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South Sudanese Cease-fire Violated Hours After It Began

The cease-fire agreement signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebels was violated Saturday just hours after it began, with both sides accusing the other of initiating attacks in the east-central African nation.

Rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel accused government forces of attacking rebel positions on the outskirts of the northwestern South Sudanese city of Wau, barely six hours after the cease-fire took effect.

Government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the Associated Press that the opposition attacked, saying, “They have a loose leadership. They’re not controlled by anyone.”

Kiir and rival Riek Machar, Kiir’s former deputy, signed a cease-fire agreement Wednesday after face-to-face talks in neighboring Sudan’s capital of Khartoum.

The agreement also calls for the opening of roadways for humanitarian aid, the release of prisoners, and the pullout of military forces, according to Sudan’s SUNA news agency.

SUNA also reported military forces with the African Union and East African regional bloc would oversee the cease-fire.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since South Sudan’s civil war began in 2013, less than two years after it gained independence from Sudan.  The conflict has also forced three million people to flee their homes.

The war has created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since 1994, when the genocide in Rwanda left millions of people near famine.  

The agreement was also signed by other rebel leaders.  The pact provides for a new unity government that will rule for three years, after which there will be a general election, said Sudanese Foreign Minister al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed.

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