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No more delays to South Sudan peace deal, East Africans warn

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, whose fall out in 2013 sparked a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead, face a 22 February deadline to form a government.

In this file photo taken on 7 July 2018 President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir (R), shakes hands with opposition leader Riek Machar (L) during peace talks at Uganda's statehouse in Entebbe where they were received by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (C). Picture: AFP

ADDIS ABABA - East African nations said Sunday there could be no more delays in forming a power-sharing government in war-torn South Sudan, despite talks between rival leaders ending in deadlock.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, whose fall out in 2013 sparked a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead, face a 22 February deadline to form a government.

The new government's formation was delayed twice last year, and the clock runs out on the latest 100-day extension on 22 February.

"Further extension is neither desirable nor feasible at this stage of the peace process," the eight-member East African bloc Igad said in a statement late Sunday.

Old rivals Kiir and Machar met on Sunday in Ethiopia on the sidelines of the African Union summit, alongside the leaders of the neighbouring nations - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hambok, Igad's current chair.

But they made no breakthrough to resolve their dispute over the number of regional states, a contentious issue because the borders will set out divisions of power and control in the young country.

Kiir is due to "consult with the people", Minister of Information Michael Makeui told AFP on Sunday, without giving details of what that will entail.

South Sudan's presidency said in a statement that a new Igad summit would be organised on 18 February to reach "a final decision" on the question of regional states, although Igad officials were less certain on the date.

"The chair will call the summit at a mutually convenient time," said Igad official Abdullahi Busuri.

A peace deal signed in September 2018 led to a reduction in fighting, but the UN human rights commission warned Friday that violence was on the rise ahead of the 22 February deadline.

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