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South Sudan peace parties sign Khartoum Declaration of Agreement


June 27, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - South Sudanese parties Wednesday signed the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, where they committed themselves to a permanent ceasefire and pledged to finalize a deal on the pending issues in the governance chapter of the 2015 peace agreement.

The deal also paves the way for an economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan as the South Sudanese political leaders accept a joint collaboration between the two countries for the exploitation of the main source of income.

The deal was signed by President Salva Kiir and the leader of the main opposition group SPLM-IO Riek Machar and the representatives of the other opposition political groups among important diplomatic presence and media coverage.

In line with the declaration of principles, the peace partners agree to silence definitively their guns throughout the country within 72 hours based on the cessation of hostilities of December 2017.

Further within three days of the signing of Khartoum document resolve the outstanding issues in the security arrangements that they failed to settle during the peace revitalization forum in Addis Ababa.

Until the 30 June "the parties shall agree on all the ceasefire arrangements including disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of allied troops, opening of humanitarian corridors, and release of prisoners of war and political detainees," says the declaration.

In his speech before the IGAD head of states and governments on Thursday 21 June, the Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais said there are four issues in the security arrangements where the parties failed to reach a compromise.

"There remain four key areas of disagreement on the security arrangements including determination of demilitarized areas; modalities and exemption from cantonment; timeframe for unification of forces, and the number of parties’ representatives in the Joint Transitional Security Committee," Wais said.

However, the power-sharing or the governance chapter remains the main issue of disagreement because President Salva Kiir rejects that his main rival Machar take part in the transitional government tasked with the political reforms during the 30 coming months.

According to the 27 June agreement, the parties shall strike a deal on the "Revised Bridging Proposal" as soon as possible and before closing the current Khartoum Round of Talks.

However, Machar’s participation is not clearly included in the talks as it was not a problem when the peace agreement was signed in 2015. The issue emerged after the clashes of Jully 2016 in Juba and the resumption of hostilities again.

This is why the Special Envoy Wais requested the IGAD leader to "make a final decision to ensure unimpeded participation of Dr Riek Machar in the peace process".

Khartoum Declaration of Agreement remained silent on this issue. It is not clear if the parties intend to tackle it in the third phase in Nairobi.

President Kiir and SPLM-IO remained silent on this point. Also, Presidents al-Bashir and Museveni didn’t disclose the content of the gentleman agreement reached by the two South Sudanese during a meeting held in their presence in Khartoum on Monday 25 June 2018.

The declaration provides to resume immediately in collaboration with the Sudanese government the rehabilitation of the damaged oil installations in the Unity region, Blocks 1,2, 4 and 5.

The deal does not provide the immediate resumption of oil production because the SPLM-IO rejected this idea saying this step should intervene after the signing of a comprehensive political settlement.

In the draft agreement, Khartoum proposed to repair and protect the installations in coordination with the South Sudanese government and to resume the production which will intervene within several weeks when the discussions are concluded.

Following the end of the two-week process, the parties will travel to Nairobi for the third round of talks on the remaining issues.

(ST)