South Sudanese arch-foes signed a final power-sharing deal on Sunday, aimed at ending a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the world’s youngest country.
President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival Riek Machar were in neighbouring Sudan to sign the deal, under which the rebel leader is set to return to a unity government as the first of five vice presidents, an AFP correspondent there reported.
The deal, which paves the way to a final peace accord, was signed in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his counterparts from Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti, along with foreign diplomats.
Once a final peace deal is signed, the foes will have three months to form a transitional government under the new format, which will then hold power for a further 36 months.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta has decided that further negotiations will continue in Khartoum and not in Nairobi,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed said in English at Sunday’s signing ceremony.
The talks come as part of a regional push aimed at achieving peace in the country, which plunged into a devastating conflict just two years after its independence from Sudan.
South Sudan’s nearly five-year conflict began after Kiir accused his then-vice president Machar of plotting a coup against him in 2013.
The rival groups have already agreed on a permanent ceasefire and withdrawing of their forces from civilian areas, in talks mediated by Khartoum in series of dialogues hosted by Bashir.
The power-sharing deal stipulates that there will be 35 ministers in the bloated transitional government, including 20 Kiir allies and nine backers of Machar along with representatives of other rebel factions.