South Sudan's government has signed a ceasefire deal with rebels in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa that calls for an end to hostilities within 24 hours, mediators said.
The deal would bring an end to five weeks of bitter conflict that has left thousands dead.
The agreement was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa by representatives of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel delegates loyal to former vice president Riek Machar.
Mediators from the East African regional bloc IGAD, which has been brokering the peace talks, said the deal will put in place a verification and monitoring mechanism for the truce.
The latest violence erupted December 15 between forces loyal to Machar, who was sacked in July and who Kiir has accused of plotting a coup, and government troops.
South Sudan's government also agreed to release 11 officials close to Machar who were detained after fighting between rival army units broke out on December 15, although no timeline for their release was given. The status of the detainees had been a major sticking point in the talks.
"These two agreements are the ingredients to create an environment for achieving a total peace in my country," said Taban Deng, head of the rebel delegation.
He said he hoped the deal would "pave the way for a serious national political dialogue aiming at reaching a lasting peace in South Sudan," the world's newest nation which only won independence from Khartoum in 2011.
Government negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial said the negotiations, which have been dragging on in a luxury hotel in Addis Ababa for three weeks, were "not easy".
"We hope to be able to make haste towards an agreement that will end bloodshed," he said, but voiced scepticism over the ability of the rebels, comprised of renegade army units and ethnic militia, to halt their operations.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-01-23