ARUSHA, Tanzania, Jan 22 – South Sudan peace talks got a major breakthrough as rival factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed an agreement aimed at reunifying the historical party.
Intense efforts spearheaded by regional leaders – which saw the Arusha meeting get into late night hours – marks a turning point in the bloody conflict.
The signing ceremony at Ngurdoto Hotel in Arusha was witnessed by an array of regional leaders including host President Jakaya Kikwete, President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), and South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former vice President Riek Machar and Deng Alor Kuol signed the historic agreement.
The agreement which was signed during the SPLM Intra-Party Dialogue Summit puts the young African nation back on the path of peace and development.
Among the issues agreed by both parties is the restoration of peace and stability in South Sudan and, and the demand for SPLM leadership to make a public apology to the people of Sudan for all the atrocities.
Under the signed agreement, the SPLM party leadership is required to reform and transform the political party by formulating and embracing policies that allow the culture of tolerance and ideals of democracy to take root.
SPLM leadership is also urged to formulate and implement policies that will abolish tribalism, sectarianism and militarism in political life and open up space for achieving a political environment that promotes genuine political pluralism.
The agreement calls on those who may have participated in atrocities during the conflict not to be allowed to hold public offices in South Sudan.
The SPLM leaders agreed to implement and comply with all provisions of the cessation of hostilities and use the Arusha Intra-Party Dialogue and IGAD mediation process in Addis Ababa to expedite the conclusion of the peace agreement in order to end the war.
The South Sudan political party leadership is also required to develop and implement a comprehensive programme for national unity, peace, reconciliation, healing and to promote harmony amongst the people of South Sudan.
The three factional SPLM groups are demanded to embrace reunification and reconciliation of the party leadership and membership.
The SPLM general secretariat shall be structured and reorganized in order to streamline its offices and functions to ensure efficiency and effectiveness benefiting from experiences of sisterly parties and Liberation Movements.
The agreement also demands that the National Liberation Council (NLC) shall revisit and review the contentious provisions, in the draft SPLM constitution to ensure internal democracy within party structures, before its presentation to the National Convention.
Other recommendations of the agreement include a requirement for the Political Bureau to develop a party leadership code of ethics and disciplinary procedures to be applied and upheld by all members irrespective of their positions.
In the agreement the term-limit for the SPLM national and state chairpersons of the party shall be two terms of 5 years each only.
The reunified SPLM shall abide by the terms and spirit of the IGAD Peace Agreement and that it recognizes the need for the establishment of a transitional government in which all SPLM groups and other political parties shall participate proportionally so as to end the war and establish sustainable peace.