South Sudan President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar have signed a “permanent” ceasefire deal to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of a deal to end their country’s devastating war.
“All parties have agreed on a permanent ceasefire within 72 hours of signing the Khartoum Document,” according to Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed announced following talks in the Sudanese capital.
Kiir and Machar then signed the document in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who hosted the second face – face meeting between South Sudanese rival leaders.
The clauses that created three capital cities in South Sudan and mandating Sudan to take control of South Sudan’s oilfields have excluded from the signed agreement.
The latest push for peace in South Sudan comes as part of a fresh bid launched by East African leaders with the two fighting factions facing a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.
The Khartoum negotiations came after a round of talks brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week in Addis Ababa faltered.
Speaking after signing, Sudan president Bashir said that a gun shot should be silent across South Sudan.
“This agreement is the beginning of peace in South Sudan. I am very happy with what has happened today, we have reached an agreement in a very short time and this is because the leaders were very serious,” president Bashir after signing of a new deal.
On arriving in Khartoum, Kiir and Machar expressed their readiness to talk peace as the dialogue opened in the presence of Bashir and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
At the same event, president Kiir said it is a day that a suffering people of South Sudan have been expecting and therefore he happy that it has finally achieved.
“I am committed to accept the whole document that I have signed and will abide by all the agreement,” president said, adding that I will not let you down a mediators and facilitators and I will not let you down the people of South Sudan.”
Several previous ceasefire agreements since 2014 have been violated.
Meanwhile, rebel leader Machar said this agreement will help the refugees and those in the protection sites in South Sudan (Poc) to return their homes.
“This agreement is now signed. This agreement has a lot of meaning, first the war should come to (an) end by this declaration of ceasefire,” Machar said, further added that I believe our people in South Sudan will be happiest.
“This agreement is the start of the new phase in the lives of our people. We expected within short time to have a full agreement because our parties have come to Khartoum,” rebel leader said.
South Sudan’s war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about four million, broke out in December 2013 when Kiir accused his then-deputy Machar of plotting a coup, dashing the optimism that accompanied independence from Sudan just two years earlier.
The two principals signed agreement in August 2015, returned Machar to Juba as a first vice president, but deal collapsed in 2016, after renewal fighting at presidential palace in Juba between president Kiir and rebel leader Machar’s loyalists, forced Machar fled a country, where he ended up in political detention in South Africa for two years until he was released a week ago to held talks with president Kiir in Addis Ababa and then Khartoum.