South Sudan government orders lawmakers to back peace deal

President-Salva-KiirSouth Sudan’s vice-president called on lawmakers Tuesday to back a faltering peace agreement aimed to end 21 months of civil war, despite heavy fighting with rebels since it was signed.

“We are committed to peace, and we are committed to implement this agreement,” Vice-President James Wani Igga told lawmakers in parliament Tuesday, before leaving for New York for a United Nations meeting to bolster the struggling accord.

The army and rebels have repeatedly traded blame, accusing each other of breaking an internationally-brokered August 29 ceasefire deal, the eighth such agreement to have been signed since civil war broke out in December 2013.

Despite the fighting, both sides say the political deal remains in place.

Facing the threat of international sanctions, President Salva Kiir signed the deal but annexed a list of reservations that he said would have to be addressed for the deal to take hold in the world’s newest nation.

But Igga said the deal would still stand.

“If there is anybody affected by this agreement please stomach it… there are good things in this agreement,” Igga said.

“We are not blind, we are simply saying, ‘this and that is wrong’, but it is not meant to stop the agreement from implementation.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Kiir and his arch-rival, rebel leader Riek Machar, to New York for a September 29 meeting.

“South Sudanese, let this be the last war,” Igga added, who is attending the meeting rather than Kiir, who refused to attend.

South Sudan descended into bloodshed in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, who he had sacked as his deputy six months previously, of planning a coup.

The violence has left tens of thousands of people dead and the impoverished country split along ethnic lines.

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