South Sudan rival leaders agree to form coalition government

AP , Thursday 20 Feb 2020

Salva Kiir and Riek Machar
Fole photo: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, left, and opposition leader Riek Machar, right, shake hands Sunday, October 20, 2019 (AP)

South Sudan's rival leaders on Thursday announced they have agreed to form a coalition government, just two days before the latest deadline.

The announcement is a major development in the country's emergence from a five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and shattered life in the world's youngest nation.

The rival leaders had twice missed deadlines to form the transitional government that is expected to lead to elections in three years' time, much to the impatience of the United States and others.

Opposition leader Riek Machar said in Juba he and President Salva Kiir agreed that after the government's formation they will resolve remaining outstanding issues. He said he is confident they will address them all.

Kiir said the new government will be formed on Saturday, the president added, saying these changes are for the sake of peace to prevail. He said he would appoint Machar as his first vice president, or top deputy, on Friday.

The president also said security arrangements, one key issue, will be resolved after the government's formation. He added that the protection of Machar and others from the opposition will be under his responsibility.

And he called on the more than 2 million people who fled South Sudan during the conflict to finally come home.

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