A new agreement between the government of President Salva Kiir and representatives of the rebel movement SPLA/IO, led by Riek Machar has been signed. The accord, signed in Kampala (Uganda) on Sunday, June 4, establishes a ceasefire in Yei , which has been affected by deadly conflict for months. This measure marks an attempt to restart peace talks to end the ongoing civil war. However, many view these latest developments with skepticism as significant issues remain unresolved and rebel groups appear divided. Riek Machar’s followers are reportedly not recognizing the agreement, nor recognizing the authority of the spokesperson who signed it, who may have acted without Machar’s approval.
The main points of the agreement entail a permanent ceasefire, the immediate opening of roads to ensure the free movement of persons, goods, and services, a rapid and voluntary return of South Sudanese refugees from neighboring countries, and the integration of SPLA/IO militants into the national army.
President Kiir had already announced unilateral ceasefires on March 27 and again on May 22.
A power struggle between President Kiir and Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013, leading to tens of thousands of deaths. The conflict has pitted Kiir's Dinka ethnic group against Machar's Nuers. Other ethnic groups have also created militias that have allied with one side or the other, creating a complex network of opposing sides. Fighting intensified in the summer of 2016, especially in Yei state, resulting in thousands of people fleeing the area. The number of South Sudanese citizens displaced by the conflict currently stands at some 3.5 million.
Most Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place and maintain a low profile at all times as criminals may target foreigners due to their perceived affluence.