South Sudan peace talks got a major breakthrough on Wednesday 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 last into late-night hours, marks a turning point in the bloody conflict.
The signing ceremony at Ngurdoto Hotel was witnessed by an array of regional leaders, including the 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 Mr Deng Alor Kuol signed the historic agreement after SPLM Intra-Party Dialogue Summit.
The agreement puts the young African nation back on the path of peace and development.
Among the issues agreed upon by both parties is the restoration of peace and stability in South Sudan and the demand for SPLM leadership to make a public apology to the people of South Sudan for all the atrocities committed during the bloody conflict.
Under the signed agreement, SPLM leaders are 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.
They should also formulate and implement policies that will abolish tribalism, sectarianism and militarism in politics, and promote political pluralism.
The pact bans those found to have committed atrocities during the conflict from holding public office.
The SPLM leaders agreed to implement and comply with all provisions of the agreement and use the Igad-led peace talks in Addis Ababa to expedite the peace process.
The leaders are also required to initiate and implement a comprehensive programme for national unity, peace, reconciliation, healing and harmony among the people of South Sudan.
The three factional SPLM groups are required to embrace reunification and reconciliation of the party leadership and membership.
The party's general secretariat shall be restructured to streamline its offices and functions to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
The National Liberation Council, the leaders agreed, shall review the contentious provisions in the draft SPLM constitution to ensure internal democracy within party structures, before its presentation to the National Convention.
The country's Political Bureau is also required to develop a party leadership code of ethics and disciplinary procedures to be applied and upheld by all members irrespective of their positions.
The term-limit for SPLM's national and state chairpersons of the party shall be two terms of five years each, the leaders agreed.
The reunified SPLM shall abide by the terms and spirit of the Igad Peace Agreement.
The party shall also form 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.