South Sudan Army, Rebel Forces hold first meeting to strengthen peace


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South Sudan Army and Rebels from the main Rebel Group led by former First Vice President Riek Machar, have agreed on key provisions to cease hostilities and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

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Lul Ruai Koang, the South Sudan People’s defence forces spokesman, told Xinhua on Wednesday that they reached compromise with the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition.

According to him, the compromise is to allow free movement of soldiers, enhance security of civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access in their controlled territories.

“Those points were agreed upon which basically echoed provisions contained in the revitalised peace agreement,’’ said Koang in Juba.

The recent meeting comes in the wake of President Salva Kiir signing the final revitalised agreement with Machar’s SPLA-IO on Sept. 12, in Ethiopia, ending over four years of conflict.

Under the deal, Machar will return in May 2019 to Juba to take up his former post of first vice president under the revitalised peace agreement negotiated by the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir with support from the East African bloc, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO spokesperson, said they agreed on free movement of soldiers or security personnel with departure orders and they must be unarmed and in none-uniform.

He said the pact includes allowing free movement of civilians, non- military logistics and goods through each other’s controlled territories.

Gabriel added that both sides will take full responsibility for any criminal activity that happens in each territory and bring the perpetrators to book.

He further said humanitarian organisations will be granted unhindered access to the most vulnerable population so that basic services can be provided to them.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital, Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The UN estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.


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