South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Sunday arrived in Ethiopia for peace talks aimed at brokering an end to civil war, reversing an earlier decision as international threats of possible sanctions mount.
However Kiir, who said he had been “compelled” to join the talks alongside rebel leaders and regional presidents, warned it would not be possible to sign a lasting or full peace deal until all opposition factions could join the agreement.
“A peace that cannot be sustained cannot be signed,” Kiir said, before leaving Juba.
“You should sign something that you will enjoy. If it is signed today and then tomorrow we go back to war, then what have we achieved?” he added.
South Sudan’s government and rebels were under intense diplomatic pressure to sign a deal by a yesterday deadline to end a 20-month civil war, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.
Kiir’s archrival, rebel chief and former South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar, has not appeared publicly in Addis Ababa, but multiple sources said he had been in the Ethiopian capital for several days.
Kiir previously said he would send his deputy after complaining it was not possible to strike an effective deal, because rebel forces have split.
However, on Sunday he decided to go himself after consultations with regional leaders, who have already arrived in Addis Ababa for the summit meeting yesterday.
On Sunday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has sent troops into South Sudan to back Kiir, held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Tuesday last week, rebel generals said they had split from Machar. The latest round of talks began on Aug. 6, mediated by regional eight-nation bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, as well as the UN, African Union, China and the “troika” of Britain, Norway and the US.
Diplomats have warned that any failure to sign a peace deal could trigger “serious consequences,” but South Sudanese Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries Elia Lomuro said such threats were not helpful.
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