(Breaking News) – The rivaling parties in South Sudan have signed a new peace agreement, but president Kiir will only sign within 15 days while he remains having reservations, the mediators told the press. Radio Tamazuj reported a new peace agreement as IGAD announced initially, but in stead only the Secretary General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum on behalf of the former detainees, and the former vice-president Riek Machar on behalf of the SPLM in Opposition have signed. President Salva Kiir did not sign the agreement himself. According to IGAD sources as he might sign only within 15 days.
The mediator says that the ‘signing is a great stride in peace process in South Sudan’ and he was grateful for Kiir ‘witnessing’ signing. It has become uncertain what the impact of the agreement will remain as the main party now has not committed to the peace deal.
It is the second official peace agreement since the civil war started in December 2013. The parties also signed twice a renewal of Cessation of Hostilities but none of the parties kept the deal.
South Sudanese government announced on Sunday its readiness to sign a new version of the IGAD mediators, though Kiir himself explained his reservation before leaving Juba. The final agreement has not been published. In the latest version of the peace deal, Machar will not have a clear majority anymore in the three states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei contrary to the first draft.
It is unclear how long the armies of the SPLM headed by president and the troops of Riek Machar will remain separated. Some diplomats mentioned 12 months from signing, but several divisions of the opposition have announced separation from Machar. So it will remain unclear how the agreement will be implemented.
Earlier today Kiir and Machar had both left the face to face negotiation table. It had been reported that Kiir was in consultation with Kenyan president Uhuru. Both leaders have been consulting with their own delegations. Observers at the peace talks say the body language of both Salva Kiir and Riek Machar and the walking out of Sudanese president Bashir and Ugandese president Museveni are not good signs. Igad is expected to hold a press conference shortly.
(UPDATE 12.30) Mediators say President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and his political rival are expected to sign a peace agreement in Ethiopia on Monday. Haile Michael, a spokesman for a regional bloc mediating the talks, said Kiir and Machar will sign what he called a “compromise document”. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had earlier posted on Twitter images of the two men taking part in IGAD-led talks late Sunday ahead of the Monday deadline.
President Salva Kiir arrived yesterday later than scheduled at peace negotiations in Addis Ababa for talks with his rival Riek Machar ahead of a summit of East African IGAD bloc leaders today. Kiir’s presence in Addis Ababa came less than two days after he canceled the planned trip over concerns that rebel factions slated to participate in Monday’s talks had split apart and would not present a united front.
During a press conference earlier on Sunday, Salva Kiir stated that it is not possible to get a lasting peace without the participation of all the South Sudanese opposition factions. Last week a group of senior rebel officers, including Peter Gatdet have defected from the SPLA/IO. Kiir said that without taking governments comments on the inclusion of all opposition parties into account, the government can not sign the agreement.
Ahead of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on 17 August, Minister for Africa, Grant Shapps, said that he urged South Sudan’s leaders to reach agreement at the IGAD Summit to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people. He stated that if this opportunity is not seized by South Sudan’s government and opposition we would need to consider other options, including the African Union’s earlier call for targeted sanctions and a UN arms embargo.
The so-called ‘IGAD PLUS’ mediators have been pushing Kiir and Machar to sign a deal on 17 August, saying that a failure to meet this deadline could result in the imposition of sanctions. Speaking to journalists, Cabinet Minister Martin Elia Lomuro confirmed that Kiir traveled to Addis Ababa after receiving encouragement and assurances from the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that he should go to the peace talks
However, other high level government sources indicated that Kiir resolved during recent meetings with other officials in Juba not to sign the IGAD ‘Compromise Proposal’, owing to objections to the demilitarization of Juba, the time frame for reintegration of rebel forces and the power-sharing provisions at the state level.
Sources indicated that the president would be more favorably disposed toward a version of the peace proposal discussed at a more recent Kampala summit on August 10th. However, in a recent press statement, Riek Machar criticized the revisions reportedly made in Kampala.
The Kampala version of the proposal has not been made available to the press.