South Sudan President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar agreed Wednesday to a “permanent” ceasefire to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of a deal to end their country’s devastating war.
“All parties have agreed on a permanent ceasefire within 72 hours,” Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed announced following talks in the Sudanese capital.
Kiir and Machar then signed the document, called the “Khartoum Declaration,” in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
“This day was expected by our people in South Sudan and it has now come,” Kiir said after the signing of the agreement.
Machar said the ceasefire must finally lead to the “ending of the war”.
The latest push for peace in South Sudan comes as part of a fresh bid launched by East African leaders and with the two factions facing a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.
Several previous ceasefire agreements have been violated.
“We offer this agreement as a gift to South Sudanese citizens,” Bashir said. “This agreement says that peace has started to return to South Sudan.”
The declaration, a copy of which was made available to AFP, stipulates that the ceasefire arrangement includes disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of all allied troops, opening of humanitarian corridors, and the release of prisoners of war and political detainees.
The agreement also allows members of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) — an East African regional grouping that has been pushing peace efforts — to deploy forces to supervise the ceasefire.