Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

S. Sudan army, rebel forces hold first meeting to strengthen peace

South Sudan’s military and rebel forces have held talks around the capital Juba in an effort to forge unity and strengthen implementation of a recent peace deal.

Salva Kiir
Salva Kiir

Top commanders of the South Sudan people’s defence forces and the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) on Tuesday discussed ways of ending hostilities, state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation reported.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO deputy military spokesperson also confirmed that the two parties agreed to allow free movement of army personnel, civilians and humanitarian agencies in their respective territories.

Gabriel added that the two armies also agreed to take full responsibility for any criminal activity that may occur in territories under their control.

“The SPLA-IO applauds the courage of both teams who showed that peace is a priority at the moment in South Sudan, not political differences. Wish all South Sudanese the best. Peace!” said Gabriel.

There was no immediate comment from the military spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital, Juba in July 2016.  Under a new peace deal signed in September this year, former vice president and opposition leader Riek Machar will once again be reinstated as President Salva Kiir’s deputy. – Xinhua