World

South Sudan's President, Rebel Leader Reach Peace Agreement

During their first face-to-face meeting in months, President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar reached a peace deal to end the ethnic violence.

South Sudan's President, Rebel Leader Reach Peace Agreement
Flickr / European Commission DG ECHO

It’s been five long months of ethnic violence in the world’s youngest nation.

Now, South Sudan’s president has signed a peace deal with the country's rebel leader in hopes of bringing an end to the unrest. The fighting began in December when  President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup against him. (Via Euronews) 

The army split into two factions —  pitting members of Kiir’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group. (Via Voice of America / Hannah McNeishWikimedia Commons / Jenny Rockett)

The conflict quickly escalated — leaving more than a thousand people dead and more than a million displaced. The United Nations has since warned the country is on the brink of famine. (Via UNICEF)

The UN recently accused both the South Sudanese government and rebel forces of crimes against humanity "on a massive scale."

The two sides had reached a ceasefire back in January, but within days the truce had fallen apart and the fighting resumed. (Via Voice of America

Friday’s meeting in Ethiopia of the two leaders marked their first face-to-face meeting since the clashes began in December. (Via KTN

Businessweek quotes the deal’s mediator who said the agreement calls both sides to "cease all hostile activities within 24 hours,” and to begin discussing a  “transitional government of national unity.”

In addition to an immediate truce, the agreement also calls for a new constitution and elections to be held. While the U.S. praised the agreement as a possible breakthrough, others, as Al Jazeera reports, are skeptical it will do much good. 

CORRESPONDENT: “The body language of the two men had many worried. There were no handshakes, no smiles, no reaching out each other.” 

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 following Africa's longest-running civil war. An estimated two million people died after two decades of conflict.