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UN chief welcomes reunification accord between South Sudan’s rival factions

January 23, 2015 (JUBA) – The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon has welcomed the signing of a peace deal between opposition factions in South Sudan, calling for the accord’s immediate implementation, as well as the commitment of the country’s leaders to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the ongoing conflict.

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UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon meets with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (Photo courtesy of the UN)

In a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, Ban welcomed the agreement signed on 21 January by South Sudan’s warring parties in Arusha, Tanzania.

“He calls for its immediate implementation, particularly the recommitment of president Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement, and encourages the signatories to resolve the leadership issues of the SPLM,” his spokesperson said.

The UN chief reminded parties that time is running out, urging them to take advantage of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit, set for later this year, to reach a final agreement to resolve the conflict, including power-sharing arrangements and measures to address its root causes and ensure accountability.

The three SPLM factions signed an agreement seeking to reunify the rank and file of its leadership and membership, pledging to work together to secure reforms and national unity.

The accord, dubbed the Agreement on the Reunification of the SPLM, serves as a roadmap towards ending the violent conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted millions others from their homes when political debates on reforms within the ruling party turned violent.

The deal, which was signed by Kiir, Machar, representatives of the former SPLM detainees and former cabinet minister Deng Alor in the presence of Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete seeks to address the root causes of the intra-party conflict, which plunged the country into crisis on 15 December 2013

Political in-fighting between president Kiir and Machar turned into a fully fledged conflict that has seen nearly 100,000 civilians seek protection at UN bases across the country.

The crisis has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people and placed more than seven million at risk of hunger and disease.

The reunification accord has acknowledged that the SPLM had a loss of vision and direction and had failed to “institutionalise and democratise the exercise of power in the party”, with the agreement calling for immediate measures to rectify the situation.

The deal also stipulated the restructure of party organs and its leadership, as well as a review of the basic documents which were passed on 14 December 2013 by president Kiir’s faction amid a walk-out by Machar’s supporters on the same day.

Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) mediated the deal, which was also supported by other regional leaders.

A ceasefire signed in January has never been effective, despite the principal leaders signing documents committing themselves to fully honour and implement various accords, some of which were signed under international and regional pressure amid threats of further sanctions and isolation from the international community.