South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar has officially assumed the office of vice-president after he was sworn in yesterday in Juba, South Sudan.
Machar returned to Juba earlier Tuesday in an effort to end the two-year conflict that has left thousands of South Sudanese dead and millions displaced.
Mr. Machar returns to the post of vice-president in a new government of unity, which was brokered in a new peace deal signed in August last year.
Conflict begun in 2013 after President Salva Kirr sacked Riek Machar as his vice-president, accusing him of plotting to overthrow him. Since then the youngest nation has been engulfed in a deadly civil war, which has claimed thousands of lives and rendered millions homeless.
Both President Salva Kirr and his deputy Riek Machar spoke optimistically about the future of South Sudan during the swearing-in ceremony, which took place at the presidential palace in Juba yesterday.
Although the atmosphere was a little tense during the swearing-in, there was jubilation at the airport as Machar supporters welcomed their leader to Juba. According to local media, the two leaders referred to each other as brothers, but the smiles were quite few.
They also insisted for the need to reconcile the country and promised to rebuild the shattered nation. Referring to the rebel leader as his brother, President Salva Kirr said:
“I have no doubt that his return to Juba today marks the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan.”
On his part, Riek Machar promised to commit himself to the agreement so that peace can finally return to the youngest nation.
“I am committed to implement this agreement so that the process of national reconciliation and healing is started as soon as possible,” Machar told the media.
Following the return to Juba and swearing-in of rebel leader Riek Machar as South Sudan’s vice-president, a government of unity is expected to be formed in the next few days.
However, the success of the new government is not guaranteed, given that several previous peace deals have been violated. It is with hope that the two conflicting sides will keep their guns quiet to enable the country to move forward.
Reports also say that both sides remain suspicious of each other and fighting has continued since the new peace deal was signed in August 2015. There are also some rebels who neither listen to President Salva Kirr nor Riek Machar.