South Sudan rebels urge president to respect pact

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 27, 2015 at 10:42 a.m.

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JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — A spokesman for South Sudan rebels said Thursday the president's reservations about a peace deal he signed a day earlier signal "a lack of commitment" to peace, and a fighting reportedly broke out along the Nile River.

The agreement between the government and rebels gives the sides 72 hours from signing to implement a ceasefire.

John Tap Puot, a rebel-appointed local leader, said Thursday that three barges moving along the Nile River opened fire with artillery on Taiyar port. He said the rebels fired back. He did not know if there were casualties.

South Sudanese military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer confirmed three armed barges recently left the capital, Juba, and were heading north to resupply troops. He said he had not received information about a clash.

James Gatdet Dak, a spokesman for opposition leader leader Riek Machar, said Thursday that while Machar is happy that Kiir signed the compromise agreement, the long list of reservations cited by Kiir is worrisome.

"(Machar) thinks these are unnecessary and he says these were discussed during the mediation," Dak told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.

The peace pact calls for a transitional government to be established within 90 days. Machar is expected to return to Juba as Kiir's deputy. Machar used to be the vice president until he and Kiir had a falling out and a conflict erupted in December 2013 along ethnic lines.

Kiir, who signed under threat of U.N. sanctions after declining to do so alongside Machar last week, said he has concerns about provisions for sharing power and the demilitarization of Juba.

In Sudan, the Ruling National Congress party said the agreement would help bring stability to Sudan and South Sudan.


Associated Press writer Mohamed Osman contributed to this report from Khartoum

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