ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and the leader of the rebellion against his government, Riek Machar, signed an agreement Friday to resolve the war that has torn their young country apart.
The two sides had signed a cease-fire deal in January, under which they were to negotiate a permanent end to the conflict. But the agreement failed almost immediately. Since the war began almost five months ago, thousands of people have been killed, more than 1 million have been displaced, and international officials now warn that a famine may loom.
The talks Friday, which took place in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, brought the two men, whose political rivalry set off the war, face to face for the first time since the conflict erupted. The negotiations came at a time of growing international pressure on both sides. This week, the United Nations issued a report that documented atrocities by both parties, and the Obama administration imposed sanctions on two individuals, one from each side.
“By me signing today this agreement, I’m sending a signal that this war must be ended peacefully,” Machar said. “I hope the other side will also be serious.”
In his remarks, Kiir said, “We’re not here to bear witness of what we have done in our country, whether you’re on the wrong side or you are on the right side.”
In the agreement signed Friday, both sides recognized that “there is no military solution to the crisis in South Sudan and that sustainable peace can be achieved only through inclusive political dialogue,” the negotiators announced.
The parties agreed “to immediately cease all hostile activities within 24 hours” of the signing of the agreement, and they committed themselves to refrain from any provocative action until the signing of a permanent cease-fire. The parties also agreed that a transitional government of national unity was the best way out of the crisis. However, the agreement made no comment about who would be part of it.