After half a decade of civil war, peace is coming to South Sudan. At a regional summit on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, leaders President Salva Kiir and Vice President (VP) and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy presided over the momentous event. Along with other delegates in attendance applauding the proceedings were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
The two had signed a power sharing and ceasefire deal in Sudan’s capital Khartoum at the beginning of last month, a feat that brought as much hope to citizens as the day South Sudan celebrated its independence from the rest of Sudan in 2011.
It took only two years before it all fell apart. This was the result of President Kiir giving his entire cabinet the boot and accusing his second in command at the time, Machar, of trying and failing to overthrow him in a coup. This power struggle between the president and former VP resulted in the birth of the top rebel group in South Sudan led by Machar and, subsequently, Africa’s longest civil war.
Thousands upon thousands of people lost their lives and more than four million were displaced. South Sudan’s economy crashed as it banked on its natural resource – crude oil. Following the signing of the peace deal, South Sudan agreed to pumped oil to Sudan.
Many ceasefire agreements between these two parties had been signed before, however they all disintegrated within months. This time President Kiir ensured the nation there would be a difference as this deal was not instigated by external forces and accords.
Machar returned to office as the top VP out of five and they are already more than a month into the three they have to construct a transitional government. This government will remain in power for three years. Both leaders have expressed their wish for the implementation of this deal which will serve to not only bring peace to the country, but also unity to the people.