South Sudan foes sign final power deal

CAIRO: The Arab League welcomed the final agreement signed in Khartoum to share power in the Republic of South Sudan and end the civil war.
“This is an important step in the political will, shown by the conflicting parties to overcome all the points of contention that prevented the achievement of comprehensive peace, the restoration of security and stability and the completion of national reconciliation in southern Sudan,” the Arab League said in its statement.
The Arab League hoped that this agreement would lead to the end of the division and an end to the internal fighting witnessed by southern Sudan over the past five years.
South Sudanese arch-foes signed a final power-sharing deal on Sunday as President Salva Kiir called for unity in a country torn by a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people.
Kiir and his rival Riek Machar were in neighbouring Sudan to sign the deal, under which the rebel leader is set to return to a unity government as the first of five vice-presidents.
The deal, which paves the way to a final peace accord aimed at ending the war in the world’s youngest country, was signed in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and his counterparts from Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti, along with foreign diplomats.
Once a final peace deal is signed, the foes will have three months to form a transitional government which will then hold power for three years.
The talks come as part of a regional push aimed at achieving peace in South Sudan, which plunged into a devastating conflict just two years after its independence from Sudan.
“The agreement we have just signed today must map the end of conflict and war in our country,” Kiir
said in a speech in English after signing the deal.
“We should… rededicate ourselves to unite our people and work for peaceful transfer of power through the ballot boxes rather than through bullets.”
Machar urged the regional east African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is pushing the latest peace talks, to ensure that the deal is implemented.
“I would urge… IGAD to focus after this on the implementation of the agreement,” Machar said in his address.
“Somebody said that the devil sometimes is embedded in the implementation.”
South Sudan’s nearly five-year conflict began after Kiir accused his then vice-president Machar of plotting a coup against him in 2013.
Kiir and Machar’s factions have already agreed on a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of their forces from urban areas, in the latest talks hosted by Bashir.
The power-sharing deal lays out a plan for a 35-minister transitional government including 20 Kiir allies and nine backers of Machar, along with representatives of other rebel factions.
The parliament will be comprised of 550 lawmakers, including 332 from Kiir’s group and 128 from Machar’s faction. Kiir warned that the bloated size of the government would pose a challenge.
“See the size of the parliament, see the size of the cabinet. How do you pay them?” he said, adding that he was concerned about how to provide accommodation, offices and vehicles to new officials. — Agencies