World Bulletin/News Desk
Senior military officers representing South Sudan's government and rebels met Saturday in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss ways of implementing a cessation-of-hostilities agreement with a view to halting violence in the world's newest state.
Addressing the opening of the two-day meeting, chief mediator of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Seyoum Mesfin said that the event was critically important.
"Now both parties have signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Implementation Matrix on the 9th November 2014," Mesfin said. "They have pledged to unconditionally implement all of the steps contained in the Matrix and its addendum."
"This achievement follows the progress made during the negotiations at Bahir Dar (a city in northwest of Ethiopia) and of the 28th Extraordinary IGAD Assembly, and the clear commitment of both principals to end the war, to end the war immediately as of the early hours of the 8th of November 2014," he said.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, his sacked vice-president, of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, leading to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation for large swathes of the country's population.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of IGAD, a Djibouti-based regional bloc.
The cessation-of-hostilities matrix covers security, social and economic arrangements, as well as political and constitutional issues in hopes of leading to a permanent peace deal.
The rebel camp, however, says it never signed onto the agreement, but rather had merely recommitted to a January 23 cessation-of-hostilities deal.
Mesfin said that there have been "endless violations" of the cessation-of-hostilities agreement.
"Your role," he told the military officers, "is thus critical to change this reality through putting in place measures to assist the parties to move forward and avoid backtracking."
"Your work is vital because it will lead to disengagement of the warring parties, identifying the position of their troops, creating of buffer zones which will separate the forces," he said.
"It will ensure that clear timetables and implementation mechanisms are in place and help the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism to follow through."
Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2014, 16:05