24 January 2014

South Sudan: The Two Parties in South Sudan Sign an Agreement for Cessation of Hostilities

South Sudan's Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM in Opposition) finally signed a ceasefire agreement late on Thursday (January 23) aimed to end more than a month's fighting.

The two sides also signed an agreement on the Question of Detainees. According to the agreement the detainees must face due legal processes but both sides acknowledged the role they can play in the ongoing dialogue. The deal says the warring parties will "redeploy and/or progressively withdraw armed groups and allied forces invited by either side from the theatre of operation". A Monitoring and Verification Mechanism will be formed by the IGAD mediators in consultation with the two parties, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is expected to be tasked with the monitoring of the agreement. Congratulating the two sides, Foreign Minister and Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive Council, Dr. Tedros,"It is time now for the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and a nationwide healing process and building of trust and confidence in their people; who are paying heavy price in this deadly conflict." He added "The IGAD is committed to the immediate launching of the verification and monitoring mechanism, which will monitor observance and implementation of the agreement."Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, chair of the Mediation Committee said that mediation will now adjourn until February 7 in order to allow for the setting up of the Joint Technical Committee and the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism.

The Cessation of the Hostilities Agreement obliges both sides to halt fighting within the next 24 hours and thereby allow access for humanitarian aid. The signing of the agreement was welcomed by US President Obama who said South Sudan's leaders now need to "work to fully and immediately implement the agreement and start an inclusive political dialogue to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict." He added that the "the full participation of political detainees currently being held by the Government of South Sudan will be critical to those discussions." President Obama praised the constructive role played by the IGAD Authority and its partners in the region. UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon also welcomed the agreement calling on all parties to immediately implement it. He also reiterated his call for all parties to ensure freedom of movement of UNMISS, humanitarian workers and human rights monitors. Nihal Deng Nihal of the Government of South Sudan said " It was important that the major bone of contention which was the release of the 11 detainees was peacefully resolved. "Tanb Deng ,Chief Negotiator of the SPLM/A in opposition for his part said said " This is what we have been waiting for ; my country cannot afford to go on like this for one more day"

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