S Sudan ceasefire to begin after peace deal between fighting sides
10 May 2014, 15:07 -- A ceasefire between South Sudan's government and rebels was due to come into effect Saturday following a deal to end a brutal five-month war that has pushed the country to the brink of genocide and famine.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, met in the Ethiopian capital on Friday, shook hands and prayed together, and 'agreed that immediately all hostile activities will stop within 24 hours.'
The rivals 'agreed that a transition government offers the best chance to the people of South Sudan' with the promise of fresh elections for the world's youngest nation, said Seyoum Mesfin, head mediator with the East African regional bloc IGAD.
Military officials from both sides said frontlines appeared to be quiet ahead of the deadline to implement the truce, AFP reports.
The peace deal, which followed intense lobbying from world leaders and Washington slapping sanctions on senior military commanders, came amid new reports of war crimes committed by both sides and fears that a wave of ethnic killings could result in genocide.
The war has claimed thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of lives, with more than 1.2 million people forced to flee their homes.
Aid agencies are warning that South Sudan is now on the brink of Africa's worst famine since the 1980s.
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