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Stop the war and prepare for 2018 polls, Sudan President urges citizens

Tuesday February 7 2017

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (left),

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (left), flanked by African Union special envoy and former Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare, talks to the media on July 14, 2016 at the presidential palace in Juba. PHOTO | SAMIR BOL | AFP  

JOSEPH ODUHA
By JOSEPH ODUHA
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JUBA

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has announced that he will seek new term in next year's election.

The president, who made the announcement in Yei River State on Tuesday, disclosed that South Sudan would go to the poll after the end of the current interim period.

President Kiir, who challenged his opponents, including rebel leader Riek Machar, to prepare for the elections, called upon armed groups to stop the war and return home to participate in democratic exercises.

“We must stop war now and get prepared for 2018 elections in time,” President Kiir said on Tuesday.

Kiir has had a tumultuous reign stretching over 10 years, after taking over power in 2005 following the death of Dr John Garang.

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He was elected president in July 2011 after South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Sudan.

A major fallout between Kiir and his deputy, Dr Machar, first occurred in 2013, sparking war that almost turned into an ethnic conflict between the Dinka and Nuer communities.

President Kiir is a Dinka while Dr Machar belongs to the Nuer community.

The president had accused Dr Machar and his 10 affiliates of attempting a coup d'état.

Dr Machar denied the allegations and fled, calling for President Kiir to resign.

Months of negotiations under the regional Igad bloc, saw the two protagonists sign a peace agreement in late August 2015.

The deal saw Dr Machar resume his number two position, only for the two to fallout again in July 2016, opening another round of conflict.