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South Sudan president refuses to resign as demanded by opposition

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (AFP photo)

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has dismissed calls by the country's opposition to step down, saying there is no logic in signing a peace agreement with the opponents and then resign as president.

“They want me to sign the agreement and then step down immediately. Just imagine, what is my incentive in bringing peace if it is peace that I will bring and then I step aside? Nobody can do it,” said Kiir late on Tuesday while addressing a ceremony for a deceased army chief, General James Ajongo Mawut.

Kiir said conditions put forward by 10 opposition groups during talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last month were unreasonable, especially their demand for his resignation.

“The people who are fighting with us have unreasonable conditions to make peace,” Kiir said, adding, “They think that I am the obstacle to peace and if I am removed after signing the agreement then there will be no problem.”

He also said there was no point for him to order the dissolution of South Sudan’s parliament, as demanded by the opposition, saying the legislative body had to continue functioning to be able to endorse any potential peace agreement.

“If we were to sign an agreement, the agreement has to be endorsed by the parliament so that it is passed into law. If the parliament is dissolved then what do we do with the agreement?” he said. “We will not work for such thing,” said Kiir.

The conflict in South Sudan first erupted in 2013, just two years after the independence of the country from Sudan. Tens of thousands have been killed in rounds of fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and those supporting his former vice president, Riek Machar, who is now under house arrest in South Africa.

Estimates by the United Nations refugee agency show that the conflict will leave some 3.1 million people homeless by the end of the year, saying all of those people will seek refuge in neighboring countries.

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