Africa

South Sudan rebel leader threatens to pull out of peace deal

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar on Sunday threatened to pull out of a September 2018 peace agreement if President Salva Kiir goes ahead to form a unity government without resolving outstanding security issues.

Machar, leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) told the visiting delegation of the Security Council in Juba that his group would not take part in unity government without accomplishment of security reforms and determination of the number of states.

Machar proposed further extension of the pre-transitional period to give time to complete the security arrangements.

“The critical issues must be resolved. The security arrangements must be in place at least. If not, the ceasefire which we have been enjoying for this whole year will be ruptured,” Machar said.

But Machar’s comments were not welcomed by other signatories to the peace deal as they insisted on forming the unity government by November 12.

“The way forward is that we must form an inclusive government that must address the challenges, whatever time we extend, we are going to face the same challenges,” said Peter Mayen, head of the Umbrella of political parties.

Machar held face-to-face meeting with President Salva Kiir on Sunday on the pending security, but the two leaders failed to reach a resolution as the meeting was cut short after the arrival of the 15-member Security Council. The two leaders are expected to meet again for further discussions.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to both leaders.

The conflict killed tens of thousands and displaced millions both internally and externally. A peace deal signed in 2015 collapsed after outbreak of renewed violence in July 2016, forcing Machar to flee the capital.

Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the United Nations urged the country’s leaders to compromise on their differences and redouble efforts to bring lasting peace and stability in the conflict-torn country.

“The Security Council has stated that this agreement provides a window of opportunity to at least achieve sustainable peace and stability,” Craft said.

“As leaders, it is your responsibility to lift up those you serve and realise the hopes of your people. Now it is time to recommit to the ceasefire agreement and a non-violent future,” Craft said. -Xinhua

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