JUBA – A peace deal in South Sudan has revived hope not just that the guns will stop firing but that economic stability can return.
Since war broke out in 2013, tens of thousands of people have been killed, a third of the population has fled their homes and the economy, which depends on oil, has been ruined.
On Sunday President Salva Kiir and his former vice president turned rebel leader Riek Machar signed a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
Previous deals have failed to end the conflict and residents of the capital, Juba, said they are desperate for this one to succeed.
“What people want is services. People want peace. People want their children to go to school. (They want) hospitals and security and clean water. These are things now citizens are hoping for from our leaders,” John Kenyi, 30, a newspaper vendor in Juba, told Reuters.
Sarah Duku, a 38-year-old mother of three, said: “We hope that the parties come back to South Sudan and implement it this time …As the mothers of this country we need peace so that our economy can improve.”
Sudan’s government on Sunday also said that oil would be pumped from South Sudan’s Unity State through Sudan for export from Sept. 1.
South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after a bitter struggle but just two years later conflict along ethnic lines erupted because of a dispute between Kiir and Machar.
A 2015 peace deal briefly halted the fighting but fell apart after Machar returned to the capital the following year. Other such deals also failed.
Kiir said last week the new peace mediated by Sudan and East African nations would hold because it was not imposed by outsiders and other deals had failed because of external pressure.
Some smaller opposition groups say they doubt the new deal because it does not allocate power fairly.
“The people are tired even if you call them you want to recruit them to go for war, they won’t. So the leaders are left alone and there is nothing they can do except to sign peace,” said James Okuk, a political analyst and lecturer based in Juba.