South Sudan rivals agree to end war, form interim government

Photo - FNA
South Sudan\’s president and rebel leader have agreed to forge a transitional government within a 60-day deadline in an effort to end six months of conflict in the country.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met on Tuesday on the sidelines of a regional leaders\’ summit organised by the East African regional bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is brokering the slow-moving negotiations.
"They agreed to complete the dialogue process within the coming 60 days on what how, when and who… (for) the formation of the transitional government," Ethiopia\’s Hailemariam Desalegn said, after the rare meeting between Kiir and Machar.
Mediators, frustrated by the failure of previous deals including two ceasefires, threatened tough action if the rivals once again ignore agreements made.
"Any attempt to stand in the way of peace will have consequences," Hailemariam warned.
The crisis in the young nation has already killed thousands and forced more than 1.3 million people from their homes.
Both Kiir and Machar had also agreed to "fully to commit themselves to already signed agreements," Hailemariam said.
"If they don\’t abide to this agreement… IGAD as an organisation will act to implement peace," Hailemariam said, warning of possible "sanctions and punitive actions" without giving further details.
US envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth said the talks offered "the last, best chance for the warring parties to prove their commitment to holding their nation and their people together".
It was the first encounter of the enemies since signing a May 9 ceasefire – broken within hours – and only their second meeting since the civil war began in mid-December.
"The time for military action to change the status quo on the ground has passed. It\’s time now to move forward," Booth said, at the summit opening.
Delegates for Kiir and Machar have been meeting in luxury hotels in the Ethiopian capital since January, with both sides bickering over the agenda and even the venue of discussions.
Previous rounds of peace talks have made little progress and been repeatedly delayed, and have so far cost more than $17m, IGAD officials said.
Source –  AFP and agencies
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