Official: S. Sudan president may sign peace deal Wednesday

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 3:24 PM
Official: S. Sudan president may sign peace deal Wednesday

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan President Salva Kiir may sign a peace deal with rebels on Wednesday, more than a week after refusing to do so, a presidential spokesman said Tuesday. The U.N. Security Council threatened to "act immediately" if he doesn't.

Kiir will first express "reservations" about the agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar at a summit with regional leaders in the nation's capital, Juba, Ateny Wek Ateny said. He said Kiir is unhappy about the demands that Juba be demilitarized, the rebels will appoint two state governors, and a foreigner will head a monitoring commission.

Machar last week signed the deal, but Kiir said he needed more consultations.

Calling Kiir's move "outrageous," the United States then circulated a draft Security Council resolution that would impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions if South Sudan's government doesn't sign by Sept. 1.

The council will take immediate action if Kiir doesn't sign on Wednesday, the current U.N. Security Council president, Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu, told reporters.

South Sudan has been at war since December 2013, when a split within the security forces escalated into a violent rebellion led by Machar. The ethnic nature of the violence has alarmed the international community.

Thousands of people have been killed. More than 1.6 million people have been displaced. The U.N. says young girls have been raped and burned alive. Doctors Without Borders on Tuesday said two of its staff members were killed in Unity state last week.

A report by a U.N. panel of experts, made public Tuesday, said both sides in the conflict between government forces and rebels have targeted civilians. It also said "the intensity and brutality of the violence" since April has been the worst in an "exceedingly violent conflict."

The panel, which monitors U.N. sanctions, said a major Chinese state-owned arms supplier sold weapons worth more than $20 million to South Sudan's government last year, several months into the conflict. China North Industries Corp., or Norinco, provided arms that included 100 anti-tank guided missile launchers, 1,200 missiles, about 2,400 grenade launchers and 24 million rounds of various types of ammunition.

The report also said South Sudan's military has somehow obtained four attack helicopters since the start of the conflict. It had none before then.

The panel of experts obtained and published a $850 million military "emergency budget" for the first six months of 2014, saying that buying weapons "was from the very beginning of the conflict a central policy option."

Meanwhile, oil-rich South Sudan's public debt has climbed from zero at its independence in 2011 to $4.2 billion as of June.

The report says the panel has started to investigate "the financing channels used by the government and the opposition to prosecute the war and into those individuals and entities who gain financially from the continuation of the conflict."

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Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.