South Sudan Government, Rebels Agree to Ceasefire

A truce is supposed to end more than five weeks of fighting but may not be respected by all rebel factions.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan in Juba, July 9, 2011
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan in Juba, July 9, 2011 (USAID/ Jenn Warren)

Representatives of South Sudan’s government agreed to a ceasefire with rebels on Thursday, ending more than five weeks of fighting in Africa’s youngest country.

The agreement, which came after weeks of talks in neighboring Ethiopia, calls for an immediate end to military operations and freezes forces in the “place they are in.”

It follows the government’s retaking of Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, earlier this week. Government forces were joined by troops from Uganda to reclaim the oil-producing provinces in the north.

South Sudan’s daily output of 245,000 barrels of oil supplies almost all government revenues and hard currency to buy food and other imports.

Fighting erupted in South Sudan, which seceded from the Arab north in July 2011, between troops local to President Salva Kiir and those backing his former vice president, Riek Machar, in December. Kiir had dismissed Machar after accusing him of plotting a coup.

Making the ceasefire hold could test Machar whose forces are not under a unified command. Some may not feel bound by the truce, especially as the conflict has turned along ethnic fault lines, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer people.

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