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South Sudan Signs Peace Deal with Yau Yau Rebels

  • John Tanza

South Sudan rebel leader David Yau Yau, shown here in Jonglei state.

South Sudan rebel leader David Yau Yau, shown here in Jonglei state.

The government of South Sudan has signed a peace deal in Addis Ababa to end one of the longest running rebellions in the country, the insurgency in Jonglei state led by David Yau Yau.

"This agreement should end the rebellion of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army-Cobra faction (SSDM/A-Cobra faction)" headed by Yau Yau, Dutch peace organization PAX, which facilitated months of talks between the government and rebels, said in a statement.

The peace deal comes as South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar were due to meet in Addis Ababa for talks to end five months of fighting in South Sudan that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than a million people.

Nico Plooijer, director of the South Sudan program at PAX, said the key feature of the agreement between Yau Yau and Juba is the establishment of "a so-called Greater Pibor administrative area... that will give some form of self-rule to the area."

Pibor in Jonglei state has been the epicenter of Yau Yau's rebellion for the past few years.

It is expected that Yau Yau will head the administrative area, which would oversee development in Pibor.

Plooijer said if the agreement is implemented, it could mark the end of the on-again, off-again rebellion led by Yau Yau, which the former theology student first launched in 2010 after he failed to win a seat in the state parliament.

In 2011 Yau Yau accepted an offer of amnesty from Kiir and returned to Juba where he was promoted to the rank of general in the South Sudanese army.

But a year later, he resumed his rebellion against Juba, and his forces were accused of carrying out numerous deadly raids in Jonglei state.

In an interview last year with South Sudan in Focus, Yau Yau said he was fighting for a separate state for ethnic minorities who are deprived of their rights in South Sudan, and dismissed as "a joke" an offer from the government in Juba to hold peace talks.

But weeks later, Yau Yau engaged in negotiations with leaders of his Murle ethnic group, and then with church leaders appointed by Kiir. In January of this year, the two sides signed a ceasefire agreement.

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