South Sudan’s president has signed a peace deal aimed at ending a 20-month conflict with rebels but told regional African leaders at the ceremony that he still had “serious reservations”.
Salva Kiir, who has led South Sudan since it seceded from Sudan in 2011, last week asked for more time for consultations, drawing threats of UN sanctions if he failed to sign within a two-week deadline.
“With all those reservations that we have, we will sign this document,” he told African leaders gathered in Juba for the ceremony.
Rebel leader Riek Machar, Kiir’s long-time rival who is expected to take up office as the country’s “first vice-president” under the deal, signed the document last week in the Ethiopian capital.
The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, welcomed the signing of the peace deal but his spokesman noted in a statement that it must be implemented.
“Now is the time to ensure that this agreement translates into an end to the violence, hardship and horrific human rights violations witnessed throughout this conflict,” the statement said.
Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict erupted in December 2013 after a power struggle between Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and Kiir, from the dominant Dinka group. The fighting has increasingly followed ethnic lines, unsettling an already volatile region. Read more