South Sudan's Kiir, Machar agree to form unity government on Saturday

Elias Hubbard
February 21, 2020

Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar are now under worldwide pressure to create a unity government by Saturday, after missing two previous deadlines.

The Cabinet of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has endorsed his decision to return the country to a system of 10 states, with the addition of three administrative areas, ahead of Saturday's deadline to form a transitional unity government. Kiir said he would appoint Machar as first vice president on Friday and provide all the members of the former opposition with protection, Reuters reported.

The formation of a unity government was the cornerstone of a September 2018 peace deal.

South Sudan slid into crisis when Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in December 2013 on suspicion of plotting a coup, followed by a protracted civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced 4 million people to flee their homes.

"I have taken responsibility of protection, as the unified forces are still under training", he said.

He urged some 190,000 people living under United Nations protection in tent cities across the nation "to come out, because the dawn of peace has come".

Addressing journalists in Juba after meeting with Dr Machar in Juba, Mr Kiir reiterated commitments towards formation of unity government as scheduled in the peace deal. It is also located in the oil-rich northern part of the country, which opposition and government forces fought to control during the country's five-and-a-half year civil war.

Sticky issues of state borders and security arrangements remain with just two days to the deadline, which has already been pushed back twice.

"We have discussed in greater length to form the government as scheduled", Dr Machar said.

The panel delivered a damning indictment of "predatory and unaccountable elites" and the suffering of civilians after six years of conflict.

"Today in South Sudan, civilians are deliberately starved, systematically surveilled and silenced, arbitrarily arrested and detained and denied meaningful access to justice", the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in a report.

During the period reviewed by the commission, some 6.35 million people - 54 percent of the population - were facing severe hunger.

Even if the unity government is formed, a United Nations report released on Thursday highlighted some massive challenges.

Ongoing recruitment of child soldiers by both government forces and rebel groups, bloody localized conflicts which left hundreds dead, sexual violence and theft of public funds continued unhindered by the latest peace process, the commissioners found.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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