Ceasefire Signed in South Sudan

Government signed a cessation of hostilities with rebel opposition to end fighting within 24 hours

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Andreea Campeanu / Reuters

A baby sleeps next to a woman in a Catholic church in Malakal, South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.

Updated at 1:23pm, Jan. 23

South Sudan’s government and opposition signed an agreement Thursday in Ethiopia that will end fighting within 24 hours.

A mediator and rebel spokesman involved in the negotiations between South Sudan’s government and a rebel opposition led by sacked vice president Riek Machar¬†said¬†earlier that both parties would sign a temporary ceasefire before the end of the day, Reuters reports.

A major sticking point for the rebels had been the release of 11 political prisoners who were detained by President Salva Kiir’s loyalists for the attempted coup. The demand was later dropped as a precondition to a ceasefire, but both the government and opposition said it would be discussed separately.

The ceasefire brings to an end violence that first flared five weeks ago, after Kiir accused his ex-deputy Machar, who was ousted over the summer, of planning a coup. Although Machar denied the allegation, his forces took up arms against government troops and the battle quickly descended into the worst violence seen there since South Sudan broke from Sudan in July 2011.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict and at least 500,000 people have been displaced.

[AFP]

This post has been updated to include reports of the agreement signed today.