South Sudan takes key step forward in peace agreement

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s government said Wednesday the president and his former rival have reached agreement on a key next step in the country’s peace deal that ended five years of civil war.

The statement by the minister of presidential affairs said President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar have reached agreement on the selection of state governors. International pressure had been growing, with the United States, the UK and Norway in a joint statement this month saying that “any further delay creates uncertainty that undermines the (political) transition process.”

South Sudan’s civil war killed nearly 400,000 people and the latest peace deal was signed in 2018. Kiir and Machar formed a national unity government in February. Further implementation of the peace agreement has been slow, and more steps remain.

But the new statement says the interim transitional government will nominate the governors for six states, the main opposition will nominate governors for three others and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance will nominate the governor of Jonglei state.

Western Bahr El Ghazal, Western Equatoria and Upper Nile states, whose governors will be nominated by the main opposition, have large numbers of former rebel fighters. They are now being combined with government troops.

The composition of the executive and legislature in the states “shall be discussed and agreed at a later date,” the new statement says.

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