Over the weekend, the South Sudan government signed an agreement with the rebels its been fighting for the better part of five months in a bid to finally bring the young country out of the civil war that has slipped below international headlines for months. Less than forty-eight hours later, the deal is in its death throes, leaving hundreds of thousands of displaced South Sudanese unsure of what’s next.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
South Sudan president Silva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar on Friday signed an agreement that was intended to break the stalemate and end the crisis that has caused thousands to flee their homes in the face of the fighting. Under the watch of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development, a collection of African states that has been leading the talks between the two, both sides agreed that there was no military solution for South Sudan, ordered a new ceasefire between forces, and that a transitional unity government will be formed to usher in reconciliation between the sides.
Upon returning to South Sudan on Sunday, however, Kiir immediately denounced the deal, claiming that he was coerced into signing it through threats from the Ethiopian prime minister. “[Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Dessalegn] told me that ‘if you don’t sign this, I will arrest you here’,” Kiir said before a crowd at Juba International Airport. “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.’” Kiir claimed that the same threat was made against Machar, also announcing at the same airport visit that South Sudan’s next presidential elections will be postponed from 2015 to 2017 at the earliest.
Ethiopian Government Spokesperson denied the claim saying “We don’t pose threat on countries head”