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South Sudan draft deal urges ceasefire and pardons

Addis Ababa - East African mediators are urging South Sudan’s warring parties to sign a ceasefire deal to end conflict and atrocities that have devastated the young nation, according to a draft accord.

A separate draft deal urges President Salva Kiir to pardon and release 11 key political detainees, one of the key sticking points of deadlocked talks in Ethiopia mediated by the East African regional bloc IGAD.

Thousands have been killed and half a million civilians have been forced to flee the fighting between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied to his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

The draft ceasefire accord, seen by AFP and presented to peace delegates meeting in Addis Ababa, notes the “scale of human suffering… with great loss of human life, destruction of property and massive displacement” since fighting broke out on December 15.

The proposal demands an end to “all military actions”, but also specifically highlights both sides must “refrain from attacks on the civilian population”, including summary executions, use of child soldiers as well as “rape, sexual abuse and torture”.

The United Nations says that atrocities including war crimes are reported to have been committed by both sides.

Both sides would have to “freeze their forces” in their positions and allow aid corridors in, with half a million civilians now having fled their homes.

They would also have to agree to an IGAD-led team including members from both sides and regional nations to monitor the deal.

The draft deal on political detainees urges Kiir to pardon them to allow their participation in an “all-inclusive national reconciliation process.”

African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma flew to the South Sudan capital Juba on Monday to meet Kiir in a bid to help broker a peace deal.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is to visit Thursday, at the invitation of IGAD chairman, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.