South Sudan President Salva Kiir (bottom right) and Dr Riek Machar sign a peace pact in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the 29th Extra Ordinary session of IGAD on February 2, 2015.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar early Monday signed a peace deal that immediately ends further bloodshed.
Under the new peace pact , the warring factions agreed to adjourn further talks until February 19 when the negotiations resume ahead of the final and comprehensive peace pact on March 5.
Any side which violates the new peace deal will face unspecified penalties from both the African Union and the United Nations Security Council, Chief Mediator, Ambassador Seuym Mesfen from Ethiopia warned.
The two leaders had on January 21 this year signed another agreement aimed at reunifying the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Intense efforts spearheaded by regional leaders saw the Arusha meeting last into late-night hours, marks a turning point in the bloody conflict.
President Kiir, Machar and Mr Deng Alor Kuol signed the historic agreement after SPLM Intra-Party Dialogue Summit.
On Monday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Ambassador Mesfen asked the two leaders to show statesmanship and honour what they had signed.
The four day negotiations that lead to the peace agreement signing at 12.21am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday were characterised by tension, intense consultations, disagreements, two postponements and political horse trading.
The peace pact was first scheduled to be signed on Thursday, January 29, but was postponed to Saturday and then Sunday.
The negotiations were held under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
President Kenyatta is Igad rapporteur while Ethiopia Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn is the chairman.
Igad members include Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and the two twin states of Sudan and South Sudan.
The crisis in South Sudan started a year ago when former Vice President Machar left the government in a huff after President Kiir accused him of plotting a coup.
Dr Machar became the leader of the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) while President Kiir was left holding to the ruling party, the South Sudanese Liberation Movement-Government of South Sudan Republic (SPLM-GSSR).
Since the split, the two sides and their supporters including militia and armed security forces have been engaged in political skirmishes that led to loss of lives.
Before President Kiir and his former Deputy signed the peace deal, Ambassador Mesfen briefed the media and other stakeholders saying the new agreement was an important development to end the bloody war.
He cautioned that all peace processes have their own challenges but expressed optimism that the new pact will lead to sustainable peace.
He told the two principals that by signing the peace deal, they were rededicating themselves to the cessation of all hostilities.
Thanking President Kiir and Dr Machar for engaging in consultations and signing the peace pact, President Kenyatta said Igad leaders have been seeking peace for South Sudan for a long time and expressed hope the new deal will hold.
“The people in the region and the whole world are hopeful for peace in South Sudan. The principals should commit themselves to peace until a final agreement is reached,” said President Kenyatta.
He added; “This is what the people of South Sudan are hopeful for and are confident peace will be restored.”
He thanked the International community for overseeing the peace process.
The Ethiopian PM thanked Igad leaders for bringing President Kiir and Dr Machar to the negotiating table, hoping that the two principals will stop the suffering of the people of South Sudan.
“I am confident the two leaders will respect what they have signed ahead of the comprehensive peace agreement on March 5,” said the PM.
He said the entire world is keenly watching to see whether peace will prevail in the war-ravaged country.
President Kiir and Dr Machar exchanged the signed peace documents amidst ululations and jubilation from their supporters.
The peace deal making was witnessed by representatives from the USA, United kingdom, all other Igad members, Norway and China.
Igad Executive Secretary Ambassador Mahbub M Maalim and seasoned peace negotiator from Kenya retired major General Elijah Sumbeiywo were also present.
It is hoped that the final and comprehensive peace agreement will include details about the proposed Transitional Government of National Unity and comprehensive political reforms to facilitate General Elections scheduled for June this year.
It is also hoped the final peace agreement will address itself to the overhaul of the current security arrangement leading to a harmonised security team drawn from the two sides in the conflict.