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South Sudan government, rebels agree to cease-fire

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have signed another cease-fire deal. The rivals agreed that a transitional government offers the best way to steer South Sudan out of its bitter civil war.

In their first face-to-face meeting since South Sudan descended into violence last December, President Kiir and rebel leader Machar (pictured left and right) agreed to a cease-fire during peace talks in Addis Ababa on Friday. The cease-fire agreement is expected to take effect within the next 24 hours.

"Now that we have come to our senses ... dialogue is the only answer to whatever problem we had," Kiir said after a signing ceremony in the Ethiopian presidential palace. "We will continue to move in the right direction."

The two men also indicated that they supported the formation of a transitional government, according to the Reuters news agency. But they did not lay out a roadmap for the formation of such a government or say who would serve in it.

Last January, the South Sudanese government and rebel forces had agreed to a cease-fire. But that deal failed to hold, with both sides accusing each other of launching attacks.

Reports of war crimes

On Thursday, the United Nations

released a report

accusing both government forces and the rebels of committing war crimes.

"These include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape, the direct targeting of civilians, often along ethnic lines, as well as ill treatment and the destruction of property," the report found."These are crimes for which perpetrators bear individual criminal responsibility."

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that the crimes detailed in the report showed "many of the precursors of genocide."

The conflict erupted last December, with Kiir accusing Machar of trying to stage a coup. Since then, the Dinka and Neur tribes have increasingly targeted each other based on ethnicity. Kiir is a Dinka while Machar is a Neur.

Thousands of people have died in the fighting and more than a million have been forced from their homes.

slk/crh, ipj (Reuters, dpa)

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