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South Sudan government, rebels to sign peace deal: Mediators

AFP , Thursday 23 Jan 2014
South Sudan
SPLA soldiers stand next to a plane, which will transport SPLA officials to Bentiu in Unity state, in Juba airport January 12, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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South Sudan's government and rebels are expected to sign a peace deal later Thursday aimed at ending the month-old conflict in the world's newest nation, mediators said.

"There is going to be a signing ceremony... by the South Sudanese parties at 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) today," mediators from the regional bloc IGAD said in a statement.

Fighting broke out between rival army units in the capital Juba on December 15, with President Salva Kiir accusing his sacked deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup.

The conflict quickly deteriorated into all-out war between the regular army, who are being backed by Ugandan troops, and defectors and ethnic militia, with the violence also pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer group.

The peace deal presented by IGAD mediators is expected to cover a ceasefire agreement and address the issue of 11 detainees close to Machar who were arrested after the fighting started.

Aid workers and analysts say the conflict has left up to 10,000 dead, while around half a million people have fled their homes.

A rebel spokesperson said he believed a breakthrough could happen soon, but could not provide details of a possible deal.

"It seems as if something could happen," Yohanis Musa Pouk told AFP.

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