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Africa

S. Sudan inches closer to unity government

About 1,400 rebel personnel arrived in Juba over the weekend ahead of the planned formation of a transitional government of national unity. Previous attempts to end the chaos and bloodshed have failed.

After more than two years of fighting and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the formation of a government of national unity, which it is hoped will bring peace to South Sudan is now in sight.

"With the help of Britain and Norway, we will be transporting Riek Machar's personal bodyguards and others from the northern city of Malakal to Juba," said Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana and head of a commission overseeing the formation of the transitional government.

Security and logistical problems had stalled the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015 for several months.

But on Thursday of last week, the commission was able to arrange transport for 25 South Sudanese rebel generals to the capital Juba. Rebel leader Riek Machar is expected to further deploy a 3,000-strong-force in Juba prior to his arrival.

Mogae said the commission is on course to facilitate to the peace process. "We have obtained Chinese assistance to prepare the site and sink boreholes, provide water and food for both the opposition and the government so that the transitional government of national unity can be formed," he said.

Mogae also said he hoped the international community will continue to pressure the parties in South Sudan into setting up a transitional government of national unity.

A South Sudanese soldier standing guard © Getty Images/AFP/S. Bol

South Sudan was gripped by violence in December 2013 after a power struggle between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar turned violent.

What do South Sudanese want?

The international community, which in this context includes the European Union, China, Norway, Britain, the United States and the United Nations, played an important role in pushing rebel leader Machar and his political rival President Salva Kiir to sign the peace agreement, which foresees the creation of the transitional administration.

"This actually marks the beginning of the real implementation of the agreement," said Michael Makuei, a South Sudanese government spokesman.

"The joint integrated police will be organized and set up to take over the responsibility of the security of Juba town and the other three towns of South Sudan. Those towns are in two of the three in the newly created regions of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr El Ghazal," Makuei added.

The joint integrated police would contain security personnel from the government and rebel factions.

William Ezekiel, a spokesman for Riek Machar, confirmed Machar's imminent arrival in Juba. "We are serious in the implementation of the peace agreement and it means a lot to the people of South Sudan," Ezekiel said.

"This is the move and the step people have been longing to see," he added.

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