East African leaders will gather in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, on Wednesday to discuss President Salva Kiir’s standpoint on a proposed peace deal, the country’s Foreign Ministry said.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Sudanese leader Umar al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will attend the meeting, spokesman Mawien Makol Arik said by phone Tuesday from the city. The leaders will “consult on the peace process and the position of the government,” he said.
Kiir on Aug. 17 refused to sign an accord with rebel leader Riek Machar to end fighting that erupted almost two years ago in the oil-producing nation, saying he needed more time for consultations.
The U.S. has proposed imposing an United Nations arms embargo and individual sanctions if Kiir doesn’t meet a Sept. 1 deadline to agree to end the violence, which has killed tens of thousands of people. The United Nations Security Council is ready to take immediate action if the peace deal isn’t signed, Nigerian Ambassador to the UN Joy Ogwu told reporters in New York on Tuesday.
Agence France-Presse reported earlier on Tuesday that Kiir plans to sign the agreement on Wednesday.
The government has cited differences in opinion over the structure of the army, demilitarization and governance in the crude-rich Upper Nile state as the reasons it opposed the deal.
“The position of the government is clear, that the president did not sign the peace process in Addis Ababa and if there are any changes, then we will see as we go along,” Arik said.
The clashes have continued in the oil-producing nation despite several previous cease-fires. Medecins Sans Frontieres said Tuesday that two of its local aid workers were killed last week in separate attacks. A logistical worker and community health worker died during raids on villages in Unity state, the international medical charity said in an e-mailed statement.