South Sudan’s Kiir says no compromise to end peace deal deadlock

Riek Machar, former vice president and rebel leader, with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, left, in Juba, South Sudan. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 February 2020

South Sudan’s Kiir says no compromise to end peace deal deadlock

  • Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar are under increasing pressure to resolve their differences by February 22 and form a unity government
  • The pair have already missed two previous deadlines to enshrine peace to end a war that has left at least 380,000 people dead

JUBA: South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Friday dismissed international calls for compromise with his foes to break a deadlock that threatens a cease-fire in their six year war.
Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar are under increasing pressure to resolve their differences by February 22 and form a unity government as part of a peace agreement.
The pair have already missed two previous deadlines to enshrine peace to end a war that has left at least 380,000 people dead and millions in dire poverty.
But with a week to go before the clock runs out, Kiir said he would not back down on the key sticking point of the deal — the number of regional states in the young nation.
“This thing cannot work, because we cannot solve problems with another problem,” Kiir said, as he addressed supporters at a rally in the capital Juba.
The number of states is contentious because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.
When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 10 states, as set out in the country’s constitution. Kiir increased that in 2015 to 28, and then later 32.
Critics said redrawing the state boundaries was a divide-and-rule plan to split opposition strongholds and ensure government loyalists dominated.
Kiir argues reducing the states would cause conflict, and dismissed Machar’s proposal to a return to the original 10.
“When Riek Machar said ‘let us return to 10 states,’ I told him, my brother... what will you do with the civil servants in the 32 states?” Kiir said on Friday.
Machar has said he cannot return to his old job as vice president if the status quo on states remains.
Envoys have called on both sides to stick to their cease-fire and to compromise.
“A credible unity government needs to be inclusive... and cannot be formed on the basis of unilateral action,” Britain, the United States and Norway said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
Kiir and Machar are old rivals who have fought and made up multiple times.
“We urge the parties to not allow the peace agreement to collapse just because of dispute on the number of states,” the South Sudan Civil Society Forum said Friday, an umbrella group of over 200 development organizations.


Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

Updated 23 October 2020

Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

  • Trump insists that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un
  • Trump calls India, China air ‘filthy’ as he hits Biden’s stance on climate change

NASHVILLE, USA: Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump for befriending North Korea’s “thug” leader, likening his diplomacy to working with Hitler.
In a sharp clash in their final presidential debate, Biden attacked Trump’s insistence that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un.
“He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said of the young North Korean leader.
“That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe — the rest of Europe. Come on.”
But Biden indicated he was also willing to meet with Kim, saying his condition would be that Pyongyang works to make the Korean peninsula “a nuclear-free zone.”
Trump said that former president Barack Obama had left him “a mess” on North Korea and had warned him of the risk of “nuclear war.”
After the summits, “we have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” said Trump, who also played down North Korea’s recent unveiling of a massive new long-range missile at a military parade.
“He didn’t like Obama,” Trump said of Kim not meeting the former president. “He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.”
Biden, who was vice president under Obama, hit back that Obama would not meet Kim because he was pushing stronger sanctions.
“President Obama said we’re going to talk about denuclearization. We’re not going to legitimize you.”
Trump first met in June 2018 with Kim in Singapore, the first-ever summit between the countries still technically at war, and later said that the two leaders “fell in love.”
The two leaders have met two more times and North Korea has since held off on nuclear and missile tests but analysts say Pyongyang has kept advancing its weapons programs.

Climate change
On climate change, Trump described the air in India and China as “filthy” as he denounced Biden’s plans to tackle the controversial issue.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Biden said that climate change is “an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it.”
“We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years,” he said.
The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.
Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Trump’s remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.
At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.