Warring parties sign cease-fire

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — South Sudan’s government and rebels signed a cease-fire deal Thursday that leaders hope will put a pause to five weeks of warfare that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — South Sudan’s government and rebels signed a cease-fire deal Thursday that leaders hope will put a pause to five weeks of warfare that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.

The peace deal represents the first real progress since political friction turned violent Dec. 15, fueling countrywide battles with ethnic overtones. But questions were immediately raised about whether all fighters in South Sudan would abide by the agreement, and how long others would follow it.

The military spokesman for South Sudan cautioned that a group of rebel fighters from the former vice-president’s Nuer ethnic group — thousands of armed youths known as the “White Army” — may not want peace.

“Riek Machar has been using that force to fight the SPLA, so we have to see what will happen,” said Col. Philip Aguer, using the acronym for South Sudan’s military.

“War is not good for anybody, especially war fought for power of a political position,” Aguer continued. “Civilians, innocents are dying, so it is good for the people of South Sudan to have peace.”

Nhail Deng Nhail, the head of South Sudan’s negotiating team, said his side is worried that since many on the rebel side are civilians who took up arms, “it may become difficult to follow the cease-fire since they are not militarily disciplined.”

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney welcomed the deal — technically called a cessation of hostilities — and described it as a “first critical step in ending the violence” and building a sustainable peace. The U.S. expects both parties to implement the agreement fully and swiftly and move toward an inclusive dialogue, he said.

“The United States will remain a steady partner to those who choose the path of peace” and work toward a more democratic, unified South Sudan, Carney said.

Talks are scheduled to resume in early February, but a sore point between the sides remains. Machar’s side has been pushing to get 11 top former government leaders released from prison. President Salva Kiir has said the 11 will be subjected to South Sudan’s judicial process.

The top negotiator for Machar’s side, Taban Deng Gai, a general in South Sudan’s army before he defected, said late Thursday that talks would not continue if the government does not release the 11 detainees. South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuel Lueth, said the detainee issue has nothing to do with the cessation of hostilities agreement.

The United States helped broker talks that saw South Sudan end its civil war with Sudan in 2005 and then gain independence in 2011. Tepid progress by the world’s newest country — and one of the globe’s poorest — has been turned upside down.

An estimated half million residents have fled their homes because of the fighting, which has often pitted Kiir’s Dinka-led government and military against Nuer fighters backing Machar.

The UN has warned of atrocities committed by both sides on the battlefield.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer reports 6 new cases of COVID-19

COVID-19 modelling projections highlight the importance of “aggressive countermeasures,” says the provincial… Continue reading

Suspected thieves caught red-handed by Sylvan Lake RCMP

Incidents happened last Sunday and Monday in the Birchcliff and Lacombe County areas

Optimist Club of Red Deer donates to youth shelter

The Optimist Club of Red Deer has donated more than $1,800 to… Continue reading

Easter Bunny visiting central Albertans to support food banks

The Easter Bunny has been enlisted to help raise money for local… Continue reading

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Message from RE/MAX Commercial: What to do when ‘sorry we’re temporarily closed’ is part of your business as landlord or tenant

Do you have questions about rent reductions or deferral of lease payments? Experts can help

Armed Forces reports 20 military suicides last year, largest number since 2014

Armed Forces reports 20 military suicides last year, largest number since 2014

‘Little to do with COVID:’ Landowners, law experts criticize well cleanup bill

‘Little to do with COVID:’ Landowners, law experts criticize well cleanup bill

First troops return from Ukraine, in quarantine at Ontario military base

First troops return from Ukraine, in quarantine at Ontario military base

Man charged after licking product in store as part of ‘COVID Challenge:’ police

Man charged after licking product in store as part of ‘COVID Challenge:’ police

Business generally supports changes to wage subsidy rules unveiled by Trudeau

Business generally supports changes to wage subsidy rules unveiled by Trudeau

Most Read