JUBA, APRIL 29, 2016 (CISA) – South Sudan’s rebel leader Dr Riek Machar was sworn in as First Vice-President on April 26 in the Juba in a peace deal aimed at ending more than two years of conflict in the world’s youngest nation.
He took the post in a new unity government led by President Salva Kiir shortly after his arrival in Juba on Tuesday two years after fleeing the city on December 15, 2013.
This is expected to be followed by formation of a transitional government of national unity in the next few days.
A former vice-president since year 2005 when South Sudan became a semi-autonomous government following signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with Sudanese President Omar el Bashir, Machar was sacked by President Salva Kiir two and a half years later after South Sudan became an independent nation.
He and President Kiir fell out over the future of the ruling SPLM party and its leadership as well as over affairs of the government.
President Kiir then accused Machar of allegedly planning a coup, which the latter said was a false claim, further accusing the former of allegedly stage-managing a coup in order to silence voices of opponents.
In accordance with the peace agreement, the opposition leader, who becomes first vice president in the power sharing deal, will also be the commander-in-chief of a separate army and police of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), with separate structures from the other co-army and police commanded by President Kiir.
The two rival national armies and police forces will however reunify during the transitional period after achieving security sector reforms laid out in the peace agreement.
The transitional government will run the country for 30 months from formation until elections are conducted at the end of the interim period.
The opposition leader in a statement to reporters at the Juba airport upon arrival said the priorities were to tackle insecurity and restore stability, revive the country’s economy and address humanitarian concerns.
“I am very committed to implement this agreement so that the process of national reconciliation and healing is started as soon as possible,” Mr Machar told journalists at the presidential palace in Juba
“I have no doubt that his return to Juba today marks the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan,” Mr Kiir said.
The president also offered an apology, to the South Sudanese people and to the international community for delays in implementing the peace agreement, which was signed in August.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, described Mr Machar’s return as “the best hope that South Sudan has had in a very long time,” but warned of the need to keep up the pressure on both sides to make sure the peace deal was properly implemented.