South Sudan to sign new peace deal with rebel

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir says he believes the new peace deal between his government and the main rebel group will not collapse.

President Kiir was different and not forced upon them like previous accords.

At a news conference in Juba, President Kiir said he would travel to Khartoum to sign the agreement at the ceremony on Sunday. His arch foe Riek Machar, leader of the SPLM-IO rebel group which has fought Kiir’s forces intermittently since 2013, is also expected to attend.

Personal and ethnic rivalries
Fuelled by personal and ethnic rivalries, the conflict has killed tens of thousands, displaced an estimated quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million and ruined its economy that heavily relies on crude oil production.

Previous peace accords
Previous peace agreements, the most recent in 2015, held for only a matter of months before fighting resumed. President Kiir put this down to external influences. Both the 2015 and the 2018 agreements were mediated by Sudan and other east African nations.

“The 2015 (deal) was forced on us, we were not given the opportunity to express our desire. This is why when I came to sign… I gave my reservations,” President Kiir said.

“People didn’t take me seriously until the agreement collapsed in their face.” But the new deal would not suffer the same fate, he told reporters.

President Kiir said; “This agreement (2018) will not collapse and I am sure that it will not collapse because the people of South Sudan have now agreed that they must make peace among themselves.”

Peace deal negotiation
’’Negotiations for the peace deal had been completed and any outstanding issues with his opponents would be settled after signing of the deal,’’ President Kiir said.

The conflict has also been driven by ethnic divisions – Kiir and Machar come from Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups respectively.

Some smaller opposition groups have expressed doubts over the new deal. The SPLM says it contains several shortfalls, including a “serious lack of consistency in allocating power-sharing ratios at all levels of governance”.

President Kiir’s side will take 20 slots in the new 35-member government, while Machar’s SPLM-IO and other smaller opposition groups will take the rest.

“I am going to sign,” President Kiir told journalists.

“The agreement is in place and we will remain committed … and will implement (it),” he said.

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere