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South Sudan welcomes signing minutes of permanent ceasefire workshop

October 26, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government on Monday welcomed the signing of minutes of the security arrangements by the armed opposition command under the leadership of former vice president, Riek Machar, expressing commitment to continue with discussions in Addis Ababa to find lasting solutions to outstanding issues in the agreement.

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South Sudan’s leader of the government’s delegation Nhial Deng Nhial (L) exchanges a signed ceasefire agreement with the head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai (R) in Addis Ababa, January 23, 2014. ( Photo Reuters/Birahnu Sebsibe)

“Yes, they have signed the minutes and discussions about composition of the joint command are in progress. There has not been conclusion but we hope these discussions will result into something positives,” Peter Bashir Gbandi, deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

“As the government, we are ready to hold more discussions to be able [to] narrow the views,” he further explained.

Gbandi said the signing of the security minutes by the representatives of the armed opposition faction, SPLM-IO, was witnessed by representatives from the government, the former political detainees and members of the mediation team from Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as representative from troika countries.

He revealed that the document was not the final agreement on security arrangements, adding that discussions will now continue until all outstanding issues are addressed. This, he said, is to ensure that dialogue continues between the two sides without collapsing until a solution is found.

Officials of the opposition faction also applauded the signing of the minutes for the proceeding purposes until an agreement is reached.

“The signing of the minutes is a step forward in discussing the sharing of the joint forces in Juba and other state capitals,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

He said the parties would now discuss the sizes and composition of the would-be unified forces, saying this has now been a clear understanding also with the IGAD mediation that the joint forces should be shared equally.

The military commanders representing armed opposition declined in September to sign minutes of the workshop organised by the IGAD on the security arrangements in the transitional period, citing government’s insistence on single-handedly deploying a huge force in the national capital.

The two sides therefore initially failed to reach consensus on the number of organised forces to be deployed in Juba.

The government proposed 5,000 troops from all the organised forces in Juba while the rebels preferred reduction in the number of forces and also to share the unified forces equally.

However, IGAD urged the SPLM-IO to sign the minutes further explaining that the document was the purposes of proceeding, calling on the parties to share joint forces in Juba.