South Sudanese now hope for lasting peace as Kiir, Machar unite

Friday February 21 2020

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar after their peace talk at the State House in Juba on December 17, 2019. South Sudanese have expressed optimism that this time round the peace deal will be honoured, bringing an end to years of conflict. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GARANG A. MALAK
By GARANG A. MALAK
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Ahead of the formation of a unity government on Saturday, South Sudanese have expressed optimism that this time round the peace deal will be honoured by warring parties, bringing an end to years of conflict.

Two years after gaining independence in 2011, President Salva Kiir sacked his then deputy Riek Machar, triggering a civil war in 2013.

Several peace pacts have since been broken and the war-weary citizens hope that the 2018 agreement whose implementation has been delayed many times will now hold.

In a surprise move last weekend, President Kiir announced that he had agreed to revert to 10 states from the 32 he had created, paving the way for the creation of a transitional government of national unity.

The reduction of the number of states was one of key demands by the opposition groups.

On Thursday, Dr Machar met Mr Kiir in Juba ahead of the February 22 deadline where they agreed to form the transitional administration with the President reappointing the former rebel leader as the first vice president on Friday.

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Mawut Mabior, a resident of Juba, welcomed the decision to revert to the 10 states, saying it was an act of assurance for peace in South Sudan.

“I expect the unity coalition government to be formed to be a transparent one. A government that will manage the country’s resources properly, and in a very transparent manner where the citizens benefit,” he told The EastAfrican.

A beauty queen of now former Jonglei State, Anyier Malual Leek, said she hoped reconciliation forums would be set up to help reunite the citizens.

“In the past, we have been struggling to have peace and this resolution will help in restoring peace. I now expect the new government of 10 states to come up with peace and reconciliation conferences so that the people are brought together and have access to reconciliation and healing,” said Ms Leek.

Ajith Awan, a student leader at John Garang Memorial University, urged President Kiir to engage the former governors in the next government. They were rendered jobless by the reduction in the number of states.

“When politicians are redundant, they can cause chaos in communities. The President should engage the recently relieved governors so that they are not left idle to avoid disaster.”

“We as students expect the new transitional government to invest in the education sector by making the 10 percent national budget allocation to the sector a reality,” said Mr Awan.

Civil society groups have called for a crackdown on corruption and appointment of persons of integrity in government.

Garang David Goch, the chairperson of The Network of Civil Society Organisation in Jonglei, urged President Kiir and Dr Machar to pick peace-loving, transparent and accountable leaders who will deliver services to their people.

“In the next government, we want leaders who are not corrupt, who have not looted their communities, leaders who can deliver service to the locals,” Mr Goch stressed.

In addition to the 10 states, which the country had at independence, three administrative regions seen as oil-rich have also been formed. They are Abyei, whose border demarcation with Sudan is still a matter of discussion, Ruweng and Greater Pibor.

According to the amendment endorsed by the Council of Ministers, chief administrators of the regions will report to state governor, who reports directly to the Office of the President and First Vice President.

The resolution stated that oil producing states will receive four percent of the revenues with one percent going to the administrative area. But opposition groups argue that the three administrative areas should be part of the states and not be under a separate management.

“The issue of the administrative areas will be solved within four months by the Transitional Government of National Unity,” the presidency said.

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