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South Sudan rivals sign final power-sharing deal

South Sudan rivals sign final power-sharing deal

The South Sudan Opposition Alliance and the FDs surprisingly were among the signatories of the agreement on the outstanding issues on governance without reservations.

Under the pact, South Sudanese government and opposition groups greed to have five vice presidents during the transitional period, with Riek Machar reinstated as the country's first vice president.

The agreement outlines guidelines on power-sharing and governance, including settling boundary disputes, which will be guided by a Boundary Commission, and provides for an avenue for the people of South Sudan to participate in a referendum if need be to settle those disputes.

Thousands of people have died in the 2013 civil war after troops loyal to the rebel Machar clashed with government troops.

Kiir and Machar's factions have already agreed on a permanent ceasefire and withdrawing of their forces from civilian areas, in talks mediated by Khartoum in series of dialogues hosted by Bashir.

Under the agreement, the transitional cabinet would be composed of 35 ministers, including 20 ministers from the government, and nine from the Machar-led Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO). However, Machar would be only the most senior of five vice-presidents under Kiir.

"Last month the White House warned that "a narrow agreement between elites" would not solve the problems plaguing South Sudan".

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But on Sunday the top U.S. envoy to Khartoum said the United States still backed the process. "Where will I get this?" he added.

Kiir warned that the bloated size of the government would pose a challenge.

"We are supporting any initiative to bring peace to South Sudan and we hope this process will continue comprehensively", US Charge D'affaires in Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, told reporters after Sunday's deal was signed.

The United Nations said the power-sharing deal was a "significant step".

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 from north Sudan but fighting broke out two years later.

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir said on Sunday oil would be pumped from South Sudan's Wahda region to Sudan beginning September 1.

About 2 million South Sudanese have become refugees in neighbouring countries.