South Sudan rebels urge president to make more concessions as deadline for peace deal nears

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — South Sudan's rebels on Tuesday warned that peace talks with the government could fail if the government does not make concessions, especially on the issue of how to share power in a possible unity government.

South Sudan's warring factions have "disagreed on almost everything" since the resumption last week of the final round of negotiations in Ethiopia, according to Puoch Riek Deng, a spokesman for rebel leader Riek Machar who is attending ongoing talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

He said he hoped President Salva Kiir — who arrived in Ethiopia early Tuesday to attend direct talks with Machar — would make concessions on issues such as power and wealth sharing with the rebels.

He added that the government has rejected the amalgamation of troops formed since the start of the current conflict. Machar's camp also wants South Sudan's government to clear debts accumulated by the rebels since the outbreak of the conflict, he said.

Regional mediators have given the factions up to March 5 to try to reach a conclusive peace deal, even though sporadic violence persists in parts of South Sudan. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which is mediating the talks, said Tuesday that issues yet to be agreed on include the structure of a possible unity government, power ratios, the composition of the national assembly, and transitional security arrangements.

"Difficult compromises must be made by both sides," Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Tuesday after meeting representatives of both sides. "The region is frustrated. The solution is in your hands. Do not throw it away any longer."

Both sides have accused each other of violating multiple agreements that have failed to end the violence which erupted in the world's newest nation in December 2013, and has killed thousands.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution, drafted by the United States, that says an arms embargo is possible if the warring sides can't stick to a peace deal. It does not explicitly name Kiir or Machar as possible targets for sanctions that would include an asset freeze and travel ban.

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