Abuja (Nigeria) – Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has expressed hope that the conflict in South Sudan may come to an end soon.
Osinbajo made the statement after signing as witness to a peace deal between South Sudan warring factions in Addis Ababa IGAD-PLUS summit.
“I am excited that this might be the end of the mystery that has engulfed South Sudan thus far,” Osinbajo said
Osinbanjo represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the summit and spoke after a long drawn, last ditch diplomatic effort that produced an agreement initialed by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit and fully signed by the leader of the warring faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar.
Also, one of the key leaders of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, signed the peace agreement, representing former political detainees in the South Sudanese conflict. While the South Sudan President is yet to fully sign the agreement, he has promised to conclude consultations on the power-sharing aspect of the agreement and then return to append his full signature very soon, expectedly within weeks.
Other aspects of the agreement fully endorsed include providing access for humanitarian assistance and the cessation of hostilities.
Nigeria’s Vice President was involved in the diplomatic talks that lasted at least two sessions in the Ethiopian capital under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development, IGAD with the addition of a number of other key African countries like Nigeria and international agencies including the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union.
According to Osinbanjo, while addressing the press in Addis Ababa, Nigeria and other stakeholders “should be justifiably proud of today’s achievement.”
He recalled Nigeria’s long standing commitment and involvement regarding Sudan, including the role the country played in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement and the eventual independence of South Sudan in 2011.
He explained that as a regional representative from West Africa and as a member of the African Union, Nigeria is an important member of the IGAD-Plus peace process that drew up the draft agreement.
Expressing the country’s concern alongside others in the IGAD-PLUS, Osinbajo said Nigeria is keen on finding a way to stop the killings, losses and sufferings of the people of South Sudan. He recalled that Nigeria knows how painful such an internal conflict as the one in South Sudan can be having passed through a similar traumatic experience, when the country was plunged into a civil war which lasted three gruesome years.
According to the Osinbanjo, the Addis Ababa suumit has indeed recorded “great progress, “with the fact that the rebel group, has signed the agreement and, the Government of South Sudan has also initialed the document, with the promise to return in fifteen days after consultation, to finalize its agreement.
The summit was hosted by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the chairperson of IGAD-PLUS, and attended by African leaders, including presidents from Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. The United Nations was also represented by the deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, among other international agencies and Africa’s development partners.
Speaking about the agreement at the signing in Addis Ababa, African Union Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma noted that while the final endorsement of the South Sudanese government was still being awaited, “we expect restoration of peace to begin now.” She stated that the guns should be silenced and expressed the hope that “we will no longer hear of th death of innocent people of South Sudan anymore.