South Sudan opposition concerned over slow peace implementation

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JUBA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's main opposition party on Wednesday expressed concern over continued delays in concluding critical tasks under a 2018 revitalized peace deal.

It is almost two years since the formation of the revitalized transitional unity government, and yet the parties have not concluded graduation of the 83,000 unified forces, said Puok Both Baluang, director for public relations and communication of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) under First Vice President Riek Machar.

"It is almost one year and six months but we do not see much change except the ceasefire that is holding in the country. Until now there is no progress for the graduation of (unified) forces," Baluang told Xinhua in Juba.

President Salva Kiir, during his independence address on July 9, promised the graduation of the first batch of 53,000 forces.

The delay in implementing the security arrangement was one of the grievances of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-in-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), a breakaway faction led by Machar's former chief of staff, Simon Gatwech Dual.

The group has since declared hostilities toward Machar's supporters, leading to violent clashes in Upper Nile State that have left over 60 soldiers killed on both sides since August.

"All parties need to implement the security arrangement so that we move to implement the rest of the peace agreement to enable South Sudanese gain harmony and stability," said Baluang.

He said the SPLM-IO is committed to implementing the peace agreement, noting that all parties need to speed up implementation of the security arrangement in letter and spirit.

"We do not support any war in the country. People should not return back to war. We believe there is no need to shed blood and make people die," Baluang said.

According to peace monitors, several SPLA-IO soldiers and other opposition troops have been deserting cantonment sites over the past months due to lack of food, medicine, clean water and shelter.

The situation creates dilemma and challenge for the parties implementing the fragile peace deal, as they may be unable to graduate the number of unified forces as required. Enditem

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