South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar on Tuesday agreed to end the ongoing war and fully engage in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led peace process to resolve the six-month old conflict.
Both leaders, IGAD said in a communiqué, committed themselves to the formation of a transitional government of national unity within 60 days as well as ensure unhindered humanitarian support to affected people with immediate effect.
An extraordinary summit, chaired by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, was specifically convened by the IGAD heads of states in Addis Ababa to discuss the South Sudan situation.
President Kiir and Machar met on the sidelines of the regional leaders’ summit to find ways of resolving the country’s nearly sixth month conflict.
The extraordinary summit “Applauds the two leaders on their signing of the 9 May 2011 landmark agreement in Addis Ababa, which provided the basis for negotiating a transitional government of national unity; and committed them to ensure the inclusion of a broader range of South Sudanese stakeholders in the negotiations, namely: the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the SPLM/A In Opposition, SPLM leaders (Former Detainees), political parties, civil society, and faith-based leaders in the peace process”, partly reads IGAD’s communiqué.
The IGAD regional leaders also commended the initiation of the inclusive, multi-stakeholder phase of negotiations, through the 6-7 June symposium, saying it provided a platform for constructive dialogue on key issues towards political transition and peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Over 200 South Sudanese participants drawn from a broad range of sectors and regions, including government, opposition, civil society and religious leaders attended the Addis Ababa conference.
Earlier on, however, the IGAD mediators had expressed concern over failure by the two warring parties to adhere to provisions of the signed ceasefire agreements, warning of tougher consequences.
IGAD member states also warned “punitive” measures should any of the parties in the South Sudanese conflict fail to honour its commitments to the resolutions of the issued communiqué.
The verbal event was the second face-to-face meeting between Kiir and Machar since 9 May when they signed a roadmap agreement that would guide further negotiations.
Opposition leader Riek Machar told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday after the meeting that they recommitted themselves to respect the previous roadmap agreement and further negotiate on a peace agreement.
‘We agreed to respect the roadmap agreement we signed on 9 May, recommitting ourselves to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. We also agreed on free and unhindered humanitarian access to the needy populations,” Machar told Sudan Tribune from the Ethiopian capital on Tuesday.
He said in the direct roundtable face-to-face talks with Salva Kiir in the presence of the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and a number of regional leaders, they also agreed to pull out from South Sudan the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) which is fighting alongside the government forces against the opposition forces.
“We agreed on withdrawal of Ugandan troops,” he added.
Uganda is seen a key ally of president Kiir and analysts say the withdrawal of the Uganda troops would place a complete responsibility of the regional troops to provide protection to key economic zones and the country’s vital installments.
The former vice-president turned rebel leader explained that the meeting also recommitted the two leaders to inclusivity in the negotiations in which civil society organizations, political parties and faith-based groups will take part.
He further explained that the two parties and other South Sudanese stakeholders will negotiate future governance in South Sudan and reach a peace agreement in which a transitional government will be the product.
The rebels have been demanding restructuring of the state based on a peace agreement and a federal constitution, a call the government has resisted.
ACTIVISTS WELCOME DEAL
Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) said it welcomes the outcome of the 10 June meeting in Addis Ababa between president Kiir and rebel leader Machar.
“The commitment they did for 60 days is good and this demonstrates that they want to give peace a chance. Besides this move, CEPO is urging both leaders to ensure that the military fighting taking place in some parts of Upper Nile and Unity states is ended as it demonstrates bad practices and was making civilians feel that seriousness for giving peace a chance was low and doubtful”, CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani told Sudan Tribune from Botswana.
“[As such] CEPO is urging you as leaders to dedicate yourselves to the principle of signed agreement and ensure it is honored and respected”, he added.
The violence, which broke out in South Sudan late last year, has displaced more than a million people and killed thousands in the worst-ever conflict since its independence.
Source: South Sudan Tribune