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We signed peace deal under duress, Kiir claims

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir delivers a speech upon returning in Juba on May 11, 2014, a day after signing a peace deal with rebels in Addis Ababa. PHOTO/AFP



South Sudan President Salva Kiir has claimed that he and former vice president turned rebel leader Dr Riek Machar signed a peace deal Friday in Addis Ababa to avoid threats of arrest by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.

The truce, which has so far been violated, was intended to end five months of deadly violence in which both sides have been accused of widespread human rights abuse.

Mr Kiir said after a lengthy meeting with Mr Machar, that Prime Minister Dessalegn came to him to say the problem had become so tough.

“This matter has involved threats. He (PM) told Riek that you are not going if you don’t sign this,” Mr Kiir said, referring to a proposed peace deal.

“He told me the same in the morning. He told me that ‘if you don’t sign this, I will arrest you here’,” Mr Kiir told a crowd at Juba International airport upon his arrival in the country on Sunday.

“I said ‘if you arrest me in this good place, I am sure I will get good food. So there will be no need to return to Juba. You will feed me for free here,” he said.

He said the PM gave Mr Machar copies of the proposed peace deal, which he signed.

He said he asked for time to present them to his negotiation team before signing.

Mr Machar’s spokesman had earlier denied any face to face talks between the two principals as earlier demanded by the United States secretary of state John Kerry.

South Sudan descended into chaos after a failed December 15 coup which President Kiir claimed was organised by Mr Machar.

Mr Machar denied the claims but quickly mobilised a rebellion.

The war has claimed thousands of lives and more than 1.2 million people forced to flee their homes.

The Kiir-Machar peace deal was the latest attempt to bring an end to the bloodshed.

The deal included humanitarian access corridors and the formation of a transitional government to run the country on an agreed upon program until the elections.

But two days after the signing, army spokesman accused rebels of violating the truce. The rebels denied that they first attacked the government positions, but insisted that the army had attacked them in several fronts. could not independently verify the claims.

Source: Daily Nation



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