President Kiir seeks support for peace in South Sudan

Salva KiirPresident Salva Kiir on Wednesday asked South Sudan’s lawmakers to back a peace deal aimed at ending two years of civil war and called for continued international support.

“I am ready to implement the agreement in letter and spirit,” Kiir told members of the National Legislature in the capital Juba, asking them to “cooperate and join hands with me” in ending the war.

“We must stop more bloodshed and destruction in our country,” Kiir said.

South Sudan’s latest civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, of planning a coup. The fighting quickly spread beyond the capital and has been characterised by ethnic attacks, massacres of civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, rape and other war crimes.

The conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis with 2.3 million people forced from their homes and 4.6 million in need of emergency food. Tens of thousands have died and the economy has all but collapsed.

Kiir traced South Sudan’s economic woes to 2012 when the oil dependent nation’s export pipeline was shutdown during a conflict with Sudan over a disputed oil field. Oil production restarted but fell again when the new war started two years ago. “All these were followed by the fall in the international prices of crude oil,” said Kiir.

He also blamed black market money traders and the “foreign hands” of international charities for undermining the local currency.

Kiir said much needed to be done to rebuild the country adding that, “all these programmes need money.” He requested, “support from our development partners and friends in order to achieve the smooth implementation of the peace agreement.”

The president also listed a series of attacks he said rebel forces had carried out in recent days. “As I speak the rebels are still planning more attacks,” he said.

The speech was similar to a video call Kiir made to the United Nations General Assembly in late September, when he pledged his support for the peace deal while blaming his rival for starting the war and accusing rebels of continuing bad faith and attacks.

Despite the accusations Kiir said the first rebel delegation would arrive in Juba “in the next few days”, a key step in making the peace deal signed in August a reality on the ground.

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