South Sudan’s progress toward peace

This news is so last week (literally), but the South Sudanese government and the rebels it’s been fighting since December 2013 announced last Thursday that they’d reached an agreement on a power-sharing arrangement that could finally lead to an end to their civil war:

The ministries of finance, defense, justice, and information will go to loyalists of President Salva Kiir, while the rebels under former Vice President Riek Machar, who is slated to retake his post in the transitional government, picked the petroleum and interior ministries in the oil-rich country, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said.

The commission said a group of former political prisoners unaligned with either Kiir or Machar took the foreign ministry, while a group of unarmed opposition parties will run Cabinet affairs.

The unity government, which will last three years before new elections, will have 30 ministries total. Sixteen go to Kiir’s side, 10 to Machar’s, and two each to the former detainees and the opposition parties.

Obviously this is good news, but it’s not the end of the peace process. In late December, Kiir’s government announced that it was reorganizing the country into 28 states, from its previous ten states, a move that violates both the terms under which peace talks have been conducted and South Sudan’s constitution, which says that parliament, not the president, has the power to change state borders. So far opposition groups haven’t taken any drastic action in response to Kiir’s move, but it has complicated the peace process all the same.

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