South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar said an agreement with the government to end the seven-month-old conflict should involve a complete restructuring of the world’s newest nation.
Talks scheduled to conclude by Aug. 10 should lead to an agreement on a transitional government that includes pledges to implement a federal system and overhaul the country’s security services, legislature and judiciary, Machar said yesterday in an interview in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. He said rebel forces are prepared for more fighting even as he expects talks to resume and clashes have largely stopped.
“The war is not over,” Machar said. “We prepare ourselves for eventualities. If nothing happens that’s good.”
Fighting erupted in South Sudan in mid-December between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and Machar, his former deputy. Thousands of people have died in the violence and more than a million have fled their homes. In April, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that as many as a million people in the country faced famine unless there was immediate action.
Both government and rebel forces have reported clashes even after Kiir and Machar signed an accord on May 9 committing the two sides to cease hostilities.