South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar has agreed to rejoin the government as the First Vice President on Friday, paving the way for the creation of the much-anticipated transitional government of national unity (TGoNU).
Dr Machar, who leads the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO), met with President Salva Kiir in Juba on Thursday ahead of the February 22 deadline, and agreed to form the transitional administration.
They also agreed to address pending issues later.
“We have discussed in greater length to form the government as scheduled,” Dr Machar said.
“South Sudanese should not be held hostage any longer. I and the president (sic) agreed on the time frame of implementing the other outstanding issues in the agreement.”
The South Sudanese President had told the public on Thursday that he would appoint key officials for the positions of vice presidencies on Friday morning, based on the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), signed in September 2018.
Addressing journalists in Juba after meeting with Dr Machar in Juba, President Kiir reiterated commitments to form a unity government as scheduled in the peace deal.
“I want to tell the youth of South Sudan that there is nothing that can be completed in one day. There are two things I am supposed to do right now, one is preparing food supplies for the cantoned forces, and the issue of having Riek Machar as the first vice president. I will see to that tomorrow (Friday) morning,” President Kiir said.
“Secondly, I am going to reshuffle the old government and announce the new government positions on 22nd February. To my incumbent ministers, I’m appealing to you not to get angry with me when you are left out in the new government."
Already, Kiir has recalled 43 diplomats sent abroad as part of the reorganisation. He also dissolved the governors’ council of 32 officials who were heading the 32 regional states. South Sudan will revert to the old structure of 10 states.
President Kiir says he hopes the next three years of the transitional period will pave the way for refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes.
“The recent changes are meant for peace to be achieved; they are not meant to bring conflict back. We are done with conflict and we don’t need it anymore. In the next three years, we want to see new changes,” he added.