Rebel leader in South Sudan sworn in as vice president of government meant to end war

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By Euronews  with AFP
Rebel leader in South Sudan sworn in as vice president of government meant to end war
Copyright  AP Photo/Charles Atiki Lomodong

South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, was sworn in as vice president on Saturday as the country reeling from civil war tries to form a coalition government that will last. 

President Salva Kiir, Machar’s rival, said the move marked "the official end of the war" and that peace was now irreversible.

But this is the third time the two have tried to rule the country together.

They first started out as president and deputy together when South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, became independent in 2011.

However, Kiir dismissed Machar in 2013 and accused him of attempting a coup. This then sparked a gruesome war between the Dinka and the Nuer communities.

A 2015 peace deal saw Machar reinstated as vice president. But that deal eventually fell apart in July 2016 and once again the South Sudanese capital was plunged into battle.

Some 380,000 people have been killed during the years of civil war.

Four million have fled and over half the country is facing starvation. The country’s economy has been destroyed and millions of children are out of school.

Kir and Machar had been under increased pressure from the region and the United States to come to an agreement and create a government.

However, the unity government was postponed twice by their failure to form a unified army, to agree on state borders, to create a protection force for Machar and many other obstacles.

The transition government is also made up of 4 other vice presidents from the current regime. It has a total of 35 ministers and 550 lawmakers.

The South Sudanese pound has already been strengthened by the formation of the unity government and Machar stated that “this is the dividend of peace”.

UN experts say that Kiir and Machar are both responsible for most of the violence committed in South Sudan. This has led human rights organisations to urge the new government to quickly set out a human rights agenda.