South Sudanese President to Seek New Term as Violence Flares

  • Kiir to run in vote when transitional period ends in 2018
  • Rebels can compete if they renounce violence, spokesman says

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir will seek another term in elections when the transitional government seeking to end the civil war ends in 2018, his spokesman said, as a United Nations adviser warned of ongoing violence in the African country.

Vice president-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar will be allowed to take part in the vote, “so long as he has abandoned rebellion,” as will any other anti-government fighters who renounce violence, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said Wednesday by phone from the capital, Juba.

Kiir, who’s led oil-producing South Sudan since 2011, “is going to compete with anybody who will want to challenge him in free and fair elections,” Ateny said. Under a 2015 peace agreement, elections are to be held 30 months after the forming of a transitional government, which Kiir’s administration dates as having started in April 2016.

Conflict that began in December 2013 has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced 3 million other people to flee their homes. Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role of vice president in the transitional government but was forced out of the city in fighting and later replaced as Kiir’s deputy. The UN has said both fighters loyal to Kiir and those aligned with Machar have committed atrocities

The UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide expressed concern on Tuesday at continuing violence in parts of South Sudan’s Equatoria region, including Kajo-Keji, “where civilians have fled in fear of violence en masse” and access by a peacekeeping mission has reportedly been restricted.

Kiir “has made a commitment to end the violence and bring about peace, yet we still see ongoing clashes, and the risk that mass atrocities will be committed remains ever-present,” adviser Adama Dieng said in an e-mailed statement.

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