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Africa

South Sudan: Rebels not satisfied with power-sharing deal, but accept it, says spokesman

media President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar exchange Cessation of Hostilities … Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker

Ministerial posts will be shared between the government and rebels, President Salva Kiir announced on Friday. The power-sharing arrangement is part of a peace deal signed last August and is a step towards ending the country’s civil war.

As part of the agreement, 10 ministries will be handed over to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by former vice president Riek Machar. Another two ministries will be given to the so-called SPLM former detainees – politicians who were jailed at the outbreak of fighting and later released – and 16 ministries will be retained by the government. No timeline has been provided as to when ministers will take up their posts. The announcement of ministerial posts is a key part of the creation of a national unity government.

Some fighting still continues in South Sudan despite the agreement on sharing ministerial portfolios. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in fighting during the two-year conflict with more than two million people forced from their homes and more than four million in need of emergency food aid. Both sides have also been accused of perpetrating ethnic massacres, recruiting and killing children as well as carrying out widespread rape and torture.

James Gatdet Dak, spokesperson for Riek Machar, SPLM-in opposition

Is the SPLM-IO satisfied with this sharing of ministerial portfolios?

Well, I can only say that we have accepted, not really satisfied, but we have accepted.

Why are you not satisfied?

Because we are for reforms, we want to introduce reforms, the government has been resisting the reforms, and because we don't trust the government to lead the reforms. We want important ministries that need reforms to be led by our representatives. So we would have wished that we also had other ministries such as defence and finance, plus a number of other ministries. But because it is power-sharing we expected not to get all those ministries. So we have accepted what we have, but we would have wished more.

Are you suggesting that the ministries that you've been given are maybe ministries that aren't quite as important as ministries that have been retained by the government?

Yes, some are important, but some are not. Some are important in the sense that they need reforms, building a transitional government before elections. So such ministries that need reforms are important at this particular time.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, foreign minister, South Sudan

In the beginning when we delayed to sign we thought that the compromise agreement … there are articles included into it which were not discussed by the two parties, both the government and the SPLM-IO. But the most important thing, the president of the republic on behalf of the people has signed an agreement so we are implementing what is in the agreement. I think that the sharing of ministries will bring peace, stability, reconciliation to the people of South Sudan. So I think it is a way forward, it is moving forward to implement and bring peace and stability to the people of South Sudan. That is the main purpose, they are saying people first, before anything. Clearly, the issue of the ministries is not the issue, the issue is the people of South Sudan to have peace.

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