Juba (AFP) - Hopes of an end to South Sudan's 15-month old civil war were dealt another blow on Wednesday as President Salva Kiir ruled out a proposed power-sharing deal with rebels.
Speaking at a political rally in the capital Juba, Kiir rejected key elements of the latest draft deal between him and rebel leader Riek Machar, and accused foreign powers of undermining peace with talk of sanctions.
"I don't agree with the suggestion that Riek be given the position of vice president," Kiir said, rejecting the key proposal put forward during talks brokered by east Africa regional bloc IGAD and hosted in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"I don't accept the issue of the two armies," Kiir added, referring to another section of a proposed agreement that envisages a separation of forces during a transitional period.
War broke out in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, his former deputy, of planning a coup. Since then tens of thousands have died, two million have been uprooted and four million face starvation.
Peace talks held in Ethiopia have resulted in a string of broken ceasefires. The last round of talks collapsed on March 7.
The threat of sanctions has been raised by the international community, frustrated with the continued conflict and its escalating humantarian cost. Earlier this month the UN Security Council passed a US-drafted resolution creating a sanctions regime for South Sudan, although none have yet been imposed.
Kiir said any sanctions would be counterproductive.
"I am disappointed by some members of the international community (who seek) to impose sanctions on South Sudan rather than encouraging peace building," he said.
Addressing a crowd of thousands of the party faithful, as well as foreign diplomats, Kiir said that the months of war were "challenges of transition" that would be overcome. "I don't want anybody to be discouraged because of the situation we have experienced," he said.
Despite rejecting fundamental elements of the draft IGAD deal, Kiir insisted he was seeking peace.
"I want to confirm my government's commitment to end the war in South Sudan," he said, adding that "national dialogue, forgiveness, reconciliation and building consensus" held the answer.