A previous peace deal between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in 2015 was shattered by renewed fighting that erupted in mid-2016 amid mutual recriminations.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar signed a landmark peace agreement in Khartoum on Wednesday with a view to ending the country’s five-year civil war.
With the move, the two warring parties have committed themselves to implement a comprehensive cease-fire within the next three days.
At a signing ceremony held in Khartoum’s presidential palace, Kiir vowed to implement the agreement’s terms.
“I’m happy this agreement could be achieved… all the [relevant] documents were signed today,” Kiir said.
Machar, for his part, said the agreement would give “new hope” to the South Sudanese people.
“I’m sure our people will be happy three days from now,” he said. “Our negotiation teams will continue the talks with a view to resolving all outstanding issues.”
Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, who sponsored the talks, described the agreement as the “real beginning” of peace and stability in war-weary South Sudan.
The deal calls for a yearlong transitional period, to begin within 120 days, that will end with the holding of general elections.
The two parties have also committed themselves to a military stand-down, the release of all prisoners of war and the opening of humanitarian corridors in war-ravaged areas.
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan following a referendum in 2011.
The nascent country plunged into crisis two years later, however, after troops loyal to Kiir clashed with defectors led by Machar, who had served as Kiir’s vice-president.
A peace deal signed in 2015 briefly halted the conflict. But the peace was soon shattered by renewed fighting that erupted in mid-2016 amid mutual recriminations.
Since then, Machar has remained under house arrest in South Africa.
According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.