23 February 2018

South Sudan: Kiir Blames U.S. for Peace Talks Collapse

Photo: UNICEF / Ohanesian
Displaced in South Sudan (file photo).

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir blames the United States for the collapse of the latest peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mr Kiir told the East African Community summit in Kampala on Thursday that the US arms embargo imposed just days before the scheduled revitalisation talks was the reason why they fell apart.

Two weeks of negotiations in Ethiopia ended in a stalemate after the government and several rebel factions disagreed on nearly all key issues.

The talks held on February 5-16 had sought to review all the five chapters of the 2015 South Sudan Peace Agreement and their stages of implementation.

President Kiir said the decision by the US to restrict the sale of defence weapons to his country instead emboldened the opposition groups who now believe his government will collapse.

He accused the US of "bullying" and "talking the action [imposing the arms embargo] to cow South Sudan and take its resources".

Mr Kiir appealed to the EAC to "protect its members from such bullying", adding that he was ready to resume talks in March.

Juba appears confident that the regional states are likely not to enforce the arms embargo.

South Sudan plunged into war in December 2013 after a dispute between President Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar.

Nearly a year after the August 2015 peace agreement, fresh fighting broke out between forces allied to the two leaders forcing Dr Machar to flee to exile in South Africa.

The war, now in its fifth year, has taken an ethnic turn with several splinter rebel groups formed.

More than one million South Sudanese have fled the country, another two million are displaced and tens of thousands have died.

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