By Benjamin Takpiny
JUBA, South Sudan (AA) - South Sudan's president said he would form a transitional government of national unity in November, even if the main opposition leader refused.
Speaking at a religious ceremony ahead of a previously agreed upon deadline to form of the transitional unity government, Salva Kiir Mayardit promised he would form the administration with other parties in November even if Riek Machar declined to join.
"Even if the SPLM-IO [Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition] under Machar doesn’t want the formation of the Transitional government of national unity in November, I will go ahead with other political parties’ signatories to the revitalized peace agreement and form the transitional government of national unity," he said.
Kiir urged SPLM-IO Deputy Chairman Henry Odwar to tell Riek to come to the capital, Juba, in order to begin work to form the government on time, asserting that Machar had nothing to fear, and that he had received the opposition leader "with open arms and heart" during a previous visit.
He called all parties that signed an agreement to form the unity government to work so that country does not descend into violence.
South Sudan slid into crisis when Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in December 2013 on suspicion of plotting a coup, followed by a protracted civil war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands and forced 4 million to flee their homes.
Before a 2018 peace deal, five years of fighting between the two leaders crippled the country, with millions displaced and almost 400,000 people dead from violence and disease.