South Sudan peace accord signed

Salva Kiir

Ending nearly two years of conflict in the world’s youngest independent country South Sudan, President Salva Kiir signed a peace accord with the rebels in Juba on August 26. Just a few days ago President Kiir had refused to sign the peace accord saying the deal wasn’t fair as it favoured the rebels. He said he needed more time to decide on signing the accord. The deal was reached between President Kiir and the rebels led by his former associate Riek Machar. The rebel leader had already signed the peace accord a few days back in Ethiopia. President Kiir’s signing of the deal came in the presence of many African regional leaders who were a part of the negotiating process between the groups in the war-torn country. Around 2.2 million people are estimated to have been displaced during the war.

The roadmap for peace was laid out in the accord. The peace accord includes:

  • Fighting to stop immediately. Soldiers confined to barracks in 30 days, foreign forces to leave in 45 days and child soldiers and prisoners of war to be freed.
  • All military forces to leave the capital, Juba, to be replaced by unspecified ‘guard forces’ and Joint Integrated Police.
  • The post of Vice President would go to the rebels.
  • Transitional government of unity to be in place within 90 days and govern for 30 months.
  • Election to be held 60 days before the period of the transition government concludes.
  • Human rights violations to be investigated by a commission for truth, reconciliation and healing.

Role of the international community

The African Union, especially some of the countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda played a strong role as regional players in helping negotiate the peace agreement. However, the pressure on South Sudan increased when the United States decided to step in and along with the United Nations threatened to impose sanctions on the country and a likely arms embargo if the country didn’t sign the peace accord. The accord gathered momentum after US President Barack Obama visited Ethiopia and discussed the way forward for South Sudan with the African Union leaders.

Road ahead for South Sudan

While the peace accord has been signed for now, it is still not certain that fighting in the war-torn country would end. A split within the rebel group has led to further tensions with some of the breakaway groups saying the peace accord means nothing to them and that fighting would continue.

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