South Sudan rebels reject president’s peace deal

New Europe - Elena Pavlovska

South Sudan rebels rejected the government’s peace offer to reduce the number of states and create three administrative areas in the country, aiming to pave the way for a unity government.

The country’s president Salva Kiir had said he would compromise by cutting the current 32 regional states back down to the original 10, which is one of the major demands of the rebels. The number of states is controversial because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.

However, Kiir also included three “administrative areas” of Pibor, Ruweng and Abyei. Rebel chief Riek Machar said he opposed the idea of three areas, saying it “cannot be referred to as reverting to 10 states” and “as such cannot be accepted”: “We therefore call upon President Kiir to reconsider this idea of creating administrative areas”, Machar said.

Kiir said returning to a system of 10 states was a “painful decision but a necessary one if that is what brings peace”. The most controversial of the three proposed areas is the oil-rich Ruweng, in the north.

Kiir and Machar agreed on a peace deal in 2018. However, they now face international pressure, including by the United States, to resolve their differences before a deadline set till 22 February.

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