South Sudan signs ceasefire with rebels

The government of South Sudan and representatives of rebel forces in the country signed a ceasefire agreement January 23rd in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The agreement stipulates fighting will end within 24 hours.

Over the last week, the South Sudanese military was able to retake the rebel held cities of Bor and Malakal where much of the violence has taken place.

The two sides in the conflict have been negotiating for peace at meetings in neighbouring Ethiopia since the beginning of the year.

Two South Sudanese rebel delegations  told Reuters they were willing to sign onto the deal.  The spokesman for the mediation group representing a regional intergovernmental organization says a signing ceremony between the parties is scheduled for 14:00 GMT.

An end to the bloodshed

Both sides in the conflict have claimed they were close to negotiating a ceasefire before but efforts have been hampered by continuing disagreements over the terms of the ceasefire.

Thousands have died in this ethnically fueled conflict across the country since the bloodshed began in December.  Allegations by President Salva Kiir of a coup attempt by former deputy Riek Machar triggered the violence.  

The South Sudanese army has been aided in its efforts to quell the rebellion by neighbouring Uganda who sent troops into the country.  Rebel groups have demanded that Uganda remove its troops from the country as a possible condition of the agreement.  Reuters is reporting diplomats at the meetings have agreed to include in the agreement a call for all foreign forces to leave South Sudan.

Rebels also demanded that 11 of Machar’s colleagues held for the alleged coup attempt be released.  However that request has been dropped as all parties have agreed to discuss the issue of the detainees separately.


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