The South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a peace agreement with insurgent factions in the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday to end a civil war that has killed no less than 50,000 people, displaced two million and held up the nation’s progress since it gained independence 7 years ago.
South Sudan plunged into warfare two years after independence from Sudan in 2011 when a political dispute between Kiir and then vice-president Riek Machar erupted into armed confrontation.
A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell aside a 12 months later after clashes broke out between government forces and rebels.
Machar, leader of the main insurgent group the SPLM-IO, and other rebel factions signed the new agreement with the Juba government after assurances power-sharing accord would be honored. The deal, mediated by Sudan, reinstates Machar to his former position as vice-president.
The stability of South Sudan is also vital for Sudan and other neighboring countries, who worry a new flare-up of the battle could flood them with refugees.
The civil conflict began in 2013, fueled by personal and ethnic rivalries. The battle has killed not less than 50,000 people, many of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
An estimated quarter of South Sudan’s inhabitants of 12 million has been displaced and its economy, which heavily depends on crude oil production, ruined.
The secession of South Sudan also hit Khartoum’s economy hard, taking with it most of the region’s oil reserves.
Khartoum and Juba agreed in June to repair oil infrastructure facilities destroyed by the conflict within three months to boost production and said a joint force would be established to guard oilfields from assaults by rebels.
The USA, Britain and Norway, referred to as the Troika which back peace efforts, welcomed the signing of the deal.
“We hope discussions will remain open to those who are not yet convinced of the sustainability of this agreement,” they mentioned in a press release. “We must seize this broader regional momentum to secure peace for the people of South Sudan.”
Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of the East African bloc IGAD, stated the rivals had been at odds over security arrangements and governance but that the final version of the deal had addressed disagreements.
“This is probably the best-negotiated proposal signed so far,” he informed Reuters after it was signed at a meeting of IGAD leaders.
Asked what a failure to implement the deal would entail, Maalim stated: “We expect the South Sudanese sides to embrace the wind of change in the region.”
The region has seen a series of stunning rapprochements over the past months, including a reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
IGAD had been anticipated to readmit Eritrea as a member on Wednesday, 11 years after Asmara walked out on the physique in protest at Ethiopian forces getting into Somalia. However that move was postponed for procedural reasons and was likely to happen in the bloc’s next gathering, officials stated.