News / Africa

South Sudan Ceasefire Agreement Signed

Nhial Deng Nhial, 2nd left, the head of South Sudan's negotiating team, and top negotiator for the rebel's side, Taban Deng Gai, right, a general in South Sudan's army before he defected, sign a cessation of hostilities agreement on Jan. 23, 2014.
Nhial Deng Nhial, 2nd left, the head of South Sudan's negotiating team, and top negotiator for the rebel's side, Taban Deng Gai, right, a general in South Sudan's army before he defected, sign a cessation of hostilities agreement on Jan. 23, 2014.
Marthe van der Wolf
Negotiators for the South Sudan government and opposition forces signed two agreements Thursday to end nearly six weeks of conflict that have claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than half a million.

The agreements, which were signed in the Ethiopian capital, call for military action to cease immediately and for the release of 11 political leaders who were jailed when the conflict began on Dec. 15 to be expedited to allow them to play a key role in the young country's reconciliation process.

The agreements came after weeks of talks brokered by the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

One of the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement, which is set to take effect 24 hours after the signing ceremony, is that all forces and armed groups "invited by either side" be redeployed or "progressively withdrawn" from the "theater of operations."

Uganda sent troops to fight alongside the South Sudanese army during the conflict, which was touched off in mid-December by a gunbattle at army headquarters in Juba, the capital. President Salva Kiir said the Dec. 15 clashes were an attempted coup, led by his former vice president Riek Machar, who has denied the accusation.

The ceasefire agreement also calls for an end to "hostile propaganda" and attacks against civilians, and for pro- and anti-government forces to refrain from acts of violence including rape, torture, summary executions, mass displacements and the use of child soldiers.

Both sides have been accused of committing gross human rights violations.

Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people who fled their homes are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people who fled their homes are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
x
Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people who fled their homes are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people who fled their homes are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Humanitarian corridors must be opened, and the hundreds of thousands who fled their homes must be given assistance to return to them, the agreement says. It also calls for South Sudanese leaders to facilitate the reunion of families separated during the fighting.

A team will be set up to monitor the ceasefire agreement and ensure that its terms are abided by. Called the Monitoring and Verification Team, it will report to IGAD.

The lead IGAD mediator at the peace negotiations, Ethiopian diplomat Seyoum Mesfin, urged the two sides to keep the momentum of the signing of the accords going and take steps to ensure that peace and reconciliation take root in South Sudan.

Both sides must “...implement any agreements that they signed, in good faith and with full commitment," he said.

They must also "begin to work towards rehabilitation and support the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and refugees," and "continue with political dialogue and work towards an all-inclusive national reconciliation," he said.

The pacts were signed for the government by Nhial Deng Nhial and Taban Deng Gai for the opposition.

The two sides had little to say to each other during the signing ceremony, which got under way several hours after it was supposed to.

But lead government negotiator Nhial expressed concern about whether the opposition would be able to get its fighters to respect the terms of the ceasefire.

"Given that the bulk of the rebel army is made up of civilians who are not subject to military discipline, orders to stop fighting may not be obeyed," Nhial said.

"This will certainly make a mockery of the agreement.  We therefore urge IGAD and the broader international community to pay special attention to this problem," said Nhial.

Lead opposition negotiator Taban Deng Gai said the opposition did not initiate the violence.

Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.
x
Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.
Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.
“Our core goal has always been reforms, democratization of the political process within the SPLM party and peaceful transfer of power," said Gai.
        
Fighting in South Sudan broke out in mid-December between backers of President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar.

The next phase of the peace process between the South Sudanese government and the opposition is expected to start on February 7 and should include the participation of the 11 detainees.


U.S., U.N. hail ceasefire deal


U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the cessation of hostility agreement, calling it "a critical first step toward building a lasting peace" in South Sudan, and called on the young country's leaders to build on the momentum of the signing of the peace deal, and "fully and immediately implement the agreement and start an inclusive political dialogue to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict."

"The full participation of political detainees currently being held by the Government of South Sudan will be critical to those discussions, and we will continue to work to expedite their release," Obama said in a statement.

The U.S. president also called for those who are found to have committed atrocities during nearly six weeks of unrest in the country to be held accountable and vowed that the United States will remain a "steady partner" to "those working for a more peaceful, democratic, unified South Sudan."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the agreement "a critical first step toward building a lasting peace in South Sudan," but added that it was "only the beginning of a much longer process to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict, to foster reconciliation, and to hold accountable those who committed horrific abuses against the South Sudanese people."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement and urged the two sides in the conflict to keep the momentum going with a "national political dialogue to reach a comprehensive peace agreement, with the participation of all South Sudanese political and civil society representatives, including the SPLM detainees."

In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at the UNMISS compound in Bor, capital of Jonglei state, in South Sudan.In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at the UNMISS compound in Bor, capital of Jonglei state, in South Sudan.
x
In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at the UNMISS compound in Bor, capital of Jonglei state, in South Sudan.
In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at the UNMISS compound in Bor, capital of Jonglei state, in South Sudan.
The United Nations has provided shelter on its bases and in its compounds for some 70,000 people who fled towns and villages wracked by fighting in South Sudan. More than half a million people have been forced from their homes, including more than 100,000 people who have fled to neighboring countries including Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Although no death toll has been established for the violence in South Sudan, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, said after a visit there last week that "many thousands" have died. 


 

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: pastis from: nigeria
January 24, 2014 5:46 PM
Greedy politicians under the guise of democratic reforms have seen to the death of innocent citizens who care less of the resources and riches that has blinded the political class. As much as it doesn't surprise me, it is a shame that African leaders including the people have no value for life!


by: chima from: Lagos
January 24, 2014 5:08 AM
It is a shame that SS politicians are divided once again along tribal lines to suffocate and malign democratic norms all in the effort to amass wealth and power. The present govt must make way for another via elections as quickly as possible. African politicians must begin to value human lives and stop wasting it Enough is enough.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid