Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf released a statement following the ceasefire announcement Thursday.
The United States welcomes the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Government of South Sudan and opposition forces. This agreement is a critical first step toward building a lasting peace in South Sudan, but it is only the beginning of a much longer process to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict, to foster reconciliation, and to hold accountable those who committed horrific abuses against the South Sudanese people.
We call on all of South Sudan’s leaders to honor their commitments to the people of South Sudan by working quickly and earnestly toward an inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue. With the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other friends of South Sudan, we will continue our efforts to expedite the release of the detainees and ensure their meaningful participation in a political dialogue.
It is also important to ensure that assistance can reach the hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected by this conflict. To this end, we call on all parties to facilitate the immediate and unfettered provision of humanitarian assistance to all those in need in South Sudan, regardless of where they are located.
We congratulate the IGAD mediation team for its crucial work in realizing this critical step in resolving the conflict in South Sudan. The United States continues to stand with the people of South Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, humanitarian actors, and all those that continue to work under difficult and dangerous circumstances to alleviate the suffering and protect innocent civilians affected by this crisis.
The ceasefire, scheduled to go into effect within 24 hours of its signing, was the result of weeks-long negotiations in Addis Ababa that were convened and facilitated by the IGAD. Both sides, however, view the ceasefire as a temporary measure. Talks are expected to resume February 7.
Violence broke out in South Sudan on December 15, 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his fired deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Fighting between forces loyal to the two men has continued since December, with the political dispute devolving into an ethnic conflict. Thousands have died and an estimated 500,000 have been displaced.