South Sudan president Salva Kiir and his former deputy and current rebel leader, Riek Machar, agreed on Friday to stop fighting and to allow humanitarian access to the affected civilians.
The signatories “Agree to immediately cease all hostile activities with twenty for(24) hours of the signing of this agreement, thus re-dedicating ourselves to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 23 January 2014; and further agree to facilitate the full deployment of IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism(MVM),” provides the agreement signed on Friday evening.
In line with the signed guideline document, the parties also agreed to open humanitarian corridors, and “to cooperate, unconditionally, with the UN and humanitarian agencies to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches affected populations in all areas of South Sudan”.
The two leaders further agreed to form a transitional government of national unity and to include all South Sudanese stakeholders in the peace process and the negotiation of an interim government to “ensure broad ownership of the agreed outcomes.
The “stakeholders include: the two direct negotiators (the GRSS and the SPLM/A in Opposition), and others such as the SPLM leaders (former detainees), political parties, civil society, and faith-based leaders”.
Speaking following the signing ceremony president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar expressed their willingness to implement the agreement and end hostilities.
The two leaders who pried together before the signing were congratulated by the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who had held spate discussions with both of them to discuss the draft agreement.
Before the signing of the “Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South Sudan”, Machar arrived in Addis Ababa late on Thursday, while President Kiir arrived on Friday where he was received by Ethiopian foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, upon arrival at Bole international Airport.
The two sides have held separate consultative meetings on Friday with Ethiopian Prime minister, Desalegn, prior to the face-to-face meeting brokered by the regional bloc, Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The direct talks scheduled for Friday started Friday late, after consultative meetings between the Ethiopian premier and the two rival cantered on how to end the violence and discuss future transitional governance.
Ongoing peace negotiations between the two sides didn’t bring any political solution to the four -month conflict when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of staging a coup, an accusation the latter denies.
The deal signed by Kiir and Machar aims to speed up national reconciliation and to bring an immediate end to over four month old running bloody conflict in the world’s youngest nation.
The signed deal ensures the inclusion of the group of the SPLM leaders who had been in jail over charges of fomenting a coup d’état against the government of president Salva Kiir. Initially Juba had been opposed to their involvement saying talks should be only with the rebels.
On Friday, Machar met with Pagan Amum, former secretary general of the ruling party (SPLM) along with three other colleagues including Oyai Deng Ajak, Majak Agoot and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.
The contact was the first face-to-face meeting since December 2013 when the former detainees and Machar were separated by the violence incidence.
Government and rebel negotiators signed a shaky cease fire agreement on 23 January but failed to implement it, and instead continue to trade accusation on violating to terms of the deal.
The fighting which quickly divided the country’s army along ethnic lines with Kiir’s Dinka tribe fighting against Machar’s Nuer has left tens of thousands of people killed and displaced more than 1.3 million people.
The UN has accused both rival groups of committing crimes against humanity including mass killings and gang rapes. [Sudan Tribune]