News / Africa

South Sudan ‘Committed’ to Peace after Ceasefire Agreement

South Sudan peace negotiators meet in a night club in Addis Ababa on Jan. 13, 2014.
South Sudan peace negotiators meet in a night club in Addis Ababa on Jan. 13, 2014.
Peter Clottey
The ceasefire agreement between South Sudan’s warring factions signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is a strong indication that President Salva Kiir and his government in Juba is committed to peace negotiations to resolve the country’s conflict, says Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s foreign minister.

Benjamin says the signing of the ceasefire agreement shows commitment that the government in Juba has embraced regional efforts to stop the violence and ensure peace in South Sudan.

He also says Mr. Kiir will keep his promise to pardon former vice president Riek Machar if his former deputy renounces violence.

“That is an offer and that is exactly the nature of our president. He has been actually pardoning and giving amnesty to all those militias who did a lot of damage to our country, so why not his former vice president who has been his vice president for eight years?” asked Benjamin. “He is willing to forgive as long as he stops this damage that Dr. Riek Machar is doing in terms of stopping the fighting.”

Representatives of South Sudan’s government and allies of former vice president Riek Machar signed a ceasefire agreement late Thursday night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, following weeks of regional and international pressure to do so.

Benjamin says the agreement shows the government’s willingness to end the conflict through dialogue. The negotiations were brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body.

“It sends a very strong signal that the government is committed to honoring the role that IGAD countries are playing in trying to resolve this crisis peacefully,” said Benjamin. “The government which has been saying that there must be peace in our country and that we can resolve our disputes through dialogue. So, it is a commitment of cessation of hostilities, [and] this is important because it will stop the suffering of our citizens.”

South Sudan’s violence erupted after President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer, of attempting a coup.  Mr. Macher who is in hiding has denied the accusation. 

News reports say ethnic tensions between the two groups are partly fueling the conflict, with members of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups targeting each other. 

Benjamin says the agreement paves the way for a resolution over the political disagreement within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement that is blamed for the conflict.

“It falls within the principles, which were suggested by IGAD as the basis for resolving the crisis politically, and that is; cessation of hostilities without any conditions, the issue of the detainees, the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance,” said Benjamin. “So now with the cessation of hostilities, we will move to see what happens with the humanitarian front of that, in this case the resettlement and support of all those thousands of people who have been displaced in their homes.”

Machar had previously refused to sign any deal unless those detained by the government for allegedly plotting to overthrow the administration are released. Benjamin says the signed agreement is a positive step.

“This agreement contains something of the issue of the detainees, and there is also a move forward in that direction,” said Benjamin. “So that gives a signal that political settlement of this issue is possible.”

Clottey interview with Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign minister
Clottey interview with Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign ministeri
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs