South Sudan: will 'permanent' ceasefire hold?
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival and former vice president Riek Machar, now leader of the SPLM-IO rebels, met in the Sudanese capital Khartoum June 27 to sign a "permanent" ceasefire agreement, pledging to form an inclusive transitional government. The parties agreed to open humanitarian corridors, release detainees, withdraw troops and militarily disengage. The agreement calls on the African Union and the regional bloc IGAD to deploy protection forces and monitors to observe the ceasefire implementation. The transitional government is to form a national army and security forces not linked to tribalism, and to collect weapons from the populace. The parties also agreed to immediately start work to resume oil production at sites in Unity state (Blocks 1,2 and 4) and Tharjiath (Block 5), which have for years been paralyzed by the conflict.
However, the challenges for the 36-month transition period are great. Millions in South Sudan are on the brink of famine, and more than 2.5 million have fled the country. Hundreds of thousands more—mostly members of minority ethnic groups—are internally displaced, with many sheltering in camps administered by the United Nations. Previous efforts at a negotiated peace have broken down. (Sudan Tribune, Al Jazeera, NYT)