South Sudan strongly opposes “sell-out” peace deal as US threatens to ramp up pressure on gov’t

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar signing the peace accord in Addis Ababa, Monday 17

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar signing the peace accord in Addis Ababa, Monday 17

A day after refusing to sign the peace deal that would have ended the conflict in South Sudan, the government is labeling the accord that was signed by rebel leader Riek Machar Monday, a “sell-out”.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir initialed but did not sign the “compromise document” requesting 15 more days for consultations before he actually signs.

Reports from the capital Juba however, indicate that Salva Kiir might not sign the deal in its present form even within the additional 15 days he requested.

The president’s spokesman and the country’s Information Minister said Tuesday “we strongly believe that (the deal) cannot serve the people of South Sudan. It is a sell-out and we will not accept that.”

The Kiir government is vehemently opposed to some provisions in the agreement that compel it to consult with Machar on his potential role in the new government, and possible demilitarization of the capital Juba.

Also this Tuesday Riek Machar, who supports, and signed the deal Monday, claims government forces have shelled rebel positions in the town of Pageri but the Kiir government says it’s the rebel forces triggered the fighting.

Meanwhile, the United States has expressed regret that the South Sudanese leader failed to sign the agreement that is supported by the opposition, most regional stakeholders and international partners.

The US urges Juba authorities to rethink their objections to the accord and sign it within the next two weeks as they request.

The US government also has signaled it will work in concert regional and international partners to increase the pressure on government to make sure it signs the deal.

“We welcome the signing of the peace agreement by the opposition leader Riek Machar and other parties and stakeholders. The United States deeply regrets that the Government of South Sudan chose not to sign an agreement that was supported by all of the states in the IGAD, plus the troika – the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway – China, the African Union, and the United Nations today. We call on the government to sign the agreement within the 15-day period it requested for consultations.” John Kirby Spokesperson for the US State Department said in a statement Monday.

Kirby added “we’re going to work with our regional and international partners on next steps and on ways to increase pressure, especially against those that are undermining the peace process or opposing this agreement.”

A number of regional leaders and international delegates were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hoping the warring parties would finally put their “egos” aside and sign the “compromise document” to end the 20 month conflict that has displaced more than 2 million people.

US and partners have threatened to sanction South Sudan leaders if they don’t sign the peace accord.

Several peace accords have been signed and breached since this conflict began in 2013.