UN hails South Sudan peace deal, pledges support

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The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) David Shearer has hailed the pact signed by South Sudan rival factions to restore peace in the country and form a unity government.

Shearer said the “deal is a big step forward in terms of bringing peace in South Sudan,” urging the country’s leaders to ensure security for all citizens and resolve other issues such as economic humanitarian policies and programmes.

“What it has as yet to do — and the negotiations are ongoing — is how are they going to organize the security on the ground for all of those people, and how is the army going to be reformed: how are they going to bring the fighting groups into the same army?” he noted.

President Salva Kiir together with his chief rival and former deputy, Riek Machar, signed the deal on Sunday in neighbouring Sudan, alongside members of other opposition factions.

Kiir retained his position as president of the country, with Machar taking up the first vice president post. The new government will have five vice presidents.

South Sudan has been at war since December 2013, following a feud between President Kiir and his then deputy Machar. Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup against his rule, accusations the latter denied but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

The war has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions others, prompting the UN to rank South Sudan as Africa’s biggest refugee crisis.

Shearer pledged the agency’s support for South Sudan in the quest to ensure lasting peace.

“Our job in the UN is to be as supportive as we possibly can to this agreement,” he stated.

“There’s only one agreement on the table. It’s this one. And we’ve got to try and make this work,” he added.

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