S Sudan president signs peace deal

South Sudan president Salva Kiir signs UN brokered peace deal to end 20-month conflict

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

South Sudan's president signed a peace deal on Wednesday to end a 20-month conflict with rebels, but he told regional African leaders at the ceremony that he had "serious reservations".

President Salva Kiir, who has led South Sudan since it seceded from Sudan in 2011, had asked for more time for consultations last week, drawing threats of U.N. sanctions if he failed to ink it within a two-week deadline.

"With all those reservations that we have, we will sign this document," he told African leaders who had gathered in Juba for the ceremony, speaking shortly before he signed.

His long-time rival and rebel leader Riek Machar, who is expected to become the First Vice President under the deal, put his pen to the document last week in the Ethiopian capital.

The conflict erupted in December 2013 after a power struggle between between Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and Kiir, from the dominant Dinka group. Fighting has increasingly followed ethnic lines.

Thousands of people have been killed, many of the 11 million population have been driven to the brink of starvation and 2 million people have fled their homes, often to neighbouring states. It has unsettled an already volatile region.