South Sudan leader Salva Kiir 'to sign peace deal'

South Sudan President Salva Kiir waves at members of his cabinet as he boards a plane in Juba to attend an African Union (AU) summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 25 June 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Kiir has ruled South Sudan since independence in 2011

South Sudan's president has promised to sign a peace deal he had earlier snubbed, the US State Department says.

Salva Kiir told US Secretary of State John Kerry he had decided to sign after "a couple more days of consultation", a State Department spokesman said.

His refusal on Monday to sign the deal to end an 18-month civil war was described as "mind-boggling" by the chief mediator.

The US said the latest developments were "encouraging".

But it has submitted draft proposals for a UN arms embargo on South Sudan.

The UN Security Council blacklisted six generals - three from each side - in July, but member states were at the time unwilling to impose further sanctions.

Fighting between government and rebel forces resumed following Mr Kiir's failure to endorse the deal on Monday.

Nearly two million people have been left homeless since conflict broke out in the world's newest state in 2013.

Fighting erupted in that year after Mr Kiir accused rebel leader Riek Machar, his former deputy, of plotting a coup.

Mr Machar signed the accord in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday - the deadline set by mediators.

South Sudan's elusive peace

  • At least seven ceasefires agreed and broken since conflict started in December 2013
  • Nearly one in five South Sudanese displaced by the current conflict, from a total population of 12 million
  • Former rebel leader Salva Kiir became president of South Sudan, the world's newest state, when it gained independence in 2011
  • South Sudan has been at war for 42 of past 60 years

Five obstacles to peace in South Sudan

Mr Kiir's chief negotiator had said the deal was a sell-out that could not be implemented as the rebels were split.

But Seyoum Mesfin, a negotiator with the regional body Igad, told the BBC that all the government's concerns had been addressed.

He said the UN and African Union would be asked to "take over" if Mr Kiir failed to sign in 15 days.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The conflict has forced people to move into camps

Rebel general James Koang Chuol said his troops had seized the key town of Pageri, near the border with Uganda, after beating back government forces, AFP news agency reports.

Fighting also took place in the Manyo district in oil-producing Upper Nile state, where government troops repulsed a heavy attack by rebels, army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP.

The claims of both sides could not be independently verified.

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