South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s decision to increase the number of states in the nation to 28 from 10 contravenes a power-sharing deal signed in August that aimed to end more than 21 months of conflict, said rebel leader Riek Machar.

Kiir announced his decision to devolve more powers to an expanded group of regional administrations on state television on Friday. Machar, who is scheduled to return to his position as Kiir’s top deputy if a transitional government is created in late November, rejected the move.

Riek Machar
Riek Machar
Photographer: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images

The men have been on opposing sides of a conflict that’s killed tens of thousands of people and disrupted oil production, the source of most of the government’s revenue, since December 2013. A peace deal signed by Kiir and Machar in August states that the rival parties agree to devolve power during a 30-month transition and move towards a permanent federal constitutional system.

“The presidential decree is a violation of the peace agreement and is a clear message to the world that President Kiir is not committed to peace,” Machar said in an e-mailed statement on Saturday.

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