South Sudan’s leader to sign peace deal

2015-08-26 12:43
South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

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Juba (dpa) - South Sudan's government promised to sign a peace deal aimed at ending 20 months of civil conflict, regional mediators said on Tuesday, days after the United States mobilised for sanctions.

President Salva Kiir promised to sign the deal on August 26 in South Sudan's capital Juba, the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has played a mediating role, said in a statement.

Rebel leader Riek Machar already signed the document in neighbouring Ethiopia on August 18, but Kiir had rejected the deal.

Kiir's about-turn comes five days after the United States circulated a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would impose an arms embargo and additional sanctions on South Sudan unless a ceasefire agreement was signed.

In New York, Peter Iliichev, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, said negotiations over the resolution were ongoing. If Kiir signed the peace agreement on Wednesday, however, the resolution might not be necessary, he told reporters.

Escalating war

"We don't need this resolution anymore because the main purpose is achieved," Iliichev said.

He noted that Russia doesn't see the point of an arms embargo, because it's not clear whether neighbouring countries would agree to and implement such measures.

Cristian Barros, Chile's ambassador to the UN and chair of the Security Council sanctions committee on South Sudan, told the council in a briefing that the supply of arms has been "instrumental in prolonging and escalating the war."

Barros noted the recommendation from the panel of experts on the sanctions committee to immediately impose an arms embargo, because ongoing fighting fueled by the flow of arms makes parties less likely to adhere to and implement a ceasefire agreement.

The agreement foresees a transitional power-sharing and security arrangement to end the fighting, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million.

The document also stipulates the framework for a permanent ceasefire, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction as well as institutional reforms.

Briefing the Security Council, Ellen Margrethe Loej, the head of the UN mission to South Sudan, said that the security situation remains "volatile and tense" in the country, with more than 200,000 civilians sheltering at six UN protection sites.

Ethnically based massacres

Loej said that 2.2 million people are currently displaced and 4.6 million are facing food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Tuesday that two of its South Sudanese aid workers had been killed last week in the country's Unity State during separate attacks on villages.

"We're deeply shocked and saddened by the killings of our colleagues," said Tara Newell, MSF emergency manager.

"It's an indication of current level of violence that people living in Unity state today are exposed to."

According to the UN, at least 29 humanitarian aid workers have been killed since the conflict began.

A power struggle between Kiir and Machar turned violent mid-December 2013, leading to ethnically based massacres and other atrocities. The European Union and the United States have already imposed sanctions on some South Sudanese military leaders.

Read more on:    un  |  riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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