South Sudan : Rebels reject peace deal reinstating opposition leader Machar

Rebels in Africa’s youngest nation, South Sudan, have rejected a peace agreement announced on Sunday, saying it lacks enough authority to fulfill their main demands for diluting President Salva Kiir’s base of power.

An official of SPLM-IO rebel group said on Monday that the deal announced by Kiir’s office, which reinstated opposition leader Riek Machar as vice president, was not acceptable.

“We will not fall only for the position of the First Vice President in this negotiation. We are focusing more on structural and institutional issues to constrain Kiir’s regime both in the executive and legislature,” said Puok Both Baluang, SPLM-IO deputy spokesman.

Baluang said rebels should have the power to appoint two of Kiir’s deputies under the deal reached in Uganda’s Entebbe in talks attended by both Machar and Kiir.

The talks, mediated by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and closely monitored by other regional leaders, were part of diplomatic efforts to put an end to a war that broke out in 2013, after Machar left office as vice president.

Machar, who now serves as SPLM-IO leader, was not immediately available to comment on the new deal.

Machar was re-appointed as first deputy to Kiir in 2015 as part of a power-sharing deal. However, fighting reignited after he returned to the capital Juba.

The war in South Sudan, which has killed tens of thousands, is believed to be rooted in ethnic disputes between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer groups.

There are other militant groups that are Machar’s allies against Kiir, and some of them control areas close to Juba.

The war has devastated South Sudan’s economy, hardly allowing the country to stand on its feet since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

By Africafrique and agencies

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