KAMPALA, ,Uganda (AP) — South Sudan's president said he is struggling with the idea of sharing power with rebels led by a former vice president who is likely to return to that post if a unity government is established.
"A proposal on the table includes a first and second vice president position, and in dispute are the status of each. We struggle with the notion that power can be achieved through violence," President Salva Kiir's office said in a statement seen Saturday. "We struggle with political gain at the expense of the people of South Sudan who have endured unnecessary bloodshed and insecurity in the past year. And yet we continue to discuss and weigh every proposal as we understand that only through compromise will we be able to reach a full and lasting peace."
The statement also said that although Vice President James Wani Igga is a trusted member of the government, he may lose his role under the terms of a peace deal being mediated by a regional bloc. Under the terms of that deal, which is still under negotiation, former Vice President Riek Machar could be installed as South Sudan's first vice president.
Machar had been Kiir's deputy until July 2013 when he was fired amid a power struggle in the country's ruling party. It is widely believed that the political rivalry between Kiir and Machar fueled the current conflict in South Sudan — the reason many international observers and diplomats say a political solution is needed to bring peace to the world's newest country.
South Sudan has seen sporadic fighting since December 2013 as government forces loyal to Kiir, a member of the dominant Dinka ethnic group, try to put down a rebellion led by Machar, who is of Nuer ethnicity.
Peace talks are expected to resume in neighboring Ethiopia later this month.
Although the warring factions have signed many peace agreements, none has resolved the conflict. This week South Sudan's government accused rebel forces of launching attacks on government positions in the oil-producing states of Upper Nile and Unity.