South Sudan’s rival leaders sign agreement on security
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s warring sides have signed an agreement on security arrangements amid talks on a peace deal to end a five-year civil war, Sudan’s official news agency reported Thursday.
The talks between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former deputy-turned-armed opposition leader Riek Machar in Khartoum, mediated by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the East African regional bloc, are a continuation of their first face-to-face meeting in almost two years.
Last month Kiir and Machar agreed on a “permanent” cease-fire that began Saturday and was violated within hours, with each side blaming the other.
The SUNA news agency said Kiir and Machar signed the new draft agreement in the presence of al-Bashir.
The report quoted Sudanese army spokesman Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami as saying the rivals reached “consensus” on all points including clearing civilian centers of military presence, deciding on a timeframe for reorganizing and unifying security forces, setting up a joint security committee and determining the forces’ assembly areas.
The two sides, however, have yet to agree on any power-sharing agreement, and South Sudan’s government has rejected the idea of Machar returning yet again as Kiir’s deputy.
Kenya is expected to host further talks in the coming weeks.
South Sudan’s civil war, which broke out in late 2013 between supporters of Kiir and then-vice president Machar, has killed tens of thousands and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Millions are near famine and aid delivery is often blocked in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers.
Both sides have been accused of ethnic violence and abuses including gang-rapes and the killing of children.
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