South Sudanese rebels ‘approve’ peace deal with government

South Sudanese rebels have approved a peace deal with Juba that is expected to be formally signed at a summit of regional leaders.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, who is mediating the negotiations, said rebels had signed a key document aimed at ending the country’s devastating five-year civil war on Thursday.

“By signing this document today, we have reached the conclusion of these negotiations, which consisted of two rounds, one about the outstanding issues and the other on the subsequent issues,” Ahmed told reporters in Khartoum.

“The final signing of the peace deal will happen at a summit of IGAD,” he added.

Rebel leader Riek Machar had caused anxiety among negotiators on Tuesday by refusing to sign, but the agreement went ahead.

Remaining rebels concerns are expected to be fully addressed later by the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The rebels had differences over the functioning of a proposed transitional government, how many states the country should be divided into, and on the writing of a new constitution.

The peace deal agreed earlier this month allowed for the creation of a transitional government.

“The concerns of these parties will be discussed at IGAD summit,” Ahmed said.

The warring parties have already inked several agreements, including a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing deal that will see Machar return as first vice president.

Years of civil war have left tens of thousands of people dead and millions displaced [AP]

Civil war

Sudan has been instrumental in brokering peace talks between South Sudan’s warring factions.

South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013, shortly after independence in 2011, after President Salva Kiir accused Machar, then his deputy, of plotting a coup.

Years of civil war has left tens of thousands of people dead, and about 4 million South Sudanese have fled the fighting.

Previous agreements have collapsed after warring parties failed to respect them and numerous ceasefires have been broken.

South Sudan resumed pumping 20,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Toma South oilfield last week, where production had been suspended since 2013 due to the civil war.

Income from oil accounts for 98 percent of the country’s budget.

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