South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has named his transitional unity government, sharing power with ex-rebels, a key step in a long-delayed peace process, a decree read out yesterday said.
According to a peace deal in August last year, the 30 posts of ministers are split between Kiir, former rebel leader turned first vice president Riek Machar, the main opposition and other parties.
Kiir’s decree “for the appointment of ministers of the transitional government of national unity” was broadcast on government radio yesterday morning.
Machar returned to the capital, Juba, on Tuesday and was immediately sworn in to the post of vice president, a position he was sacked from five months before war broke out.
Fighting erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup, claims he always denied.
Kiir loyalists Kuol Manyang remains as minister of defense and David Deng Athorbei as minster of finance, facing the rebuilding of an economy left in ruins by more than two years of war.
The key petroleum portfolio was handed to Dak Duop Bichok.
The ministry of foreign affairs went to Deng Alor, a post he held under a united Sudan, before South Sudan won its independence in 2011.
Alor was a member of a group called the “former detainees,” influential leaders arrested when war broke out, but was later released after pressure from regional leaders.
Opposition leader and outspoken government critic Lam Akol became minister of agriculture and food security, a key job in a country where 5 million are in need of aid, with some areas having been pushed to the brink of famine.
Ensuring that the ministers work together in a unity government — and that the thousands of rival armed forces now in separate camps inside the capital keep their guns quiet — is expected to be a major challenge.
Both sides remain deeply suspicious of each other and fighting continues with multiple militant forces having been unleashed who now pay no heed to either Kiir or Machar.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million driven from their homes in the conflict, which has reignited ethnic divisions and been characterized by gross human rights abuses.
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