Salva Kiir and his arch rival Riek Machar signs power sharing deal in latest peace initiative

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his bitter rival Riek Machar yesterday signed a final power-sharing deal in neighbouring Sudan under which the rebel leader is set to return to a unity government as the first of five vice presidents. They have three months to form a transitional government which will then hold power for three years.

The deal, which paves the way to a final peace accord, was signed in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his counterparts from Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti, along with foreign diplomats.

The deal is aimed at ending a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the world’s youngest country.

South Sudan’s nearly five year conflict began after Kiir accused his then-vice president Machar of plotting a coup against him in 2013.

Kiir and Machar’s factions have already agreed on a permanent ceasefire and withdrawing of their forces from civilian areas, in talks mediated by Khartoum in series of dialogues hosted by Bashir.

The power-sharing deal lays out a plan for a 35-minister transitional government including 20 Kiir allies and nine backers of Machar, along with representatives of other rebel factions.

A similar peace deal was signed in 2015 but fell apart a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile.

Kiir vowed on Friday that the latest peace bid will “not collapse”. But he highlighted several challenges going forward, especially in accommodating a bloated government.

“They need security, they need vehicles, they need houses… five vice presidents, this is a very big responsibility to manage,” he said.

“I need to get for them their transport, and one person needs a motorcade of maybe five vehicles. Where will I get this?” “There are so many things need to be done,” he added as reported by AFP

South Sudan’s war dashed the optimism that accompanied independence from Sudan in 2011. The new country plunged into civil war, including fighting within the national army, fuelled by the deep enmity between Kiir and Machar.

The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced some 4mn people and left the oil-rich country’s economy in ruins.

According to the United Nations, more than half of the South Sudan’s 7m population will need food aid in 2018.

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