S. Sudan Leaders Sign Power-Sharing Deal
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed another ceasefire deal Monday in their latest effort to end 15 months of deadly fighting in a civil war that has ravaged the world’s newest country and killed 10,000 people.
“Complete cessation of hostilities in South Sudan is expected as of this morning [Monday],” Seyoum Mesfin, chief mediator of the East African IGAD bloc, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where the ceasefire deal was signed, France24 said in a report.
The two leaders have signed – and then broken – at least six previous ceasefire agreements since fighting began in December 2013.
Under the agreement, Kiir would remain president in a new administration while Machar would be reappointed vice president (a position he held until July 2013 when he was dismissed by Kiir), two African diplomats who work for the regional IGAD bloc announced.
Mesfin said ahead of the signing ceremony that the two leaders had agreed to resume talks on 20 February.
“[Those talks] would be final and that would lead them into concluding a comprehensive agreement to end the crisis in South Sudan,” Mesfin told reporters minutes before Kiir and Machar signed the latest peace deal.
Machar’s rebels, however, said many more details need to be ironed out before the deal can be labeled a “power-sharing” agreement.
Threat of Sanctions
After signing the latest agreement, Machar said the two sides would hold more discussions on the functions of the provisional government.
Few other details were revealed after frantic late-night talks. Regional diplomats had warned the warring sides that failure to come up with a new deal could see sanctions imposed on them.
The conflict in Africa’s newest nation and one of its poorest has dragged on despite several commitments by Kiir and Machar to halt the violence.
More than 10,000 people have been killed, about 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes and many in the oil-producing nation of about 11 million people are struggling to find enough food to eat.
The two sides need a transitional government in place by July, when Kiir’s presidential term runs out.
Rights groups have said both factions have been responsible for ethnic killings and other abuses, driving the nation to the brink of famine. The fighting has largely pitted Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group against Machar’s Nuer group.
IGAD mediators did not try to hide their frustrations after meeting for an eighth summit to try to resolve the crisis. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told Kiir and Machar this was not what the people of South Sudan expected from their leaders after years of struggle.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of armed conflict. Salva Kiir has led South Sudan, the world’s newest state, since its independence from Sudan four years ago.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn warned that failure to reach an agreement would have serious consequences for all of them, especially the leaders of South Sudan.
A western diplomat involved in the talks played down Sunday’s interim agreement, telling “This is not a significant breakthrough, this is a small step at the most.”
Kiir and Machar last met in November in Addis Ababa, where they agreed an immediate halt to the war, a deal broken within hours.
The fighting in the capital Juba set off a cycle of retaliatory massacres across the country.