UN chief welcomes signing of peace accord by South Sudan President

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President Salva Kiir of South Sudan at the signing ceremony in the country’s capital, Juba. UN Photo/Isaac Gideon

The signing of a peace agreement by South Sudan's President on Wednesday has been welcomed by the UN Secretary-General as a "critical and necessary step" towards ending nearly two years of conflict in the country.

Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that the accord will bring an end to violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than two million citizens to flee their homes.

The turmoil is the result of political fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, which began in December 2013.

The President had been given 15 days to sign the agreement, which Machar and other rivals had signed last week.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Secretary-General stated that 20 months of conflict had "devastated" South Sudan and subjected its people to "unspeakable suffering."

Mr Ban said the United Nations stands ready to support the implementation of the agreement.

He urged the sides to work to fulfill its provisions, beginning with a permanent cease-fire and the granting of unhindered freedom of movement to UN and other humanitarian partners operating in the country.

Mr Ban also commended regional negotiators for their role in mediating peace talks between the parties.

He said their "continued positive engagement" is essential to a lasting peace in South Sudan.

The Secretary-General added that he intends to convene a meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly next month to ensure sustained support for peace and security in the country.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 52″

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