South Sudan is making strides towards national unity with the formation of a new coalition government.
The new government is attempting to break down rivalries and mend old wounds by bringing together government politicians and leaders of the armed opposition in a new transitional government.
There will be two leaders from both sides at the helm of the new government. These include President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Macha, who returned to the Sudanese capital of Juba on Tuesday to take over his new position as vice president.
These two leaders also collaborated in order to create a new 30-member Cabinet. While Kiir nominated 16 of these ministers, Machar nominated 10 from his SPLM-10 party. The remaining four positions are to be selected in a vote by political factions outside of those lead by Machar and Kiir.
The new Sudanese government is making an effort to bring an end to two and a half years of civil war. The war broke out between competing political factions shortly after the nation’s founding in 2011.
Although Kiir and Macha are now working together, it was conflict between the two that initially brought the country into the throes of war. Fighting initially broke out in the South Sudan’s capital city of Juba when Kiir fired Machar, who was acting as the first vice president at the time.
Ultimately, the sacking fueled the flames of already apparent ethnic tensions. Ethnically charged fighting led to the deaths of thousands of the South Sudan’s people as well as forced 2.3 million more to flee from their homes.
Outside nations eventually stepped up to quell the unrest within the country. Faced with pressure from the United States and the United Nations, both sides—government supporters and rebels led by Machar—agreed to sign a peace deal in August.
However, the deal proved to be largely unsuccessful as both sides repeatedly broke the conditions of the deal. Because of the failure of past efforts to make peace, the outlook for South Sudan’s success at maintaining unity is in question.
There have been signs that tensions remain as manifested with lingering violence. The United Nations’ Mission in South Sudan was attacked this past Monday. One of its compounds in the northern town of Benitu was under fire from a rocket propelled grenade.
Machar has recognized the need for peace, stating that it is the responsibility of the new government to put an end to the violence that has continued despite the new peace deals.
Added to the young country’s woes are economic problems.
South Sudan is facing a crisis as their budget is projected to fall short resulting from years of civil war as well as falling oil prices. As one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, falling oil prices have been a hard blow because the resource is the backbone of the economy.
At the Cabinet meeting on Friday, Kiir made an appeal to foreign nations to aid the new coalition government by giving money.
Top donors to South Sudan include the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway. These nations have been willing to donate money as show of support for the new government’s efforts at unity.
These three countries have stipulated that they would support South Sudan’s new government if it continues to make legitimate efforts at working for the good of South Sudan and fully implementing their peace agreement.
Some of the stipulations of the peace deal include the unrestricted delivery of humanitarian relief as well as the release of political prisoners.
While one former critic of Kiir’s government, Joseph Bakosoro has obtained release from prison, Amnesty International reports that still 33 other political prisoners remain in jail., arousing doubts about Sudan’s compliance with these measures.
Though the youngest nation in the world at present, South Sudan’s short history has been highly contentious.
Progress has been made, but there is room for even greater improvements in future to further unify the country.