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Kiir and Machar agree to ceasefire

South Sudan’s government headed by Salva Kiir and opposition forces led by Riek Machar have accepted a ceasefire agreement after negotiations in Addis Ababa, top sources in both Juba and the Ethiopian capital told Radio Tamazuj. 

Under the terms of the agreement the soldiers of both the national army and the opposition must stop fighting. The agreement will lead to further negotiations on how to resolve the crisis that started more than a month ago in South Sudan.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation team handed over a final draft agreement on a cessation of hostilities to the two warring parties on Friday evening and expected them to respond on Saturday either yes or no, without allowing the opportunity for further negotiation or comment.

Yohannes Musa, assistant spokesman of the delegation of the opposition in Addis Ababa, explained that the document includes four points.

First, they agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities.  Second, they agree to stop media campaigns and propaganda statements against each other. Third, they agree to allow humanitarian access to assist victims of the conflict.  Fourth, they agree on the withdrawal of foreign troops from South Sudan, namely the Ugandan army.

Musa told Radio Tamazuj at midday on Saturday that the group led by Riek Machar expressed their approval of the document. He said they were waiting for the approval of the other party, and expects the head of their delegation to arrive back in Addis Ababa on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Nhial Deng, the head of the government delegation, held consultations in Juba on Saturday with President Salva Kiir, along with Information Minister Michael Makuei, the president’s spokesman told Radio Tamazuj at 2:15 p.m.

He confirmed that the government has agreed to the ceasefire, saying he expected it to be signed tonight by the head negotiator Nhial Deng after his return to Addis Ababa. 

Yien Matthew, another member of the opposition delegation, likewise confirmed they agree to the ceasefire. He said that the stipulation on the withdrawal of foreign forces was well received on their side, which encouraged them to agree to the deal.

Photo: Negotiators and mediators in Addis Ababa on 6 January 2014 (AFP/Carl de Souza)

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