South Sudan ruling party rivals sign peace deal in Tanzania

by Reuters
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 19:17 GMT

A returning South Sudanese resident rides a motorbike taxi along a dirt road towards Bor, in Jonglei state, December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Jok Solomon

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Fighting erupted in December 2013 after months of rising tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar

By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala

DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 21 (Reuters) - South Sudan's warring factions signed a deal in Tanzania on Wednesday meant to serve as a roadmap toward ending a conflict that has killed thousands of people in the world's newest state, Tanzanian officials said.

Fighting erupted in December 2013 in South Sudan, which had declared independence from Sudan in 2011, after months of rising tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar. A ceasefire signed in January has been broken frequently and the peace talks often stalled.

The agreement, aimed according to its text at "reunifying and reconciling" the three factions of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), was signed in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. It was mediated by regional leaders.

"Congratulations to the SPLM leadership for reaching an agreement to reunify their party for the good of South Sudan," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said via Twitter.

No details of the accord were immediately known.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000, displaced over 1 million people and driven South Sudan closer to famine. Both the European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on commanders on both sides for violating the ceasefire.

The fighting has increasingly followed ethnic lines, with troops loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battling supporters of Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Machar was fired as deputy president in July, sharpening their years of rivalry.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Edith Honan/Mark Heinrich)

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