All set for South Sudan unity government

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South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and ex-vice President and former rebel leader Riek Machar meet at the State House in Juba, South Sudan February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

South Sudan looks set to enter a new chapter with a unity government, bringing together President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and ex-vice President and former rebel leader Riek Machar meet at the State House in Juba, South Sudan February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

This comes after months of postponements, fallen deals and mistrust that threatened to put off a solution to lasting peace in the world’s youngest nation.

On Friday, President Kiir appointed former rebel Machar as the country’s first vice president, a day after the two men agreed to form a government of national unity.

This sets the stage for a government bringing together leaders from both camps, that’s set to be inaugurated on Saturday.

“I President Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, do hereby issue a decree for the appointment of Dr. Riek Machar Teny as first vice president of South Sudan with immediate effect,” said a statement read on state television.

The new government will have one president, five vice presidents, 35 ministers and 10 deputy ministers. The agreement also caters for 550 MPs, 10 governors and three area administrators.

Other components of the peace agreements remain outstanding. Kiir said on Thursday that they would be finalised in the coming days.

On Thursday, the former rivals agreed to create a unity government before a February 22 deadline, paving the way for today’s appointment.

A previous November 12 deadline was pushed back as key aspects of a 2018 peace agreement, including agreements on the number of states and unification of the army, had not been met.

This led the United States to impose sanctions on some political leaders.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 when President Kiir sacked his then-deputy Machar, who went on to lead the main rebel faction.

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