By Taddeo Bwambale
The Government of South Sudan and rebels loyal to former vice president, Riek Machar have declared one month of peace to allow delivery of humanitarian supplies.
The one month of tranquility runs from May 7 and June 7, according to a new Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by both parties in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on Monday.
In a statement on Tuesday, the regional body IGAD, which is mediating peace talks between government and the rebels, said the month of peace was also meant to enable residents to plant food and move to areas of safety
The agreement, a copy of which New Vision has seen is signed by Nhial Deng Nhial on behalf of the Government of South Sudan and Gen Taban Deng Gai representing the South Sudan Liberation People’s Army (in opposition).
IGAD special envoys Ambassador Meyoum Mesfin, Gen Lazaro Sumbeywo and Gen Mohamed Ahmed El Dabi are witnesses to the agreement.
Both government and the rebels agreed to open humanitarian corridors (River Nile including Sabot corridor, roads, rail and air) within South Sudan and from neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.
The agreement compels both parties to facilitate humanitarian access and creation of conditions to enable supply of aid to displaced people.
The parties also agreed to ‘take all possible measures to respect human rights and protect the civilian population from indiscriminate attacks, rape or any other form of abuse.’
Laying down arms for one month is one of the terms of, as the next round of peace talks resumed.
The talks are mediated by the regional body, IGAD, in line with resolutions of the 23rd, 24th and 25th Extraordinary Sessions of the IGAD Assembly of States and Government held on December and UN Security Council Resolution 2123 of December 24, 2013.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited South Sudan, days after US Secretary of State, John Kerry travelled to the country to seek commitment of both parties to end fighting.
The US has already slapped its first sanctions on one leader from both parties, in response to the violence that has claimed thousands of people and displaced many.
President Salva Kiir and Machar are set to meet in Addis Ababa on Friday, at the invitation of Ethipia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, who is also chair of the IGAD Assembly.
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South Sudan, rebels declare month of peace