South Sudan rivals haggle over deal, peace talks delayed

Addis Ababa (AFP) - Talks to end the conflict in South Sudan were postponed on Saturday as President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar continued to argue over the details of a power-sharing deal proposed by regional mediators.

Officials said the talks, mediated by the eight-country East African bloc IGAD and held on the fringes of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, would be postponed until Sunday morning.

Kiir and Machar have held a series of face-to-face meetings since Wednesday but have so far failed to agree on the details of a proposal intended to end more than 13-months of civil war in South Sudan that has left tens of thousands dead.

Mediators had been hoping to secure a deal during the AU summit, which ends later Saturday.

The IGAD plan would leave Kiir as president and return Machar to his former position as Kiir's deputy in a transitional government of national unity, according to a draft agreement seen by AFP.

Under the proposal, a three-month "pre-transition" is due to begin by April 1, with the transitional government taking office for a 30-month term beginning on July 9.

The two leaders have signed –- and then broken –- at least six previous ceasefire agreements since fighting began in December 2013.

South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, and won independence from Khartoum in 2011.