South Sudan warring sides meet to sign peace deal
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar have met in the Ethiopian capital ahead of a deadline to come to an agreement that would end the country’s civil war.
The two sides have been holding meetings over Sunday and Monday, the day of the deadline, set by the regional eight-nation bloc of East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the talks.
South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy, Machar, around the capital Juba. The clashes left thousands of people dead and forced almost two million people from their homes.
At least seven ceasefires have already been agreed and soon broken.
Kiir has said he had been “compelled” to join the talks, and warned it would not be possible to sign a lasting or full peace deal as long as there is division among the opposition factions.
Last week, powerful rebel general Peter Gadet and other key commanders accused Machar of seeking monopoly of power, and said they would not recognize any agreement, which could be signed in Addis Ababa.
“A peace that cannot be sustained cannot be signed,” Kiir said Sunday. “You should sign something that you will enjoy. If it is signed today and then tomorrow we go back to war, then what have we achieved?”
The talks have also been joined by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is hosting the negotiations, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Kenyatta has voiced optimism regarding the dialogue, saying on Sunday that the talks were “on course to strike a deal.”