Progress made, new peace talks on April 22: S. Sudan

The government's chief negotiator said a permanent cessation of hostilities deal would be signed during the new round of talks

The government's chief negotiator said a permanent cessation of hostilities deal would be signed during the new round of talks

JUBA – The South Sudanese chief peace negotiator announced on Sunday that the government and rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar will ink a permanent cessation of hostilities during the upcoming third round of talks in Addis Ababa, scheduled for April 22.

"We agreed on the Declaration of Principles and the signing of a permanent cessation of hostilities," Nhial Deng Nhial told reporters at Juba International Airport.

"The documents have not yet been signed by the two parties and that, I believe, will be the first exercise at the resumption for the third round of talks," he added.

Following weeks of IGAD-sponsored peace talks in Addis Ababa, the two sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January.

Nhial returned home Sunday after two and a half weeks of talks in the Ethiopian capital.

"I am here because the negotiation was adjourned for more consultations," he added.

The chief negotiator said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – the sponsor of the peace talks – agreed to exclude seven former detainees from the third phase of the negotiations.

"The issue of the seven former detainees has been an obstacle," he told reporters.

"We don't want them to be a third party in the talks and now IGAD is willing to exclude them from the third round," Nhial said.

"I think IGAD will reconsider them later but not now because we want the negotiation to be between the warring parties, the government and rebels only," he added.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of attempting to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.

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