South Sudan warring sides sign cease-fire for Christmas Eve

2017-12-22 07:42
iStock

iStock (iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - South Sudan's warring factions on Thursday signed a new agreement to cease hostilities and protect civilians in the latest effort to calm a devastating civil war. The cease-fire is set to begin first thing on Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve.

They also agreed to grant humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas after days of talks in neighbouring Ethiopia brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development regional bloc.

South Sudan is entering its fifth year of civil war, and no one knows how many tens of thousands of people have been killed in the world's youngest nation. Parts of the East African country are on the brink of famine, and well over a million people have fled abroad, creating the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis.

The US called the deal "the last chance for the implementation of the peace process." Past attempts at peace deals have failed amid renewed violence. The new deal is an attempt to salvage a 2015 peace agreement.

South Sudan's government is under growing pressure to find an end to the civil war as the U.S. and others threaten further sanctions.

"This is a gift to South Sudanese people to celebrate their Christmas and New Year. This is the most precious gift of all time," Ethiopia's foreign minister, Workineh Gebeyehu, said during the signing ceremony. "But as past experience has showed, implementation is the longer and more difficult aspect . many critical issues lie ahead."

'Final alternative' 

The agreement also calls on the warring sides to release prisoners of war, political prisoners and abducted women and children, who have been victims of widespread sexual violence and recruitment as child soldiers.

"Everyone is tired of the war in South Sudan," the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, told the gathering.

Ethiopia's leader called the deal a "final alternative" and said failing to adhere to it will bring consequences and the rest of Africa and the world "will not sit idly by." Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council warned of "costs or consequences" for South Sudan's government and opposition if they undermine efforts to implement the 2015 peace deal.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir was not present at the signing. The government's lead delegate to the talks, cabinet affairs minister Martin Elias Lomoro, told The Associated Press that rebel leader Riek Machar didn't take part because he wasn't deemed helpful.

The country plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013, just two years after independence from Sudan, when forces loyal to Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to his former vice president, Machar, a Nuer.

Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.