South Sudan’s presidential spokesman says a transitional government could be established within the next three months, following the ceasefire agreement signed last week between President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Ateny Wek Ateny says the government in Juba is hopeful forces loyal to Machar will keep their part of the ceasefire agreement, insisting President Kiir is certain to lead any transitional administration in the run up to the next general election.
Details of the ceasefire agreement signed by the two rivals include, refraining from combat action, allowing full humanitarian access, as well as forming a transitional government of national unity to take the country forward, and a review of the constitution before next year’s vote, according to officials.
The two sides have accused each other of violating a previously signed ceasefire agreement.
But Ateny says rebels allied to former vice president Machar are to blame for undermining the accord. But he was optimistic the agreement signed between Kiir and Machar will be respected.
“This was signed at the highest level because it is the president that signed the document, which is an indication that the government will be fully committed to the signature of the president,” said Ateny. “I hope Riek Machar will be able to control his forces so that they do not go on rampage. And if they respect the signature, I believe ... within the next two to three months peace will return to South Sudan.”
Some experts say Kiir and Machar signed the ceasefire agreement after intense international pressure, following an escalation of violence in the country’s conflict that has left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.
Ateny insisted Kiir will lead a transitional government, but acknowledged he will not be the sole individual to assemble the team.
“It is not the president who will sit there and form the transitional government alone. Of course those who witnessed the signing will also be part of how we move from this stage to the next,” said Ateny. “So if the rebels manage to respect the signature of their leader, I think within the next three months there would be a formation of a transitional government.”
“There is likelihood that Riek Machar will also be taking part in that in a capacity that is going to be determined ... as to which position Riek Machar should take, and which positions some of his members should take. But it is certain that President Salva Kiir is going to lead the transitional government,” said Ateny.
Aid groups have warned of grave humanitarian conditions following an escalation of violence as government forces battle rebels loyal to former vice president Machar.