Rebels loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar are hailing a power sharing deal reached Thursday with the government as a positive breakthrough, one that they say brings their country one more step closer to peace.
The agreement, signed Thursday in Juba, allocates a total of 30 ministries for a proposed transitional government of national unity. It gives the South Sudan government 16 ministries, including finance and planning, defense, information, national security, and justice and constitutional affairs. The rebels got 10 ministries, including petroleum, interior, labor, mining, and land, housing and urban development. Foreign affairs and transport were given to a group of former political detainees not aligned with either the South Sudan government or the rebels. Other political parties in South Sudan got two.
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, secretary for foreign affairs of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, said the rebels will abide by the agreement even if it doesn’t meet all their demands.
“We cannot say that we are satisfied with what we have, but this an agreement that we have signed on to. Anything that we have signed on to, even it is not satisfying what we wanted, we must implement it as it is. So we are happy with the ministries that we have selected starting with the ministry of interior, ministry of petroleum, and ministry of higher education, science and technology, ministry of energy and dams, ministry of education and water technology, and ministry of humanitarian affairs,” he said.
Gatkuoth said their 10 ministries are geared toward delivering well-needed services to ordinary South Sudanese.
Gatkuoth said the rebels have submitted the list of their parliament members to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), set up by IGAD to monitor the implementation of the August peace agreement.
"So this is a serious breakthrough, and we congratulated the people of South Sudan for waiting, and now finally they will have a government in place soon,” he said.
According to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission timetable, a government of national unity should be in place by January 22, 2016, with rebel leader Machar as first vice president of Sudan.