South Sudan allocates $40m to integrate rival military forces

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (2nd R) and opposition leader Riek Machar (2nd L) shake hands after talks on proposed unity government with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (R) and President of Sudan's Transitional Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (not in picture) at State House in Entebbe, on November 7, 2019. PHOTO | MICHAEL O'HAGAN | AFP
South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar meets with President Salva Kiir at the presidential palace in Juba on September 9, 2019.PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL | AFP

The government of South Sudan has allocated $40 million to speed up the integration of its soldiers with armed opposition fighters to create a unified national army as the country emerges from a five-year civil war.

This comes amid face-to-face talks between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in the capital, Juba. Their talks are expected to continue today on another key part of a peace deal that is yet to be resolved, the number of states.

The international community has been pressing the rival sides to form a coalition government as a crucial part of the peace deal signed last year. A November deadline to form that government was extended to February.

Civil war broke out in oil-producing South Sudan in 2013 – less than two years after the country gained independence from Sudan following decades of war – after Kiir sacked Machar as vice president accusing him of plotting a coup.

The conflict has killed an estimated 400,000 people and forced roughly four million people from their homes.

The $40 million is part of $100 million pledged by Kiir’s government to help fund the peace process.