South Sudan on Friday ruled out renegotiation of peace deal with the now exiled rebel leader Riek Machar, after media reports emerged that peace guarantors (Troika) countries were allegedly planning to bring back the warring factions on the negotiation table.
President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny denied any knowledge of the planned talks by Norway and Britain scheduled in February in Doha, Qatar.
“It has not been communicated to the government yet. It (peace talks) will absolutely be nonsensical, the peace agreement can not be renegotiated with Machar, unless on something else,” Ateny told Xinhua in Juba.
The East African, a weekly journal, reported Tuesday that the two countries, which are among the key sponsors of the peace deal signed in 2015 between President Kiir and Machar’s SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO), were seeking a review of the agreement in a bid to bring back Machar.
“Any further agreement with Machar will fail completely, we have no interest of renegotiating the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS),” he said.
Machar, who is now in South Africa, fled Juba in the aftermath of renewed July clash between his troops and soldiers loyal to President Kiir.
He has since been replaced as first vice president by his former chief negotiator Taban Deng Gai who now leads a splinter faction of the SPLA-IO in the transitional unity government formed last April.
“If the Troika are willing (for negotiations) then it should not be the review of the ARCISS, but may be something else,” Ateny added.
The government spokesman added that President Kiir and Deng were already implementing the peace agreement without the need for Machar.
“The agreement is already being implemented by President Kiir and SPLA-IO led by Deng. Machar is out of the equation completely here,” Ateny said.
South Sudan has been shattered by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated by fresh violence in July, 2016.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure, since December 2013.