Sudan said Tuesday that South Sudan’s warring factions have agreed to sign a “preliminary” power-sharing deal this week, which would be followed by a final one later in the month.
Khartoum, as part of regional efforts to end the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, has hosted a round of peace talks since June between arch-foes South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
The two warring leaders have already agreed on a permanent ceasefire and withdrawing of their forces from urban areas of South Sudan, the world’s youngest country formed in 2011 after it split from Sudan.
They also agreed on a power-sharing deal during a round of talks held in Kampala on July 7 that essentially saw Machar reinstated to his previous position of vice president.
“All parties will sign a preliminary power-sharing agreement on Thursday,” Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
After the Kampala talks, the negotiators returned to Khartoum for further discussions on the power-sharing deal, but media reports claimed that rebels had objected to some elements in the pact.
The ministry said Tuesday that the mediators had “not received any rejection of the draft from any party until this evening”.
It said that all parties had agreed to the deal, although some had raised a few observations.
The ministry said after Thursday’s signing of a “preliminary” deal, a “final power-sharing” accord will be signed on July 26 in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other East African leaders.
Machar’s group confirmed the two signing dates, and said it had made some observations about the deal.
“We will see whether our observations have been included in the final draft which the mediators will give us tomorrow,” Pouk Both, spokesman of Machar said.
A similar power-sharing deal, that returned Machar to the vice presidency, was signed in 2015 but fell apart a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile.
The war in South Sudan erupted in December 2013 after Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup.
The conflict has already killed tens of thousands of people and forced millions from their homes.
Last week, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions on two military officials, ratcheting up pressure on warring groups to end the brutal war.