South Sudanese express cautious optimism as unity government formed

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South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (L) converses with opposition leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 15, 2020. South Sudan warring parties on Wednesday agreed to continue with further consultations on the contentious issue of the number of states after Salva Kiir and Riek Machar met in Juba. (Xinhua/Denis Elamu)
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (L) converses with opposition leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 15, 2020. South Sudan warring parties on Wednesday agreed to continue with further consultations on the contentious issue of the number of states after Salva Kiir and Riek Machar met in Juba. (Xinhua/Denis Elamu)

South Sudan has opened a new chapter of peace after forming of a transitional unity government, with many hoping that the latest breakthrough is a key step towards lasting peace and stability.

“Women are tired of the war, and what happened today is one step towards a peaceful South Sudan,” youth activist Nunu Daina told Xinhua on Saturday.

To Elizabeth Achol, a women’s leader based in the capital Juba, the new government gives her hope of peace, stability and an end to a biting economic crisis.

“While much work remains to be done, this is an important milestone in the path to peace and development for the people of South Sudan,” she added.

“As a woman, I’m very happy that our president announced the new government. The formation of the government is the best thing that can end our suffering and take this country forward,” Achol said.

With the government in place, citizens are hoping that their new administration could start delivering much-needed public services that have been missing for the past six years.

“My expectation about this government is that they begin delivering service to the people. We want hospitals and schools to be built and we want the guns to be silenced totally,” said Nunu.

“We want the leaders to hold this peace sustainably, and we want our country to gear towards the agenda of development, not war,” said a Juba resident who identified himself as Daniel.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar, leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leader.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in July 2016, which forced Machar to flee the capital.

The transitional government is expected to last three years before the former foes go for general elections.

But the composition of new government also attracted criticism with many citizens arguing that it’s made of the same old guard who took the country to war in 2013.

“I am happy for the breakthrough in forming the government though I’m not happy that they brought back the old faces that led our country to war in 2013,” said James Soka.

“They (leaders) caused the mess in South Sudan and we want them to come and clean up their mess but I believe the formation of the government will put South Sudan on the right track,” Soka added.

Civil society activist and political commentator Edmund Yakani said the formation of the government would return South Sudan to the path of peace.

“We welcome the formation of the government. This means peace is on the road coming back to South Sudan and it means that the concept of violence is coming to an end, and people are preparing to use non-violence to build South Sudan that we want, ” Yakani told Xinhua by phone.

He urged the new government to urgently address issues of corruption, weak judicial system and a polarized security sector in order to stop the country from slipping back to war in the future.

“If they can minimize corruption and restore the rule of law, things will be better. They should also work very hard to unify the army and avoid having two armies,” Yakani added. Enditem

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