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South Sudan Warring Sides Agree to 'Matrix' to End Violence

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, shown here at an Extraordinary Summit of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State on Jan. 31, 2014, says IGAD member states "will take action" if South Sudan fails to respect the blueprint signed Aug. 26, for creating a transitional government and restoring peace.

The South Sudanese government and opposition have agreed to a blueprint for implementing a seven-month-old cessation of hostilities agreement, the regional bloc trying to restore peace in South Sudan said Tuesday.

The so-called matrix was signed late Monday by the warring sides at an extraordinary meeting of IGAD heads of state and government in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who chairs IGAD, said the regional bloc, which is the lead mediator at South Sudanese peace talks, will take action against the warring parties if they fail -- again -- to stick to the terms of the agreement.

IGAD was disappointed when the Aug. 10 deadline for the South Sudanese to set up a transitional government, as agreed to in June by President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, came and went.

New deadline

Hailemariam said IGAD agreed at its summit meeting to give the South Sudanese a new deadline to form a government, but this time they only have 45 days.

If that deadline is missed, "...the region will take its own action," he said.

"Failing to do so will have a consequence. We are sending a message, a clear message, to the leaders of South Sudan," he said.

In a statement released in New York, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called "on both parties to immediately implement the agreement and uphold their commitment to establishing a transitional government of national unity."

Ban also praised IGAD for its "tireless efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in South Sudan."

IGAD has been trying since January to pull together a peace deal that sticks for South Sudan . Even the cessation of hostilities agreement, which was signed on January 23, was violated within hours of being signed.

Hours after the matrix was agreed to in Addis Ababa, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported that three Russian crew members were killed and one injured when the U.N.-contracted helicopter they were travelling in, on a routine cargo mission, crashed near Bentiu in Unity state.

A spokesman for the SPLA said anti-government rebels shot down the aircraft. The U.N. has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

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