UN warns South Sudan president to keep to terms of peace agreement | News | DW | 26.07.2016
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UN warns South Sudan president to keep to terms of peace agreement

After South Sudan's president replaced his vice president and rival, the UN has warned that political appointments should be consistent with last year's peace deal. Intense fighting has caused 37,000 people to flee.

Last year's peace agreement states that the vice president must be chosen by the South Sudan Armed Opposition. But President Salva Kiir has sworn in General Taban Deng Gai, a former minister of mining and chief opposition negotiator, who has broken ranks with the previous vice president, Riek Machar. The opposition leader and previous vice president has left the country.

"Any political appointments need to be consistent with the provisions outlined in the peace agreement," UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in New York on Tuesday. "We call on all parties to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained and that any divisions within the opposition or between the parties be dealt with peacefully through dialogue," the UN official said.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but the country descended into civil war in 2013 after Kiir fired Machar as his vice president. But following a UN-sponsored peace agreement last August, Machar was reappointed as part of a national unity government in April, until he went missing earlier this month.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

The verbal dispute between the president and his deputy developed into renewed violence between the armed supporters of the two men earlier this month. Tanks, helicopters and other heavy weapons were used in the dispute over several days.

UN reports 37,000 flee to Uganda

On Tuesday, the UN said more than 37,000 people had fled South Sudan for neighboring Uganda over the last three weeks following the fighting.

"In the past three weeks there have been more refugee arrivals in Uganda than in the entire first six months of 2016," when 33,838 crossed the border, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement. More than 90 percent of the arrivals were women and children, as men were forcibly recruited by armed groups, the UNHCR said.

The UN said the refugee camps in Uganda were being overwhelmed by the number of new arrivals. The UN said 11,000 refugees were at one point staying in a shelter in Elegu, in northern Uganda, which had been designed for 1,000 people.

The UNHCR said that 831,582 South Sudanese were now refugees, sheltering in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.

jm/kl (Reuters, dpa)