South Sudan: Rivals agree cease-fire for Christmas Eve
South Sudan’s government and rebel groups have signed a cease-fire agreement during peace talks held in Ethiopia this week.
The agreement was reached on Thursday and will be implemented on Sunday morning – or Christmas Eve. The ceasefire states that all parties will end hostilities, freeze military positions and release all people detained or kidnapped during the conflict.
Christmas Eve ceasefire deal
As part of the agreement, the government and rebel forces also agreed to allow urgent humanitarian access to the areas of South Sudan most affected by the country’s ongoing civil war. Both sides have been accused of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching civilians caught up in the fighting.
After days of negotiations between bitter rivals, an agreement was reached on Wednesday which prompted optimistic responses from international bodies. African Union chairman Moussa Faki called the agreement “an encouraging first step” towards ending South Sudan’s civil war.
While Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Workineh Gebeyehu, described the agreement as a Christmas gift for the people of South Sudan.
“This is a gift to South Sudanese people to celebrate their Christmas and New Year. This is the most precious gift of all time,” Ethiopia’s foreign minister said during the signing ceremony. “But as past experience has shown, implementation is the longer and more difficult aspect. Many critical issues lie ahead.”
Featured image: By USAID Africa Bureau – A young girl hangs the South Sudan flag, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21460264