South Sudan leaders on Tuesday vowed to put aside their political rivalry and implement the signed August 2015 peace deal that calls for the immediate formation of the transitional government of national unity.
President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar appealed to South Sudanese to support the unity government, and pledged to amicably resolve all the outstanding issues.
Speaking during the swearing in of Machar as Vice-President in Juba, President Kiir apologized to the people of South Sudan for the problem the leaders have created and pledged to stabilize the economy.
He said the South Sudanese and the international community had lost hope in the leadership’s delay to implement the peace deal to end more than two years of civil war.
“We will immediately proceed to establish the transitional government. This will restore confidence in us by our partners,” Kiir assured.
“This is the only choice for us to relieve our people from the undeserved suffering associated with the armed conflict imposed upon them. I believe this is the only way to return South Sudan to the path of peace, stability and prosperity,” he added.
The president admitted there are unresolved outstanding issues pending in the agreement like the controversial creation of 28 states, and amendment of the constitution which the two parties disagreed on.
The rebels had demanded before signing the peace deal drafting of the new constitution and creation of 21 states based on the British colonial boundaries of Sudan.
Machar said the major challenge to the implementation of the peace deal is due to lack of enough funds.”You can see how long it has taken to transport the SPLM-IO. To implement such an agreement you need resources and that is what our partners need to look at,” the First-Vice President said during his swearing in at State House.
Machar said that his arrival to Juba should have been earlier, but he delayed due to logistical constraints and the political stalemate due to his demand for additional rebel troops and heavy weaponry.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader called off his coming to Juba thrice until government offered concessions to his rebel group.
He said that stabilization of security and the fragile economy was top priority before national healing and reconciliation takes center stage.”We all know a country which is coming out of war has difficulty in the economic sector. I hope we shall share the same views on these,” Machar said.
President Kiir said he welcomed his First-Vice President to Juba, and that his arrival signaled the end to the conflict.”It is nearly 28 months since my brother Machar left Juba following the incident of December 15, 2013. I welcome my brother to Juba today, and I am sure this marks the end of the conflict,” Kiir said.
“From this day I urge all of you to embrace the fact that we are all South Sudanese, united in love of our country and our desire to build a better future for ourselves and many generations to come,” he added.
“There are issues pending on the transitional government but I promise to start a new page with President Kiir. I will cooperate with the president and the transitional government. I know this agreement is difficult when we have no resources but with the political will we shall implement it,” Machar said.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after more than two decades of civil war, and it again plunged into conflict in December 2013.
“The process of national reconciliation and healing is a very important thing. It should not be left to the President, Vice President or me but to all of us. It should start as soon as possible so that our people can return home,” Machar added.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than two million people from their homes.