The warring factions in South Sudan have agreed to a ceasefire while committing themselves to work for lasting peace in the country following a summit in Rome. Source: The Tablet.
By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet
Representatives from the government and the various opposition parties signed the deal at the headquarters of the Sant’Egidio Community, the Catholic humanitarian group which is helping to broker a truce between the parties.
The news raises hopes that Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury will make their joint visit to the country. The planned trip has been pushed back on several occasions due to security fears and the ongoing conflict in the country.
According to the declaration the political parties agreed to put down their weapons from midnight on Wednesday, pledged to abide by the December 2017 ceasefire agreement and to allow humanitarian organisations access to the country. Sant’Egidio will continue to mediate talks in the hope of finding a workable political settlement.
War and famine have ravaged the world’s youngest state since 2011, with the conflict fuelled by deep-rooted tribal, ethnic and political tensions.
The Rome declaration is a landmark moment because it includes opposition parties who did not sign up to a September 2018 peace deal in Addis Ababa, the accord which provides the framework for forming a government of national unity. Those who did not sign in 2018 have been treated as peace spoilers by many South Sudanese leaders and parts of the international community.
“The whole political family of South Sudan was there,” Mauro Garofalo, the head of international relations for Sant’Egidio, said when talking about the Rome deal. “This is an important first step.”
Mr Gaurofalo said the declaration was a response to the retreat led by Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby in the Vatican last April. It ended in dramatic fashion with the Pope bending down to kiss the feet of the South Sudanese leaders in an appeal for them to pursue a peace agreement.
South Sudan ceasefire agreed in Rome (The Tablet)