South Sudan forms unity government

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South Sudan formed a transitional unity government on Saturday after the youngest country in Africa had been ravaged by years of civil war.

Riek Machar, South Sudan's former rebel leader, was sworn in on Saturday as the first vice president of the new transitional unity government.

"I want to assure you that we will work collectively to end your suffering. I reiterate my commitment to work closely with President Kiir to implement the agreement in letter and spirit," Machar said.

Machar was sworn in along with three other new vice presidents -- Taban Deng Gai, James Wani Igga and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, at a ceremony attended by some regional leaders in Juba.

The oath was administered by Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut after President Salva Kiir and Machar agreed to form the much-anticipated transitional unity government.

Machar, who leads the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), was appointed as the first vice-president by Kiir on Friday ahead of the inaugural ceremony.

Speaking after being sworn, Machar said he will work together with Kiir and other leaders to bring peace to the country and thanked those involved in the search for peace in the country.

"I promise to work collectively to end your long-suffering," he said.

Nyandeng, who is the widow of the late former rebel leader John Garang, called on the youth to make sacrifices by embracing peace and avoid "vitriolic speech".

"You have desired peace and now you have it. Let the nation-building begin with you in your house and your neighborhood," said Nyandeng.

"We must move forward as one people, and it will take full support of this government," she said.

South Sudanese youth on Saturday appealed for a 20 percent representation to help enhance their contribution to the transitional unity government.

Manasseh Mathiang, Anataban Arts Initiative coordinator, said the youth will bring new energy and change needed in South Sudan's political, economic and social systems.

A coalition of youth organizations had earlier issued a joint petition, demanding the parties to allocate more seats for them at the national parliament as the formation of the unity government gather steams.

Wani Michael, executive director of OKAY African Foundation, said it is time for the leaders to appreciate the participation of youth in the new unity government for the next three years and beyond.

Nhial Tit Mamer, a researcher and director of Environmental Natural Resources Program at Sudd Institute, a Juba-based think-tank, said the youth need a conducive environment to ensure they have access to education, jobs and entrepreneurship.

"Young people want professional opportunities for employment, training and entrepreneurship. They want to be free in order to pursue their dreams, and live in a secure environment for them to flourish," said Mamer.

Under the 2018 revitalized peace deal, which was signed in Ethiopia, the government and opposition groups are tasked with establishing a unified national army to avoid a repeat of the violence that destroyed the 2015 peace agreement. 

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