World Bulletin/News Desk
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, whose respective forces are currently engaged in fierce fighting, signed a peace deal on Friday that aims to end the conflict that has raged in the nascent country since last December.
Under the deal, a ceasefire will go into effect within 24 hours while aid agencies and the United Nations will be given unconditional access to the areas most affected by the conflict.
The deal also calls for the formation of a transitional government that would pave the way for consultations over the formation of a permanent government. A permanent constitution should also be drafted, according to the deal's terms.
After signing the agreement, Kiir asserted the commitment of both the government and army to the deal, which he said, promised to end a "dark chapter" of South Sudan's history.
Dialogue, he stressed, remained the only way to end the crisis.
Machar, for his part, expressed satisfaction with the deal, saying the conflict "should never have happened."
He, too, vowed to adhere to the terms of the deal and redouble efforts to achieve peace in the country.
"Only a political solution will end the crisis; serious dialogue is key to ending differences in the ruling party," he said.
The agreement was also hailed by Seyoum Mesfin, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)'s special envoy to the South Sudan peace talks, and Gary Quince, head of the European Union's delegation to the African Union.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, meanwhile, who called the meeting, likewise welcomed the deal with "a sense of relief and guarded optimism."
He also commended the rival leaders for "taking the right path."
The signing of the deal came after Kiir and Machar held their first tête-à-tête since the conflict between them erupted last December.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused Machar of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some one million South Sudanese have been displaced as a result of the violence.
In January, the two sides signed an IGAD-mediated cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Mayıs 2014, 10:00