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South Sudanese welcome signing of power-sharing deal with joy

JUBA (Xinhua) -- It was all ululation and jubilation in Juba as South Sudanese nationals welcomed the signing of the revitalized power-sharing pact by warring parties on Sunday night, saying the deal will end the more than four years of strife in the country.

Thousands of jovial Juba residents seized the occasion and took to the streets immediately after the peace deal was inked in Khartoum earlier in the day.

“Today, I am overjoyed because peace has finally been restored in our country and we are now going march forward and build our nation,” Mary Ajith expressed her great excitement and feeling of joy to Xinhua.

She said that it has been her wish to see the warring parties reach the deal to end the conflict that has worsened poverty in the country.

Hordes of residents gathered in Juba carrying the flags of South Sudan as they sang and danced the night away around the capital city that had been under years of curfew since the conflict broke out in December 2013.

Another jubilant citizen, who only identified himself as Deng, said all he wanted was peace and unity of all the South Sudanese people.

“Our country ought to be inclusive and transparent to all. I believe we have learned a lot from meaninglessly killing each other,” Deng said as he chanted “Peace! Peace! Peace!”

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader and arch-rival, Riek Machar, signed a revitalized agreement to end the civil strife that would see the latter reinstated as first vice president after serving a two-year house arrest in South Africa.

The agreement was signed collectively by the two leaders as well as all political parties in South Sudan, signaling their desire to end the conflict that has caused a lot of suffering and displacement of people.

The agreement outlines guidelines on power sharing and governance, including settling boundary disputes which will be guided by a Boundary Commission and provides for an avenue for the people of South Sudan to participate in a referendum if need be to settle those disputes.

Kiir pledged to incorporate warring factions into the government after he met with Machar and an alliance of opposition leaders.

The deal which was inked in Sudan will lead to the formation of a unity government which will run for three years in South Sudan.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir who hosted the talks said South Sudan peace agreement will not just be ‘ink on paper’, saying more sessions will sketch out details and timetables for implementation of the signed peace deal.

He pointed out that his government had taken a decisive decision to implement the 2005 peace agreement signed with the SPLM movement that eventually led to South Sudan’s independence from the north for the sake of peace.

Meanwhile, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the peace process will continue in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, instead of Nairobi as decided by East African leaders.

“We have agreed with my brother President Bashir that let us continue with this negotiations right here in Khartoum,” he said after the signing of the deal.

Kenyatta appealed to the political leadership in South Sudan to secure the future of the region by commencing implementation of the Agreement.

“Informed by our shared and common experiences and grounded in a long history of solidarity between Kenya and South Sudan, I urge each and every leader to leverage the diversity of South Sudan and harness it to build strong and responsible structures that respond effectively to the needs of the people,” he added.

Kenyatta paid tribute to Al-Bashir for hosting the current phase of the peace process that has yielded promising results for South Sudan and the region.

Kenya has been a key participant amongst other IGAD states in the process of bringing peace and stability in South Sudan driven by the belief that peace and stability in the young nation heralds prosperity for the whole region.

South Sudan’s conflict that has now entered its fifth year erupted in 2013 after forces loyal to Kiir and his former deputy engaged in combat.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when rival factions resumed fighting in the capital, Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile.

Millions of South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in neighboring countries as the conflict rages on despite attempts by international players to end it.


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