The South Sudanese government has agreed to declare a unilateral ceasefire to promote peace in the war-torn country. President Salva Kiir made the promise during a meeting with the chair of African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, on 27 March.
The two met in South Sudan's capital Juba after attending the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit on Somalia, held in Kenya earlier in March.
"On that occasion the President of South Sudan assured the AUC Chairperson that he accepted to proclaim unilaterally a ceasefire and grant general amnesty to promote participation in the National Dialogue, which he equally accepted to be inclusive and led by an independent and respective personality," read an African Union (AU) statement.
"He also reaffirmed his acceptance of the deployment of the Regional Protection Force. President Salva Kiir stressed the added value that African ownership of the political process could contribute to the National Dialogue."
The South Sudan conflict erupted in 2013 when Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, fired his deputy Riek Machar – from the Nuer group – who then became a rebel leader.
Ethnic-related violence targeting Dinka and Nuer peoples has killed an estimated 50,000, amid allegations of crimes against humanity committed by both sides, including rape, torture and the use of child soldiers.
At least 1.5m people have fled to other countries. The exodus has been deemed "Africa's worst refugee crisis". More than 2m are internally displaced.
Last year, Kiir called for a national dialogue to "save the country from disintegration and usher in a new era of peace, stability and prosperity." In his speech, the president called on both warring sides to immediately cease hostilities.
However, violence as continued . The country is now facing what has been labelled as a "man-made famine" that is threatening the lives of at least 100,000 people in Unity state.
During the official visit, Moussa Faki Mahamat reasured the AU remains committed to the government and the people of South Sudan. He also called on the international community to step up its effort to assist the war-torn country.
The rebels have not yet commented on Kiir's pledge to declare the unilateral ceasefire.
Kiir and Machar have agreed on several peace deals – the last of which was signed in August 2015 – but have failed to control their troops, who have broken every ceasefire since 2014.
Machar fled South Sudan following deadly fighting in the capital Juba in July 2016.