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South Sudan president to reappoint rebel leader Machar in unity gov’t

JUBA — South Sudan President Salva Kiir said on Thursday he will reappoint opposition leader Riek Machar on Friday as First Vice President.

Machar, leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), will assume his position of First Vice President as stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

Kiir disclosed that he had agreed with Machar to form the unity government on Saturday and continue with the implementation of the outstanding issues.

He said that the security of Juba will be his responsibility and will provide protection to all opposition leaders including Machar.

“My forces will be in charge of security of Juba until the training of all unified forces is completed,” he told journalists in Juba.

Kiir also reiterated that he compromised on the former 32 states which were cut to 10 states for the sake of peace because people are tired of war.

He added that he will dissolve the government and form the transitional unity government on Feb. 22.

He called upon the refugees and internally displaced persons to return home as peace is already prevailing in the country.

“We met today and discussed the outstanding issues after reverting to 10 states. We agreed to form the government on time which is Feb. 22, and the rest of the outstanding issues will be solved after the formation of the unity government,” said Machar.

The government and SPLM-IO had been in disagreement over the number of states and boundaries which eventually forced President Kiir to reduce the former 32 states he decreed in 2015 to the current 10 states favored by the opposition.

Machar’s group, despite welcoming president Kiir’s gesture on the current 10 states, protested the creation of additional three administrative units which include Abyei, Ruweng and Pibor areas.

The parties failed to form the unity government in May 2019, prompting an extension until Nov. 12, which also passed without progress, and they later on agreed to the Feb. 22 deadline.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leader.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee the capital. Xinhua News

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