Juba (AFP) – War-torn South Sudan’s president will snub a UN meeting aimed at boosting peace efforts because he feels he was summoned there like a “schoolboy”, a minister said Friday.
United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival, rebel leader Riek Machar, to New York later this month in a bid to bolster their struggling peace accord.
Machar has said he will attend the September 29 meeting, but Kiir will only be sending his deputy.
“You cannot just invite a president and give him short notice like a schoolboy to come and attend your meetings,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told reporters.
He also said there may be a problem related to Kiir travelling to the United States.
“Going to America, as you know is a problem, in terms of visa. Yes they can give the president the visa, but they can obstruct the going of others who are accompanying the president, so in order to avoid all this embarrassment, the Vice President James Wani Igga is going to attend,” he added.
Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal last month, but fighting has continued despite a ceasefire that was due to take hold on August 29.
The United States has been pushing for the UN Security Council to impose a travel ban and assets freeze on South Sudan’s army chief Paul Malong and rebel commander Johnson Olony for their role in the continued fighting, although Russia and Angola have blocked the sanctions.
The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan descended into bloodshed in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, then his deputy, of planning a coup.
The violence has left tens of thousands of people dead and the impoverished country split along ethnic lines.