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South Sudan: Government signs ceasefire pact with rebels - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Leader of the South Sudan government delegation Nhial Deng Nhial (L) exchanges a signed ceasefire agreement with head of the rebel delegation Gen. Taban Deng Gai (R) after negotiations in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on January 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Birahnu Sebsibe)

Leader of the South Sudan government delegation Nhial Deng Nhial (L) exchanges a signed ceasefire agreement with head of the rebel delegation Gen. Taban Deng Gai (R) after negotiations in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on January 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Birahnu Sebsibe)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The South Sudanese government and rebels signed a ceasefire pact on Thursday aimed at ending the violence that has ravaged the country since December 15.

Agreed after more than two weeks of talks in Addis Ababa, the deal provides for the immediate end to atrocities and allows humanitarian agencies access to affected civilians across the country.

The deal is expected to be put into effect by late Friday local time, 24 hours after it was signed.

But there have already been reports the government is violating the ceasefire. According to the Associate Press, opposition leader Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said government forces had been attacking rebels in Unity and Jonglei states.

Almost 2,000 people have been killed and almost half a million displaced in the conflict, which erupted just over a month ago when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice-president, Riek Machar, of attempting to stage a coup.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, rebel spokesman Yohannes Pouk said that the deal prevented either side from making any further military advances on the ground.

Representatives from both warring sides as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a six-nation East African bloc, will oversee the implementation of ceasefire.

According to Pouk, the rebels and government delegations in Addis Ababa would resume talks on February 7 to discuss issues relating to governance, power-sharing and the administration of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), of which both Kiir and Machar are members.

The rebels’ spokesman added that the deal provided for the release of senior SPLM figures who were detained by the government for siding with Machar. Believed to be among those detained is former party Secretary-General Bagan Amum.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, a source close to the peace talks in the Ethiopian capital also said that pro-Machar political prisoners could be released under an amnesty within the next few days.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, South Sudanese political analyst Atim Simon praised the news of the ceasefire deal which he said would “turn a new page on the pains of the past and open the doors of a future homeland that accommodates us all.”