South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has ordered his troops to cease hostilities ahead of a ceasefire that will take effect on Saturday.
The ceasefire was announced on national television late Thursday - 24 hours after Mr. Kiir added his signature to a peace deal that was hammered out by international mediators after 19 months of negotiations.
“The president issued a presidential order yesterday in which he declared a permanent ceasefire and gave orders to the chief of general staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to cease all hostilities and to stop all forces from making offensives against the rebels,” Mr. Kiir's spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said.
Ateny said the ceasefire will allow humanitarian corridors to reopen and aid workers to once again bring help to people in need. But first, he said, Riek Machar's rebel group must also declare and abide by a ceasefire.
Dickson Gatluak, a spokesman for Machar's SPLM-in-Opposition, said Machar is expected to declare a ceasefire "as soon as possible." He said rebel forces loyal to Machar are already under order not to instigate any new fighting.
The US Ambassador to South Sudan, Mary Catherine Phee, said the United States and its partners in the troika, the United Kingdom and Norway, along with the European Union fully support Mr. Kiir's ceasefire declaration.
Phee warned that the international community will take action against "those who return to arms”