Peace Plans in Doubt as South Sudan Rebels Refuse New Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Plans to end an almost five-year civil war in South Sudan that’s claimed tens of thousands of lives were thrown into doubt after the country’s main rebel group refused to sign a final accord.

While President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar earlier this month signed a pact that included handing key government jobs to the insurgents, Machar’s representatives on Tuesday initially declined to back an agreement concluding months of talks.

Another opposition coalition also rebuffed the deal, Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed told reporters in the capital, Khartoum, where the negotiations were held. His ministry said later in a statement that Sudan’s government has convinced Machar to sign the deal on Thursday.

Peace is long awaited in South Sudan, which has been hit by an economic crisis caused by a decline in oil income. More than 4 million people have fled their homes, fueling Africa’s biggest refugee crisis, while both government forces and rebels have been accused of atrocities.

The rebels have reservations on issues including the number of regional states specified and the constitution-writing mechanism, minister Ahmed said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.