South Sudan’s unity government faces daunting challenges

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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)

The UN’s envoy for South Sudan on Wednesday said the country’s new government faces a daunting array of challenges, which “will test its unity.”

Shearer, UN secretary-general’s special representative for South Sudan, told the UN Security Council that the African country urgently needs to move on the transitional security arrangements as required by a 2018 peace deal.pre-transitional structures are now redundant.

Implementation is dangerously lagging,” he said in a video briefing to the council in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. The South Sudanese transitional unity government was formed on Feb. 22, in accordance with the peace agreement signed in September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.Machar has been sworn in as first vice president of the country. South Sudanese parties are now negotiating over the allocation of ministerial portfolios, according to Shearer.

The UN envoy said the new government can prompt positive change, including the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. He noted that around 800,000 of IDPs and refugees have come back since the signing of the 2018 peace agreement, and that the first joint statement from the new presidency urged people from Protection of Civilians sites and neighboring countries to return to their homes. He further stressed the need to ensure the safety of the areas of return for those coming back, and said the UN peacekeeping mission has stepped up its presence to build confidence in those areas.

The UN envoy commended the South Sudanese leaders for showing leadership and expressed his hope that it will continue, while calling upon international partners to remain engaged both in solidarity and at times with pressure to encourage compromise to achieve and maintain the unity.

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