UN says South Sudan lukewarm about new peace push

Dr Riek Machar. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

South Sudan's government has shown little interest in a new regional peace initiative that the US has described as a final chance to end the war, the UN peacekeeping chief said Tuesday.

The UN Security Council has thrown its weight behind the drive by the regional Igad group to kick-start the peace process through its "revitalisation forum" of a 2015 deal that has failed to take hold.

"With regard to the revitalisation forum announced by Igad, the government has only given a lukewarm response," Mr Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping, told the Security Council.

Led by Ethiopia, Foreign ministers of the seven-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) met with President Salva Kiir this month and exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in South Africa.

Killed thousands

President Kiir "reportedly committed to support the forum while asking a series of clarifications on its objectives that Igad agreed to address in writing," said Mr Lacroix.

Dr Machar and other opposition leaders have "declared cautious support to the process," he added.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley is expected to travel to South Sudan this month to press for progress in ending the war that has killed thousands and driven nearly four million people from their homes.

The US is South Sudan's biggest aid provider and a key supporter of its 2011 independence from Sudan.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when President Kiir accused Dr Machar, his former deputy, of plotting a coup.

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