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UN chief hails South Sudan ceasefire

Posted on May 10 2014 | IANS

United Nations, May 10 : UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed a ceasefire agreement signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

"The secretary-general welcomes the signing in Addis Ababa today (Friday)... of an agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan," Xinhua quoted a statement issued here Friday night by Ban's spokesman as saying.

Ban "demands that the parties immediately translate these commitments into action on the ground, in particular the cessation of all hostilities".

Kiir and Machar inked the ceasefire accord earlier Friday after their first face-to-face meeting in the Ethiopian capital since a war broke out in mid-December last year.

They agreed that a transitional government offered the "best chance" to take the world's youngest country towards elections next year, though there was no immediate decision on who would be part of an interim administration.

Under the agreement, the truce will take effect within 24 hours and both sides agreed to disengage their forces and refrain from any provocative actions.

Friday's meeting was held under the mediation of the regional bloc known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

"The secretary-general commends the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and in particular its chair Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, for its ongoing efforts to mediate a peaceful and sustainable end to the conflict," said the statement.

Violence swept South Sudan since mid-December 2013 after fighting broke out in capital Juba between soldiers loyal to Kiir and forces who sided with Machar, the former vice president.

Fighting has continued in various parts of the country despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement by the main parties to the conflict in January.

In total, 923,000 South Sudanese are displaced within their own country, while more than 293,000 people have become refugees in neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. Some 4.9 million people need humanitarian assistance.

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