South Sudan’s warring parties to form coalition government

Today, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice-President Riek Machar, will form a coalition government. A power-sharing deal

machar kiir

Photo: Philip Dhil/EPA

Today, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice-President Riek Machar, will form a coalition government.

A power-sharing deal between the Kiir and Machar factions was signed in August 2018, ending a five-year civil war fuelled by a power struggle between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, who is a Nuer. However, the deal is fragile. After two extensions of the deadline, the two leaders have finally agreed to a deal.

Kiir conceded to reducing the country’s 32 states back to its original 10 states as long as Machar accepted South Sudan having an additional three administration areas. This was a significant concession for both sides as Machar saw Kiir’s redrawing of the country’s borders as advantaging the Dinka and meant Kiir could assign more state-level positions to his loyalists.

The next major step for the two leaders is integrating their armies, which are still heavily divided along ethnic and political lines. In particular, ethnic tensions could rise again if the Nuer are not awarded leadership positions in the military.

Even though the two leaders still have separate armies, given the major step they have taken today, expect South Sudan to move closer towards lasting political stability.

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