Ceasefire in doubt hours after coming into effect
South Sudan government forces and rebels have accused each other of breaking the ceasefire agreement, hours after it came into effect on the midnight of Saturday (the 29th). Rebels said the army had fired on some of their positions along the White Nile river. The South Sudanese military on the other hand dismissed the them as "mere fabrications" intended to hoodwink the international media.
Formation of south Sudan
South Sudan, the world's newest nation was formed on 9 July 2011, from the 10 southern-most states of Sudan, the country to its north. The conflict between Sudan and the South Sudanese rebels ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The agreement provided for a referendum in the south on independence in 2011, in which 99% of southern Sudanese voted to secede from Sudan.
How did the civil war start?
The civil war began as a power struggle between the President Salva Kiir who belongs to 'Dinka' ethnicity and his deputy of 'Nuer' ethnicity, whom he had sacked. On 15 Dec 2013, an armed confrontation erupted at the presidential palace in Juba between army officers loyal to President and disgruntled soldiers backing his ex-deputy Riek Machar. This later deteriorated into a civil war.
Attempted coup or crisis?
President Kirr claimed that the situation was an attempted coup and arrested several former ministers whom he previously dismissed. Former Vice President Machar announced that there was no coup and accused Kiir of misusing his power to silence dissent. The crisis set off a chain of retaliatory killings that ended up splitting the poverty-stricken nation along ethnic lines between Dinka and Neur groups.
At least seven ceasefires have previously been agreed upon and then broken within days, if not hours. These include the Jan 2014 ceasefire agreement and Feb 2015 ceasefire agreement.
Casualties of war
South Sudan's government has not provided accountability for abuses committed by its forces. The war has displaced 2.2 million people and left many regions with a high risk of famine. Atrocities including rape, the murder of children, and castration have characterized much of the violence. In November 2014, the International Crisis Group estimated the death toll could be between 50,000 and 100,000
Peace mediators working hard
The regional eight-nation African trade bloc - Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) took on the role of peacemaker establishing envoys to mediate talks in Addis Ababa. The current round of talks began on 6 August 2015 mediated by IGAD, the United Nations and the African Union, alongside representatives from China, Britain, Norway and the United States.
Rivals attend South Sudan peace talks
In an attempt to broker a deal to end the 20-month civil war, South Sudan's warring rivals met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, who earlier said that he would not attend the meeting, went back on his announcement to take part in truce negotiations with the rebels. South Sudan risks international sanctions if no agreement is reached by Monday.
South Sudan President signs peace deal with rebels
South Sudan's president Salva Kiir signed the peace deal to end conflict with rebels but told that he still had "serious reservations". The presidents of Kenya and Uganda, and the PM of Ethiopia, who all helped mediate the negotiations, were at the signing event. UN Security Council welcomed the signing while also warning that it would impose an arms embargo if the deal collapses.