South Sudan's Salva Kiir, Riek Machar order ceasefire

President Salva Kiir (left) and rebel chief Riek Machar. AFP PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • President Kiir ordered the entire army "to stop shooting and remain in their barracks where they are".
  • Mr Machar has said the reservations cast "doubts" on the government's commitment.


South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have ordered their troops to cease fighting as part of a peace agreement.

The full ceasefire takes effect Saturday but the two told their troops they can shoot in self defence if attacked.

President Kiir ordered the entire army "to stop shooting and remain in their barracks where they are, but they can shoot in self-defence once attacked," spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told AFP on Friday.

He on Wednesday signed the peace deal aimed at ending the 20-month long civil war in which tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered.

The accord, already signed by Mr Machar, gave a 72-hour deadline for a permanent ceasefire, which comes into effect around sunset on Saturday.

Mr Machar ordered the SPLM/SPLA forces to “to cease fire in the country as of midnight 29th August 2015. All forces are to remain alert in their current positions and act only in self defence or respond upon aggression.”

The United Nations Security Council had on Friday called for the ceasefire to begin immediately and threatened sanctions against those who undermine the accord.


Late on Thursday, rebels accused the army of attacking their positions in the northern battleground state of Unity. The army did not respond, but has previously dismissed rebel claims as lies, or accused them of launching attacks.

Facing the threat of international sanctions, President Kiir signed the deal but annexed a list of reservations that he said would have to be addressed for the deal to take hold in the world's newest nation.

Mr Machar has said the reservations cast "doubts" on the government's commitment.

The Security Council had given President Kiir until September 1 to get fully behind the agreement or face possible sanctions, and the United States has circulated a draft resolution that would impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on those who undermine peace efforts.

Two powerful rebel generals, Peter Gadet and Gathoth Gatkuoth, split from Mr Machar earlier this month, accusing him of seeking power for himself.

The government has said the split is a key reason they doubt the peace deal can be effective. Mr Ateny said rebels must also stop fighting.

"We expect also Riek Machar to do the same with his forces," Mr Ateny said, but added that as rebels were "no longer one entity", it "remains to be seen how Machar will control his forces".

The signed deal gives the rebels the post of first vice president, which means that Mr Machar would likely return to the job he was sacked from in July 2013, an event which put the country on the path to war later that year.

Fighting erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir accused Mr Machar of planning a coup, unleashing a wave of killings that split the country along ethnic lines. At least seven ceasefires have already been agreed and then shattered within days or even hours.

Over two million people have fled their homes from a war marked by ethnic killings, gang rapes and child soldier recruitment. Some 200,000 terrified civilians are sheltering inside UN bases.

Under the peace deal, a "transitional government of national unity" will take office within three months.


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