May 9, 2014 (JUBA) – US secretary of state John Kerry has urged South Sudanese leaders to ensure Friday’s agreement immediately halts fighting in the country and negotiate a transitional government that could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, smiles as he meets his friends at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on 9 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
“The hard journey on a long road begins now and the work must continue”, said Kerry in a statement issued Friday.
Both leaders, he added, should take immediate actions to ensure that this agreement is implemented in full and that armed groups on both sides adhere to its terms.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar, agreed on Friday to stop fighting and allow humanitarian access to the affected civilians, days after Kerry visited the conflict-hit nation.
The two sides, in line with the guideline document, also agreed to open humanitarian corridors, and "to cooperate, unconditionally, with the UN and humanitarian agencies to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches affected populations in all areas of South Sudan".
The two leaders further agreed to form a transitional government of national unity and to include all South Sudanese stakeholders in the peace process and the negotiation of an interim government to "ensure broad ownership of the agreed outcomes.
LAUDS IGAD’S ROLE
Meanwhile, Senator Kerry acknowledged the effort of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) chairperson, Hailemariam Desalegn, to convene this meeting and to mediate this positive outcome between the South Sudanese rival leaders.
“I saw with my own eyes last week the stakes and the struggles in a new nation we helped courageous people create. The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long”, Kerry said.
“In this most recent crisis alone, over one million people have been displaced, even more now face the prospect of famine, and, as the recent UN Mission Human Rights report found, there have been human rights abuses on a massive scale committed by both sides,” he added.
The senior US official further said the signed agreement, presents an opportunity to start a path towards peace that must not be lost.
“We [US] will do all we can to help”, he stressed in the statement.
Violence broke out in the South Sudanese capital, Juba on mid-December last year following disputes within the presidential guards. The fighting which quickly divided the country’s army along ethnic lines with Kiir’s Dinka tribe fighting against Machar’s Nuer has left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced more than 1.3 million.