Juba – International donors said on Thursday they would no longer pay hotel bills for South Sudan rebel delegates with talks “deadlocked” a day before a deadline to forge a unity government.
Donors “contributed very substantial financial support” to transport 240 rebels to the capital Juba and house them for the past month, a statement from the United States and the so-called Troika, made up of key donors Britain, Norway and the European Union.
The rivals are supposed to form a government of national unity by January 22 and the donors said they would cease to pay hotel bills after that date.
“It is with deep regret we take note of the current developments, where the process seems deadlocked,” the statement read. “We urge all parties to do their utmost and act in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the peace agreement in order to meet the deadline.”
Payment of hotel bills – likely to have cost tens of thousands of dollars – was an “exceptional, one-time” support for the bid to form a unity government.
“This means that support for all those now being provided accommodation in Juba will end on that date,” the statement added.
“It does not mean that our support to the peace process will end. It is an opportunity for the parties to demonstrate their commitment and find a solution that allows implementation to continue.”
String of deals
During previous peace talks mostly held in Ethiopia, delegates have run up vast hotel and bar bills as they agreed – and then swiftly broke – a string of ceasefire deals.
Civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken country along ethnic lines.
Despite the August agreement fighting continues, with the conflict now involving multiple militia forces who pay little heed to paper peace deals and are driven by local agendas or revenge attacks.
Earlier this week the United Nations said over 200 000 South Sudanese civilians are sheltering inside peacekeepers’ camps from civil war, a bleak barometer of ongoing conflict.
The donors said they would “only be able to mobilise additional external support and assistance” if a unity government was formed and there was “sincere commitment by all parties to implement the agreement”.
Last week ceasefire monitors called on rival forces to allow food into conflict zones where aid workers have warned tens of thousands may be dying of starvation.