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South Sudan forms new coalition government of national unity

Published 29/04/2016

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's civil war since 2013
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's civil war since 2013

South Sudan's leaders have formed a transitional coalition government bringing together politicians from the government and the armed opposition who have been at war for two-and-a-half years.

The new government is led by President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar, who returned to the capital Juba on Tuesday to take up the post of first vice president.

Mr Kiir named 16 of the new government's 30 Cabinet ministers while Mr Machar nominated 10. Four others were selected by political groups outside Mr Kiir and Mr Machar's factions.

The government, which has a 30-month mandate culminating in fresh elections, has been formed according to a peace deal signed by Mr Kiir and Mr Machar last August under intense pressure from the international community.

Tens of thousands have been killed in South Sudan's civil war since 2013 after a falling out between the two leaders.

At the Cabinet's first meeting on Friday, Mr Kiir appealed to foreign nations to give money to the new government.

South Sudan's government faces a severe budget shortfall as a result of the war and falling oil prices.

Mr Kiir said: "The people who were saying that you cannot be supported (with foreign aid) unless you form the transitional government of national unity, if they have agents here, they should report back to them that the government has been established."

Mr Machar said the new government must deal with violence which continues despite the peace deal.

He said: "If our people feel in Juba that they can't walk by night, even if we preach peace to them, they say, 'we don't see it'."

Top donors Norway, the US and the UK said they would support the transitional government if it shows it is "serious" about working for South Sudan's good and fully implementing the peace agreement.

In a joint statement, they said: "While formation of the transitional government is a step forward, with thousands dead, widespread atrocities committed and millions displaced from their homes during the conflict, this is no time for celebration.

"The fighting must stop, decisive action must be taken to tackle the economic crisis and there must be full co-operation with the UN and humanitarian agencies to ensure aid reaches those in need; formal and informal impediments must be removed."

The peace deal also calls for the unrestricted delivery of humanitarian relief and the release of political prisoners.

Prominent detainee Joseph Bakosoro, a former governor seen as critical of Mr Kiir's government, was freed on Wednesday after more than four months' imprisonment, but 33 other political prisoners remain in jail, according to Amnesty International.

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