AFRICANGLOBE – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar said Monday (October 20th) they accepted mutual responsibility for a 10-month conflict in which thousands were killed.
“The parties acknowledge a collective responsibility for the crisis in South Sudan that has taken a great toll on the lives and property of our people,” said the deal signed by Kiir and his sacked former deputy Machar.
The talks in Arusha follow an invitation from Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who also has met separately with both leaders.
It was the first time the bitter rivals had met since signing a ceasefire agreement in August in Ethiopia, which like three previous agreements swiftly collapsed.
Political and military leaders have repeatedly broken promises made under international pressure, including visits to South Sudan by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
This time the two South Sudanese leaders said the now divided ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), should be reunited. The SPLM brought the country independence after a long war with Khartoum.
“A divided SPLM will automatically fragment the country along ethnic and regional fault lines,” the deal said, calling for “genuine and honest dialogue that puts the interest of the people and the nation above all”.
Kiir vowed commitment to “the peaceful resolution of the crisis” in the impoverished but oil rich nation, which is three years old yet riven by war.
“There is no reason for our people to suffer again after independence,” he said. Machar also said he wanted this deal to last.
“We do not want this opportunity to go away like other opportunities before,” he said. “We shall do our utmost to see that this process can be completed.”
A third SPLM faction — senior leaders imprisoned for months after war broke out in December, but also not allied to Machar — signed the same deal to unite the party.