South Su­dan Pres­i­dent Kiir signs peace deal de­spite doubts

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Su­dan Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir signed a deal Wed­nes­day to end 20 months of war in the world’s youngest na­tion, but added a list of reser­va­tions that raised doubts about whether peace would take hold.

The sign­ing cer­e­mony was held in the cap­i­tal Juba un­der the threat of United Na­tions sanc­tions if Kiir failed to put his name to the ac­cord, which had al­ready been signed by rebel leader Riek Machar.

At least seven cease­fires have al­ready been agreed and then shat­tered within days — if not hours — in South Su­dan, which broke away from Su­dan in 2011.

“The cur­rent peace we are sign­ing to­day has so many things we have to re­ject,” Kiir said at the cer­e­mony, at­tended by lead­ers of neigh­bor­ing Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

“Such reser­va­tions, if ig­nored, would not be in the in­ter­ests of just and last­ing peace.”

The United States, the key sup­porter of South Su­dan’s state­hood, wel­comed the sign­ing and said the peace deal should be im­ple­mented as it stands.

“We do not rec­og­nize any reser­va­tions or ad­den­dums to that agree­ment,” said U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Su­san Rice in a state­ment from Washington.

On the eve of the sign­ing, the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil had ramped up the pres­sure on Kiir, threat­en­ing “im­me­di­ate ac­tion” if he failed to sign or signed with reser­va­tions.

But the coun­cil on Wed­nes­day gave Kiir un­til Sept. 1 to get fully be­hind the peace deal as it weighed a pos­si­ble arms em­bargo and tar­geted sanc­tions.

The United States last week pre­sented a draft U.N. res­o­lu­tion on those puni­tive mea­sures, which would go into ef­fect Sept. 6.

“The dead­line for (Kiir) is Sept. 1,” said Nige­rian Am­bas­sador to the U.N. Joy Ogwu, who chairs the coun­cil this month. “He has room to play.”

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple are es­ti­mated to have died in a war marked by eth­nic killings and rape that have fu­eled one of the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian crises.

The deal was bro­kered by the re­gional eight-na­tion IGAD bloc, along with the U.N., the African Union, main­land China, Bri­tain, Nor­way and the United States.

The ac­cord com­mits both sides to end fight­ing and im­ple­ment a “per­ma­nent ceasefire” within 72 hours, but both the gov­ern­ment and rebels ac­cused each other of launch­ing at­tacks against the other on Wed­nes­day.

Re­vis­it­ing the Deal

The deal gives the rebels the post of first vice pres­i­dent, which means that Machar would likely re­turn to the job from which he was sacked in July 2013, an event which put the coun­try on the path to war later that year.

Fight­ing erupted in De­cem­ber 2013 when Kiir ac­cused his for­mer deputy Machar of plan­ning a coup, un­leash­ing a wave of killings that has split the coun­try along eth­nic lines.

At the cer­e­mony in Juba, the gov­ern­ment re­leased a list of con­cerns to be ad­dressed for the peace ac­cord to take hold.

“It is not a Bi­ble, it is not the Ko­ran, why should it not be re­vis­ited?” Kiir said of the deal.

“Let us give our­selves time and see how we can cor­rect these things.”

The gov­ern­ment cited con­cerns over pro­vi­sions on the makeup of a mon­i­tor­ing com­mis­sion tasked with polic­ing the deal and on the de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion of Juba that would give greater pow­ers to the rebels.

De­spite Kiir’s reser­va­tions, re- gional lead­ers wel­comed the ac­cord.

“This is the day the peo­ple of South Su­dan have been wait­ing 20 months for,” said Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Haile­mariam De­salegn.

“This was not a just war, it was an un­just war. It was a wrong war, at a wrong place, at a wrong time — and the sooner you fin­ish it the bet­ter,” said Ugan­dan Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni.

Un­der the deal, Mu­sev­eni has 45 days to with­draw troops that he had sent to South Su­dan to shore up Kiir’s forces.

U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Kimoon wel­comed the sign­ing and said the chal­lenge now be­fore South Su­dan’s lead­ers was to im­ple­ment the peace deal.

“The road ahead will be dif­fi­cult,” said Ban. Some 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple have been driven from their homes in the con­flict. About 200,000 ter­ri­fied civil­ians are shel­ter­ing at U.N. bases.

AP

South Su­dan Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir, seated, signs a peace deal as Kenya’s Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, cen­ter-left, Ethiopia’s Prime Min­is­ter Haile­mariam De­salegn, cen­ter-right, and Uganda’s Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni, right, wit­ness the sign­ing, in the cap­i­tal Juba, South Su­dan, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 26.

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