S. Sudan president slams peace deal as ‘divisive, unprecedented’ — but will still implement it

From: Berhane Habtemariam <>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2015 22:41:21 +0200

Francis Okech, Bloomberg

Salva Kiir signed agreement under immense pressure from the international community, but it has in recent weeks seemed to be creaking.

Member of the rebel 'White Army'. South Sudan's peace agreement, recently signed, has been under strain. (AFP photo)

Member of the rebel 'White Army'. South Sudan's peace agreement, recently signed, has been under strain. (AFP photo)

SOUTH Sudanese President Salva Kiir said his government will implement an agreement aimed at ending almost two years of civil war, despite it being one of the most divisive accords in the nation’s history.

Kiir signed the accord, mediated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development, on August 26 after the US proposed imposing sanctions if he failed to meet a September 1 deadline to end violence that has killed tens of thousands of people.

“The IGAD-prescribed peace document is the most divisive and unprecedented document seen in the history of our country,” Kiir said Tuesday in a speech in the capital, Juba. “I am now ready to implement this agreement in order to overcome the humanitarian challenges facing our country.”

Fighting erupted in the oil-producing nation in December 2013 between government forces and rebels after Kiir accused Riek Machar, his former deputy, of plotting to topple him. Machar signed the peace accord the week before Kiir.

But the deal has shown signs of creaking, despite having been signed under the keen eye of an international community that had grown weary of the lack of movement

On Monday the military said it repelled a fresh rebel attack. Army spokesman Philip Aguer said rebels attacked government positions close to the key town of Malakal—capital of Upper Nile state—early Monday, but the army “repulsed them, and the situation was now calm.”

But he also said that large numbers of militia fighters, from the ethnic Nuer “White Army” force, were “massing south of Malakal preparing for an attack”.

Trading blame

The army and rebels have repeatedly accused each other of breaking the latest ceasefire deal, the eighth such agreement to have been signed since war broke out.

Despite ongoing fighting, both sides say the political deal remains in place.

On Sunday, Aguer said rebels and the army had fought in the neighbouring battleground state of Unity, leaving five soldiers and a woman dead as well as several injured.

“There too the situation is now under control,” Aguer said.

It was not possible to independently verify the reports. Each side has previously dismissed the other’s accusations as lies.

Monitors from the regional East Africa bloc IGAD, which led efforts to negotiate the peace deal, are meant to be overseeing the ceasefire.

But IGAD personnel lack the resources to monitor the rival forces, fractured into multiple militia units, with the rebels themselves divided.

—Additional reporting by AFP

Received on Tue Sep 15 2015 - 16:41:22 EDT

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