ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - South Sudan’s warring parties committed to stop fighting and bring their months-long conflict to an end without conditions, the chief mediator for regional African group IGAD said on Saturday after two days of talks in the Ethiopian capital.
Fighting erupted last December in South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy, Riek Machar.
Seyoum Mesfin told reporters the IGAD bloc had agreed to freeze assets and impose travel bans, among other measures, on any party that violated the agreement.
“The parties commit to an unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities, and to bring the war to an end,” Seyoum said.
Both sides also committed to stop recruiting and mobilizing civilians, Seyoum, a former Ethiopian foreign affairs minister said.
He added that in addition to the asset freezes and travel bans in the region for individuals who violate the agreement, IGAD would stop the supply of arms and ammunition, or any other materials of war to any side that carried on with fighting.
“The IGAD region shall without further reference to the warring parties take the necessary measures to directly intervene in South Sudan to protect life and restore peace and stability,” he said.
The United States delegation to the United Nations has told members of the Security Council it will circulate a draft resolution to establish a “mechanism for targeting individuals” undermining South Sudan’s political stability and abusing human rights, an official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Australia’s U.N. ambassador, Gary Quinlan, president of the
Security Council this month, said his country and several other council members back the idea of making an arms embargo part of any South Sudan sanctions regime. He declined to comment on the timing of any sanctions.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people in the world’s newest state, caused over 1 million to flee and driven the country of 11 million closer to famine.
A ceasefire signed in January has been broken frequently and peace talks have often stalled. Both the European Union and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on commanders on both sides for violating the ceasefire.
IGAD granted the two sides 15 days to conduct consultations, Seyoum said.
Machar, whose Nuer community has been battling Kiir’s Dinka after the conflict took on an ethnic dimension, welcomed the agreement, saying: “We do not want any soldier or any civilian to die again after this progress in Addis Ababa.”
On the other hand, Kiir ordered troops from the national army to stay in their barracks in compliance with the agreement that was brokered by the IGAD bloc, which brings together eight nations in the east and the horn of Africa.
“Should they be attacked from any direction, they should only fight in self defense,” Kiir said.
IGAD has been brokering peace talks between the two rivals in the Ethiopian capital since the outbreak of conflict last year.
The bloc had repeatedly warned the foes as they continuously violated the January ceasefire, indicating growing frustration in a region increasingly concerned that the unrest may escalate into a broader regional conflict.
Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Janet Lawrence and James Dalgleish