World Bulletin / News Desk
The latest attempt to end the four-year civil war saw delegates from the government headed by President Salva Kiir and those representing the opposition of Riek Machar seek to revive a 2015 peace deal.
The agreement was overseen by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Tens of thousands have been killed and a third of the population of 12 million have fled their homes in violence that first erupted in December 2013 when Kiir sacked his deputy Machar.
The cessation of hostilities deal will come into effect on Dec. 24 and calls for the protection of civilians and access for humanitarian organizations. Half the population is in need of aid.
Moussa Faki, chairman of the African Union Commission, who was present at the signing, described it as “just a small first step.”
He told delegates: “The real test of the seriousness of your commitment will reside in your commitment to take practical action.”
Workneh Gebeyehu, chairman of IGAD’s ministerial council, added: “We are sending the South Sudanese a precious Christmas gift.
“There should be no excuse for violation of this cessation of hostilities.”
Previous truces have been broken as the fighting deteriorated to involve several armed groups.
Thursday’s agreement is expected to pave the way for elections, the timing of which will be negotiated in upcoming talks.