South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former deputy who is leading the armed opposition against him, signed a new peace agreement.
Meeting face-to-face for the first time in months, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former deputy who is leading the armed opposition against him, signed a new peace agreement aimed at ending the terrible violence in that East African nation.
Unfortunately, both sides have skirmished in some places since the signing of the agreement. If honored by both sides, the pact will allow for an end to the fighting, and for unhindered, badly needed humanitarian access to civilians caught in the conflict. With both leaders saying they are committed to making the cessation of hostilities agreement work this time, the stage may be set to end the political crisis. Both leaders agreed to negotiate a transitional government and to hold inclusive talks to begin a process of national dialogue and reconciliation.
Kiir and Machar met May 9 in Addis Ababa in talks hosted by the government of Ethiopia, following separate discussions with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is the second time that the two sides have promised to stop fighting. Neither side has adhered to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in January. Strong international interest has been brought to bear to end the fighting now, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and displacement of one million others. Human rights abuses have been committed by both sides and with the economy in ruins, the nation faces the prospect of famine. Sanctions have been imposed on two individuals identified as committing or ordering human rights abuses or obstructing the peace process there, and other sanctions may follow.
The United States welcomes the May 9 agreement as a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan. We urge both leaders to take immediate action now to ensure that this agreement is implemented in full and that armed groups on both sides adhere to its terms.
The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long. This agreement presents an opportunity to start a path toward peace that must not be lost. The United States stands with the people of South Sudan and is committed to doing everything we can to assist them.