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JUBA - 5 Mar 2020

SPLM-IO to control defense ministry

File photo: SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar
File photo: SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar

South Sudan's parties have agreed the opposition SPLM-IO will control the crucial defense ministry under the power-sharing deal, a senior opposition official said on Thursday.

Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman of the opposition SPLM-IO, told Radio Tamazuj that they had resolved the dispute over cabinet posts.

The parties had been stalled over allocation of powerful ministries such as defense, finance, petroleum and interior.

Under the 2018 peace deal, the coalition government will have 35 ministries split up between the group of Salva Kiir, the SPLM-IO of Riek Machar, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), the SPLM-FDs, and other political parties.

Kiir's side will retain 20 ministries, while Machar's group will have nine ministries. The SSOA will take three ministries, the SPLM-FDs will be given two ministries and other political parties will get one ministry.

"The Ministry of Defense has been settled in favour of the SPLM-IO. Also, the SPLM-IO will nominate ministers for the ministries of petroleum, mining, water and irrigation, energy and dams, gender, federal affairs, peace building, and health,” he explained.

 The opposition official said the SPLM-IO will also nominate deputy ministers for the ministries of finance, presidential affairs and interior.

Manawa disclosed that the parties had reached a compromise over who should run the states in the coalition government. He said the SPLM-IO will nominate governors of Eastern Equatoria, Lakes and Upper Nile states.

He pointed out that the parties have already embarked on a series of internal meetings to nominate their ministers, deputy ministers and state governors.

“The cabinet is expected to be announced soon. We can say that we are now ready for the formation of the cabinet,” he said.

The unity government was formed on February 22, in accordance with the peace deal signed in September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders.

Opposition leader Riek Machar was sworn-in as first vice president two weeks ago, formally rejoining the transitional government in the latest bid to bring peace to South Sudan.