Last updateDim, 25 Jan 2015 12pm

Ceasefire accord enters into force Friday - South Sudan

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - A ceasefire agreement seeking the immediate stop to all acts of violence and military hostilities entered into force in South Sudan Friday, PANA reported here. The ceasefire accord, signed by the South Sudanese rivals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, demands the immediate withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the troubled nation.

At the signing of the ceasefire agreement and a separate pact on the status of the detainees, the South Sudanese opposition expressed hope for more profound political reform.

'The opposition will abide by the agreement and commit to the ceasefire as we demand for political reform,' said Gen. Taban Deng Gai, who signed the ceasefire on behalf of the South Sudanese opposition.

Nhial Deng Nhial, a veteran of the South Sudanese civil war with the Khartoum-based government, signed the agreement on behalf of the South Sudanese government.

The warring sides to the month-long conflict also resolved to respect the international humanitarian law as well as set up a humanitarian corridor.

The ceasefire agreement made no further reference to any future international military operation, including a UN operation approved recently to curb further carnage in the world's infant state.

The government and the opposition parties, representing former Vice President Riek Machar, also agreed to protect civilians from rape and other hostilities.

The deal commits both sides to cease hostile propaganda through any forms of media.

All military and militias invited into South Sudan must leave. All the fighting units will also remain grounded.

Both sides agreed to a monitored and verifiable ceasefire.

At the signing ceremony, Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, said the measure was a 'significant achievement' in the ongoing peace negotiations.

Both sides to the conflict have been accused of making ceasefire commitments around the table while continuing with hostilities on the ground.

The agreement between President Salva Kiir's side and Riek Machar, whose side was branded the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) Opposition, was silent on security arrangements to be put in place in the interim period as political discussions follow.

In the ceasefire deal, both sides admitted that their civil and political squabbling resulted from internal disagreements.

Earlier reports blamed the outbreak of fighting to an attempted coup and to divisions within the military.

The fighting, which broke out after a ruling party dispute over the 2015 elections, quickly escalated into a full blown military operation.

The ruling Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army was embroiled in a leadership row that saw Kiir's associates accuse former Vice President Machar's allies of corruption.

Several senior SPLA/M members were detained after disagreements at a party convention.

The political wrangling within the SPLA/M is not new.

Under a 2005 power-sharing agreement with Khartoum, Kiir became Vice President in the national unity government of Sudan while Machar remained Vice President in the South.

Both sides inked a separate agreement on the status of political detainees.

The agreement called for their expeditious release and the start of talks on new reforms required.

The rivals also agreed to embark on national dialogue. The peace and reconciliation talks should bring together all the the civil society and community elders.

Meanwhile, the two sides to the conflict agreed to delay the lifting of a state of emergency until after further consultations.

But the ceasefire monitoring agreement allows mediators from Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, to determine the chairman of a monitoring body to be created.

The monitors would be based in Juba. They are to be drawn from across the East African region.

They would monitor any violations to the ceasefire, including any hostile propaganda aimed at whipping tribal tensions.

On Thursday both sides agreed to immediately freeze the movement of all military equipment and ammunition.

Forces from Uganda or those helping Machar, and any allied militia, would stop any forms of movement.

Pana 25/01/2014