WASHINGTON/KHARTOUM - An official says South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar has agreed to sign a final peace deal with the government to end the five-year civil war, one day after refusing to do so.
Machar's SPLM-In Opposition and mediators for President Salva Kiir have held several weeks of talks in Khartoum to finalize a a comprehensive peace deal to end the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people and left more than four million displaced from their homes.
The warring parties have signed several agreements, including a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing deal in June, which allow Machar to return to Juba as South Sudan’s first vice president.
On Tuesday, Machar refused to sign the final deal after the government signed it.
But Sudanese Foreign Minister Al Dirdiri Mohammed Ahmed said Wednesday Machar will sign the agreement Thursday in Khartoum.
Earlier, Machar and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance said they refused to sign the draft because it had not spelled out the number of states South Sudan will have or their boundaries. It is unclear whether the other opposition groups will sign the deal tomorrow.
Sources close to the mediators say Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir promised Machar the issues raised by the opposition will be discussed and considered by the regional bloc IGAD (intergovernmental authority on development) heads of state.