South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said in a speech on Sunday that he will not allow leading opposition members, including former vice president Riek Machar, to hold top roles in a transitional government.
“My current vice president, James Wani Igga, will remain the first vice president and I will make Riek my second vice president if he wants to be in my government," Mr. Kiir said on his return from the U.S.-Africa Leaders summit in Washington.
"But if he doesn’t want, he must stay out and wait for elections. If he defeats me he can become the president and everybody agrees with me. To say that he becomes the prime minister will mean that we will be violating the provisions of the constitution,” he said.
South Sudan is due to hold elections next year. The country's constitution does not provide for a prime minister or for a second vice president.
Mr. Kiir and Machar agreed in June to form a transitional government within 60 days, but the two sides did not meet during the month of July and the deadline for setting up the interim government has passed.
The two sides have also made little progress in reaching an end to fighting that broke out in December and has killed more than 10,000 people and forced more than 1.5 million people from their homes.
Humanitarian organizations have warned that about four million people are food insecure in South Sudan because of fighting that has prevented farmers from planting crops. Aid agencies have also warned that parts of South Sudan are on the brink of a preventable famine.
Kiir says Machar blocking peace
Mr. Kiir said he does not want war but says he is being let down by his former deputy.
“The problem regarding peace is like saying you want to clap using one hand, but one hand cannot clap. In order to produce sound, two hands must be used,” Mr. Kiir said.
Mr. Kiir said opposition forces violated the January 23 ceasefire agreement with an attack on Sunday in Nasir, in Upper Nile state.
"Thirty-seven of Machar’s men were killed. All these are our people that Machar is playing with instead of accepting peace. My message to all of you who are fighting is that you should stop fighting and accept peace,” Mr. Kiir said.
The fighting in Nasir broke out just days after the warring sides resumed talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to resolve the conflict and form an interim government.