By Linda Bordoni
The two rival leaders of South Sudan, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, met in Khartoum on Monday to continue talks negotiated by Sudan’s Presdent Omar al-Bashir and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni..
They reportedly reached compromises on a number of outstanding issues beleaguering the world’s youngest nation.
Violence and spiralling humanitarian crisis
Sudan gained independence 7 years ago but enjoyed a mere two years of peace before a brutal internal conflict was sparked after President Kiir sacked his deputy, Riek Machar and tensions quickly escalated into full blown conflict while ethnic and tribal differences exacerbated problems between Kiir and Machar who was forced into exile.
Tens of thousands have been killed in the violence and millions have been forced from their homes resulting in what is being described as the world’s most catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
Points of agreement
Officials said the key areas Kiir and Machar have agreed upon include a permanent ceasefire, a plan for all forces and the deployment of forces led by Igad and the African Union to safeguard the ceasefire, as well as the proposal to have three capital cities; namely Juba, Wau and Malakal on temporary basis to host the three proposed vice-presidents.
Most important, according to the signed Framework Agreement, seen by the media, the two rivals agreed to allow the Khartoum government to secure the oil fields in South Sudan in coordination with the Juba administration, and to rehabilitate the wells to restore the previous levels of production.
The interest of the Holy See
Pope Francis has shown a special concern for South Sudan calling repeatedly for prayers for its suffering people and announcing his intention to make an ecumenical pilgrimage to the nation to help bring about a truce.
His trip was put on hold due to security concerns, but Vatican diplomacy continues to operate in the quest for peace, while the Catholic Church is on the ground continuing to assist South Sudanese in need of food, shelter, healthcare and education.