S. Sudan president, rebel leader trade blame for fighting

AP News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2015 2:38 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — South Sudan's president and rebel leader on Tuesday blamed each other for breaking the country's cease-fire, although President Salva Kiir told a high-level U.N. meeting that his commitment to the peace deal is "unwavering."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Kiir to uphold his promise: "I hope you will not betray and disappoint us."

Kiir addressed the U.N. meeting via videoconference after annoying the international community last year by skipping a similar meeting.

Rebel leader Riek Machar attended in person as diplomats from several countries urged both sides to calm a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced 2 million.

Kiir said he will respect the peace deal: "I know there are people who doubt my commitment ... I will prove the doubting Thomases wrong."

He said his government has made "considerable progress" in implementing the agreement, which he signed with reservations and under pressure from the United States late last month.

Rebel leader Machar called on Kiir to remove his reservations. "Apparently, signing the peace agreement was the easier part of the peace process," he joked.

The rebel leader also joined Ban in expressing gratitude to the African Union for making public its report on abuses committed by both sides in South Sudan's conflict and for approving the establishment of an independent judicial court for South Sudan.

Machar also called for the withdrawal from South Sudan of troops from both Uganda and Sudan — shortly after a Ugandan military official told The Associated Press that Ugandan troops will stay there until Kiir's government asks them to leave.

"For now, there are no troop movements," Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said. This violates the peace deal, which states that all foreign troops must leave the country.

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Muhumuza contributed to this story from Kampala, Uganda.