Now that the implementation of South Sudan’s shaky peace agreement has officially been delayed by six months, worries are mounting that a half year leaves enough time for things to go badly wrong in a country where suspicion between the warring parties runs deep.
All parties face immense challenges in putting in place a deal to end a five-year conflict that has killed almost 400,000 people, displaced millions, and left parts of the country famished.
Delaying the peace plan means that instead of a transitional power-sharing government being installed this month as stipulated by an agreement signed last September, opposition leader Riek Machar is now expected to return to the capital, Juba, in November to serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy.
While the international community has lauded the parties’ ability to come to a consensus over the postponement, it has warned that progress must be made over the next six months and that another delay is out of the question.
Meanwhile, South Sudanese are increasingly wary that the longer the fragile deal is delayed, the less likely it will be that peace will hold.
“I am not comfortable with the extension,” said William Magok, who is eager to leave his UN-protected displaced persons camp in Juba, where he has been living since 2013. “Now I am afraid to leave because if I go, maybe something bad will happen… I do not trust the government.”