World Bulletin/News Desk
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar declared a cease-fire late Friday and asked a mediating East African trade bloc for 15 days to sign a peace deal.
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional bloc that has been mediating the peace talks, has agreed to give the two rivals 15 days to sign a comprehensive peace agreement, according to Anadolu Agency reporter.
“The parties commit to an unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities, and to bring the war to an end, as of the date of this resolution. The Parties further commit to the immediate cessation of the recruitment and mobilization of civilians,” a communiqué issued by the IGAD said late Friday.
The statement read out by the bloc’s chief mediator Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin marked the end of an IGAD summit that was held in Addis Ababa in hopes to achieve a breakthrough in the peace talks between South Sudan’s warring rivals by clearing the contentious issue of executive power-sharing between the two sides.
The communiqué said the 15 days given to the rival leaders to reach an agreement came upon their request for further consultations with their respective entourages.
The IGAD warned the two sides that any violation of an earlier cession of hostilities agreement by any party will invite action by the bloc against whoever responsible.
Punitive action “will include, but are not limited to: the enactment of asset freezes; the enactment of travel bans within the region; denial of the supply of arms and ammunition, and any other material that could be used in war,” Mesfin said.
“Further, the IGAD region shall without further reference to the warring parties take the necessary measures to directly intervene in South Sudan to protect life and restore peace and stability,” the release added.
“Should it be necessary to implement these measures, the IGAD region calls on African Peace and Security Council, the UN Security Council to render all possible assistance to implementation of these measures,” it added.
After the communiqué has been read out, both rivals separately expressed commitment to the statement and to previous agreements. They also obliged their respective forces to remain in their positions and act only in self-defense.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused Machar of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, which has led to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of IGAD, a regional bloc based in Djibouti. Yet, the talks are yet to yield a solution to the crisis.Last Mod: 08 Kasım 2014, 12:00