South Sudan Rebels Refuse Ceasefire

Rebel leader Riek Machar has said that the deal presented is not what he previously agreed to. The government of Sudan has been keen to broker peace, but a final deal remains elusive.

Hopes were high in South Sudan on Tuesday, as rebels were set to ink the latest version of a truce with the government in Juba that would have ended years of civil war. However, despite recent breakthroughs in peace talks, former vice president turned rebel leader Riek Machar refused to sign the deal.

"The main South Sudanese opposition groups, including the SPLM-IO (Machar's faction), refused to sign the final document demanding that their reservations be guaranteed in it," said Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, whose government has been the main broker in the ceasefire talks.

However, the rebels said in a statement that they were refusing to sign the document because it did not include essential provisions about a new constitution they say they agreed to after an initial deal in June.

"This is an unfortunate development that will not reflect well on the impartiality of the mediators and will throw doubt onto the whole process," they said.

For their own part, the mediators in the Sudanese government said that they believed there was no chance of a ceasefire without Machar's blessing.

US skeptical of both Machar and Kiir

Fighting broke out between factions loyal to Machar and the military under President Salva Kiir in 2013, just two years after South Sudan gained independence. Clashes have continued almost unabated since.

The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced at least 3 million of the country's 12 million inhabitants, destroyed an economy reliant on oil production.

Sudan, which lost a great deal of oil revenue when the South broke away, has been enthusiastic about the peace process and promised to help rebuild oil infrastructure facilities. The United States, however, which backed South Sudan's 2011 independence, has remained skeptical about whether Machar and Kiir are capable of sticking to a peace deal.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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