South Sudan government says won’t enter talks with Machar

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The South Sudanese government on Friday ruled out renegotiation of a 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 for February in Doha, Qatar.

“It has not been communicated to the government yet. It (peace talks) will absolutely be nonsensical, the peace agreement cannot be renegotiated with Machar, unless on something else,” Xinhua reports Ateny to say from Juba.

“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 added.

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.

South Sudan has been riddled by a civil war that erupted in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his then deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against his government. Machar denied the accusations but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 has continually been violated by both sides.

The war has killed tens of thousands and displaced over two million people, with about 4.6 million others left severely food insecure since December 2013.

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