South Sudan

 Kiir says unity gov’t ready after Machar return

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President Salva Kiir has said South Sudan will immediately form a unity government after the return of rebel chief Risk Machar.

President Kiir was speaking Tuesday afternoon at the swearing in ceremony of Riek Machar as the first vice president.

He expressed happiness to receive Riek Machar who has not been in the country since 2014.

He said return of Riek marks the end of war and return of peace.

President Kiir said the transitional government will be formed immediately and that outstanding issues are to be solved amicably.

President Kiir apologised to citizens of South Sudan who have been failed by the leaders he said.

He called on everyone to work with him and his “brother Riek Machar,” he said.
Both sides remain deeply suspicious, and fighting continues with multiple militia forces unleashed who now pay no heed to either Kiir or Machar.

His return was stalled by arguments that at one point, in a country awash with weapons, came down to the a dispute about just over two dozen rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that the force guarding Machar are allowed to have.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million driven from their homes in the conflict, which has reignited ethnic divisions and been characterised by gross human rights abuses.

The economy is in ruins, over five million people need aid and two million have fled their homes.

Over 180,000 people are crammed into UN peacekeeping camps across the country, too terrified to venture outside the razor wire fences for fear of being killed.

Tensions are high, and the days ahead will be critical.

“We need the guns to stay silent and give people time — both as official warring parties and as individuals — with one another in coming days,” said Casie Copeland from the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

Suffering is on an epic scale. Parts of the country, especially the devastated oil producing northern Unity region, have been pushed to the brink of famine.

There are huge expectations Machar’s arrival means the myriad of problems will be solved swiftly — but there will be no quick fix.

– ‘Best chance yet’ -Diplomats note gloomily that while Machar’s return is the “best chance yet”, the deal imposed under intense international pressure only sees the country go back to the status quo that existed before his July 2013 sacking as vice president that precipitated the war.

The agreement has already been repeatedly broken with months of fighting since it was signed, and its key power sharing formula in ruins after Kiir nearly tripled the number of regional states.

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup. The conflict has torn open ethnic divisions and been characterised by human rights violations.

It has included the abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls, massacres of civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, murder, mutilation and even cannibalism.

South Sudan is one of poorest countries on the planet, and had some world’s worst indicators for development, health and education even before over two years of war.

Machar has over 1,500 armed troops in the capital, while government forces have officially just over double that.

All other soldiers have to remain at least 25 kilometres (15 miles) outside the capital.

The threat of violence at a local level remains enormous, with multiple militia forces unleashed and out of control.

Machar and Kiir are decades-old rivals and even if they can work together both must also rein in powerful hardline field commanders.

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