East Africa

South Sudan takes a significant step toward uniting its military forces.

The government of South Sudan announced the formation of a unified military forces command on Tuesday, fulfilling a crucial term of the 2018 peace agreement that observers hope will help the country recover from years of war.

The world’s newest country has battled to put an end to a five-year civil conflict between President Salva Kiir’s supporters and his challenger, Vice President Riek Machar, that claimed around 400,000 lives before the two agreed to a truce in 2018.

Since then, there have been numerous explosions of violence, raising worries of a full-fledged battle as the two sides have remained frozen on crucial matters such as the unity of their troops, which was a key component of the 2018 accord.

However, earlier this month, the two reached an agreement on the partition of senior roles inside the unified organization, agreeing to a 60-40 split of leadership positions in the army, police, and national security forces in favor of Kiir’s side.

Late Tuesday, the national broadcaster SSBC read out a series of presidential decrees announcing Kiir’s plan to appoint members of Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition to top positions in the military, police, and security agencies.

The directives “become effective on the day of the President’s signing (April 12, 2022),” according to the broadcaster.

The graduation of the unified troops should be completed within two months, according to the terms of the April 3 agreement.

Despite the accord, violence continues to engulf the country, with new battles between pro-Kiir and pro-Machar groups causing thousands of people to abandon their homes in Unity state, which is rich in oil.

Since declaring independence from Sudan in 2011, the young country has faced a series of crises, including flooding, starvation, interethnic conflict, and political unrest.

The United Nations Security Council approved last month to extend the UN peacekeeping deployment in South Sudan for another year.

South Sudan’s leadership has been frequently chastised by the UN for its involvement in inciting violence, and the government has been accused of rights breaches amounting to war crimes in the country’s southwest last year.

ADVERTISMENT

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