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South Sudan

South Sudan: Ministerial portfolios key step after Machar’s return

President Kiir and Vice President Machar stand during the national anthem after swearing-in ceremony, 26 April 2016.
President Kiir and Vice President Machar stand during the national anthem after swearing-in ceremony, 26 April 2016. Reuters/Stringer

South Sudan’s new unity government is set to be announced on Thursday, a spokesman for the opposition has told RFI. The composition of the unity government is a key element of the country’s peace agreement and its formation comes after rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the capital Juba and was sworn in as vice president.


“Tomorrow, the transitional government of national unity for South Sudan will be announced,” said William Gatjiath, spokesman, SPLM-IO, adding that Machar was in discussion with President Salva Kiir.

Machar’s delayed return to the South Sudanese capital came months after the signing of an August 2015 peace agreement that hopes to bring an end to two years of civil war.

“We are expecting 10 ministers and four deputy ministers,” said Gatjiath, speaking by telephone from Juba, referring to the division of ministerial portfolios between the government and opposition.

The government is expected to get 16 ministerial portfolios and the armed opposition 10 ministers, under the deal brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc. The remaining portfolios are expected to be split between an SPLM splinter known as the "former detainees" and other political parties.

Kiir hails "brother" Machar

Machar was sworn in as vice-president on Tuesday during a ceremony in which he was referred to as “brother” by Kiir, who originally sacked Machar and accused him of planning a coup. His arrival in Juba was beset by repeated delays concerning the organisation of flights and the alleged transport of certain weapons to the capital.

In his speech during the swearing-in ceremony, Kiir apologised for the delays in the implementation of the peace agreement, according to a transcript of his speech published by a local radio station and referred to “unresolved issues related to the agreement”.

Kiir had signalled his displeasure with several aspects of the agreement relating to demilitarisation of the capital and the configuration of regional government in the northern states dominated by Machar’s forces.

Fighting continues

Fighting between government and rebel forces has continued despite the signing of the August 2015 peace agreement with the African Union-backed monitoring team reporting on several ceasefire violations.

“There will be no more fighting unless we are pushed to do so,” said opposition spokesman Gatjiath. “On our side, we are really very serious about implementing this agreement."

Machar’s return to Juba “marks the end of the war and the return of peace and stability”, said Kiir during the swearing-in. “Our people are tired of war and they need peace now,” he added.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since fighting broke out in December 2013 and more than two million people have been displaced.

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