recently invited the warring parties for further talks in Ethiopia.

However, the meeting aimed at helping speed up the implementation of outstanding issues, flopped as faction leaders never turned up.

Mr Hushek also disclosed that he had already reached out to Gen Thomas Cirilo, who leads the National Salvation Front, to join the peace process and pursue his political objectives through non-violent means.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 after President Kiir sacked his then deputy, Dr Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leaders.

Under the 2018 peace deal, Dr Machar should take up one of the four vice-presidency positions in the transitional government.

The warring parties failed to form the unified force by the September 30 deadline.

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