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South Sudan: A tricky new beginning

By Konye Obaji Ori
Posted on Monday, 25 April 2016 15:38

A 1,370-strong armed rebel force has arrived in Juba as part of the peace deal and government forces say they have pulled all but 3,420 of their troops from the city. All other combatants will have to remain outside the capital.

The entire world is expecting them to live up to their word

The stage is now set for a re-marriage: President Kiir and Vice President Machar. But how long can this awkward, forced union last? According to reports, early signs suggest a rocky road ahead.

Rebel leader, Machar had been due to fly into the capital Juba from Ethiopia, on Saturday, to join a unity government, but President Kiir blocked his flight causing a postponement of the reunion. Machar is now due to return on Monday.

This delay marks the third time in one week that plans for Machar to return to Juba have been thwarted. The first two attempts at a unity government were delayed by Machar, who on two occasions made last minute arrangements to bring additional security forces and additional heavy weapons – RPGs – with him.

That was resolved, and when he was set to come back on Saturday, Kiir closed the airport.

Media campaigns in South Sudan show both men on billboards and flyers juxtaposed with the message: United for peace, prosperity, reconciliation, and healing.

However, the history, animosity, and distrust between both men limits global optimism about a peaceful South Sudan.

The United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the crisis. After the recent mischiefs by both men, US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth has called into question both parties’ commitment to the agreement.

“They are definitely on notice. The entire world is expecting them to live up to their word and to implement the agreement that they signed last August,” Booth told AFP in Washington

Both sides could face additional international sanctions, if they do not work together. Implementation of the peace agreement requires the formation of the transitional government – and that requires the return of Riek Machar to Juba.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million been driven from their homes in a conflict that has reignited ethnic divisions.

Trouble began in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy, Machar of plotting a coup.

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