Hope in Juba as Salva Kiir, Riek Machar seal security pact

South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir. FILE PHOTO | AFP

In what has been described as a major breakthrough, South Sudan’s rival leaders have sealed an agreement on a key military provision of their stuttering peace deal.

President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice President Riek Machar,  agreed on the creation of a unified armed forces command, one of several crucial unresolved issues holding up implementation of the 2018 deal to end the country’s bloody five-year civil war.

“Peace is about security and today we have (achieved) a milestone,” said Martin Abucha, who signed the agreement on behalf of Machar’s opposition SPLM/A-IO on Sunday.

Minister of presidential affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin hailed the deal — signed following mediation by neighbouring Sudan — as a “necessary step… that opens a route for the stable government of the Republic of South Sudan”.

Tensions between forces loyal to Kiir and former rebel leader Machar have spiralled recently, triggering fears in the international community of a return to full-blown conflict in the world’s youngest nation.

Both men were at the ceremony in the capital Juba for the signing of the accord, which stipulates a 60-40 distribution in favour of Kiir’s side of key leadership posts in the army, police and national security forces.


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