UN chief to South Sudan: Respecting peace deal not an option

By CHARLTON DOKI - Associated Press ,

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, left, speaking to the press in Juba, South Sudan flanked by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, left, speaking to the press in Juba, South Sudan flanked by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin. (Photo: AP)

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders of South Sudan on Thursday to respect the terms of a peace agreement that ended two years of civil war last year.

The U.N. chief also said a global aid appeal for conflict-torn South Sudan is just 3 percent funded, and the world body is releasing $21 million in emergency money to help. Ban spoke after talks with South Sudan's president and rebel leader.

He appealed to them to put peace above politics and establish a transitional government of national unity, saying the government must step up to its responsibilities to protect the population, which has suffered violence, mass displacements and hunger.

"Respecting the terms of the peace agreement is not an option, it is a must," Ban said.

South Sudan was plunged into civil war two years ago after a falling out between President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar sparked a political crisis that then boiled over into a violent rebellion. Tens of thousands have died and at least two million people have been displaced from their homes.

Some of the fighting was along ethnic lines, and both sides have been accused of carrying out serious human rights abuses. Though the peace agreement was signed in August, there is still some sporadic fighting.

Kiir this month re-appointed Machar as vice president, but Machar has yet to return to South Sudan, citing security concerns.

Ban called on Kiir and Machar to "rebuild mutual trust" and turn attention to the country's humanitarian and economic crisis and "massive human rights violations."

South Sudan's Foreign Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said Kiir assured Ban of his commitment to implement the peace agreement.

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