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South Sudan government and rebels reach agreement on transitional government

The two sides, which have been at war for two years, have reached a consensus on the structure of a transitional government. The agreement follows peace talks that lasted months in neighboring Ethiopia.

The government of President Salva Kiir reached the agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar on Thursday, according to the organization that has been monitoring the two warring sides following peace negotiations last year.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which has overseen the implementation of a peace agreement signed in August in Addis Ababa, said the deal outlined which ministries would be led by the government and which would be led by the rebels.The government will appoint 16 ministers and the rebels ten, the JMEC said.

In addition, a group of political prisoners and a group of political parties - in both cases unalligned with either Kiir or Machar - will each nominate two ministers.

The transitional government will last three years before new elections are held.

Ongoing fighting

Observers are unsure of how the transitional government will play out, especially as the last unity government collapsed in December 2013 following clashes between forces loyal to Kiir and forces loyal to Machar, who was vice president at the time. Since then, the country has been mired in a

civil war that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Furthermore, the peace agreement has been violated several times since August. DPA news agency reported that fighting had broken out in Western Equatoria province several days ago. That region had also seen heavy fighting in December.

The peace talks, which lasted for months, were overseen by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

South Sudan became an independent state in 2011, the initial, failed Kiir-Machar power-sharing government was the fledgling country's first attempt at democratic governance.

blc/msh (AP, dpa)

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