New violence in South Sudan despite peace deal


uba (dpa) – South Sudan’s army and rebel came into armed conflict in northern Unity State, two days after President Salva Kiir signed a long-awaited peace deal, government said Friday.

The renewed fighting comes two days after Kiir signed an agreement already approved by rebel leader Riek Machar in an attempt to end their 20-month military conflict.

It was difficult to ascertain which side started the fighting, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told dpa.

Machar’s spokesman Dickson Gatluak meanwhile said his troops were on the “defensive” against the government, suggesting the army initiated the latest round of violence.

Infantry forces attacked rebel forces with heavy machineguns and gunboats in various locations of Unity State, according to Gatluak.

Kiir signed the pact, which had already been accepted by Machar on August 17, only six days after the United States circulated a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would have imposed an arms embargo and additional sanctions on South Sudan unless a ceasefire was signed.

The agreement foresees a transitional power-sharing and security arrangement to end the fighting, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2.2 million people.

The document also stipulates the framework for a permanent ceasefire, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction as well as institutional reforms.

A string of previous ceasefires has failed to stop the fighting that broke out when a power struggle between Kiir and Machar turned violent mid-December 2013.

More than 1.6 million people have been internally displaced and more than 600,000 have fled to neighbouring states, while about 200,000 have sought refuge in UN bases, according to the United Nations. About 4.6 million people could face a famine.