“I was threatened by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn that if I do not sign the peace deal right then he will arrest me” – President Salva Kiir
BY MABIOR MACH,
SOUTH Sudan President Salva Kiir has claimed that he and the former vice president turned rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar signed a peace deal Friday in Addis Ababa to avoid threats of arrest by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.
The truce, which has so far been violated, was intended to end five months of deadly violence in which both sides have been accused of widespread human rights abuse.
Mr. Kiir said after a lengthy meeting with Mr. Machar, that Prime Minister Dessalegn came to him to say the problem had become so tough.
“This matter has involved threats. He (PM Dessalegn) told Riek that you are not going ‘if you don’t sign this,” Mr. Kiir said, referring to a proposed peace deal.
“He told me the same in the morning. He told me that ‘if you don’t sign this, I will arrest you here,” Mr. Kiir told a crowd at Juba International airport upon his arrival in the country on Sunday.
“I said ‘if you arrest me in this good place, I am sure I will get good food. So there will be no need to return to Juba. You will feed me for free here,” he said.
He said the PM gave Mr. Machar copies of the proposed peace deal, which he signed.
He said he asked for time to present them to his negotiation team before signing.
Mr. Machar’s spokesman had earlier denied any face-to-face talks between the two principals as earlier demanded by the United States secretary of state John Kerry.
South Sudan descended into chaos after a failed December 15 coup which President Kiir claimed was organized by Mr. Machar.
Mr. Machar denied the claims but quickly mobilized a rebellion.
The war has claimed thousands of lives and more than 1.2 million people forced to flee their homes.
The Kiir-Machar peace deal was the latest attempt to bring an end to the bloodshed.
The deal included humanitarian access corridors and the formation of a transitional government to run the country on an agreed-upon program until the elections.
But two days after the signing, an army spokesman accused rebels of violating the truce. The rebels denied that they first attacked the government positions, but insisted that the army had attacked them on several fronts.