ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Leaders of two warring sides in South Sudan agreed to another peace deal early Saturday after two days of talks convened in an atmosphere of increasing international pressure.
South Sudan descended into violence last December when fighting broke out between soldiers and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar and government loyalists backing President Salva Kiir.
Since then, two peace deals have been signed and quickly discarded as fighting continued — especially around the country's oil installations — forcing more than 1.7 million to flee their homes. Thousands have been killed.
The deal agreed to Saturday may hold more weight because of increasing threats by the U.N. Security Council and leaders of East African countries to impose economic and travel sanctions on South Sudanese leaders.
A statement from the regional body IGAD said that the warring parties commit to an unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities.
Any violation of that deal would invite asset freezes and travel bans from throughout the East African IGAD member states. The IGAD members also reserved the right to directly intervene in the violence and to prevent weapons from transiting through their countries to South Sudan.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who helped broker the talks, said that Kiir has ordered all his forces to remain in their barracks and act only in self-defense if attacked.
One potential stumbling block to the latest peace push is that Machar does not control all of the country's rebel forces.
Humanitarian officials say that South Sudan risks falling into a famine situation next year if the violence doesn't end and people don't return home to plant crops.