South Sudan: Warring Factions Agree To Cease Fire

After more than a month of violence, the government of South Sudan has agreed to a cease-fire with rebel forces.
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 23, 2014

The government of South Sudan signed a cease-fire with rebel forces Thursday, halting more than a month of violence that threatened to tear the country apart.

"Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, and nearly half a million civilians forced to flee their homes. The cease-fire is to take effect in 24 hours." (Via CNN)

The New York Times reports the agreement will temporarily halt the fighting between the forces of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and those loyal to Kiir's former-vice-president-turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar.

The announcement comes after three weeks of tense negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia. Talks initially hit a snag after rebels demanded the government release 11 political prisoners.

It's not clear what the cease-fire will mean for those prisoners, but the Sudan Tribune reports an early draft from the negotiations says those prisoners might be pardoned, either now or in a future agreement.

And on the government's official Twitter account, President Kiir said he might grant those prisoners amnesty, but only after a court trial.

South Sudan's foreign minister praised the cease-fire to Voice of America, calling it "important because it will stop the suffering of our citizens. ... With the cessation of hostilities, we will move to see what happens with the humanitarian front."

But former U.S. adviser on Africa Cameron Hudson told the BBC South Sudan's temporary cease-fire is only a fragile peace — the country could soon be plunged back into violence unless a more comprehensive agreement is reached.

"People haven't demobilized, they haven't disarmed, and they haven't walked away from the battle lines that they currently hold. So fighting could re-erupt."

The cease-fire was mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional trading bloc that will oversee implementation.