Riek Machar Sworn in as Vice President of South Sudan

East Africa  |  04.26.16   By admin

PoliticsAfrica_Machar_Kir

As part of a peace agreement brokered by regional partners, Riek Machar has returned to Juba and was sworn in soon after as the countries Vice President.

The new unity Government led by current President Salva Kiir is making it a priority to implement a complete cease-fire by all warring factions and restore peace to South Sudan.  This is their second attempt at building the world’s newest nation, gaining independence from Sudan just five years ago.  Riek Machar fled the capital in December of 2013 after being accused of planning a coup against his government.  Since then the battle has been raging between Kiir’s government and Machar’s rebel group headquartered in the neighboring Gambella region of Ethiopia.

The question is can this peace hold, after 10’s of thousands have been killed and over a million rendered homeless as a result of the conflict?  There are still a lot of animosities built up among the tribal factions.  Corruption is rampant and many South Sudanese I talk to are, hopeful but skeptical that this will hold.  One even went as far as to say that Riek Machar may be assassinated in his current position.

However it turns out over the short and long term, Southern Sudanese will bear the brunt of the consequences.  A war-torn Sudan will look more and more like neighboring Somalia, rendering any kind of meaningful long-term development prospects null and void and lead to a complete breakdown of the formal economy.  The stakes being set, these two leaders are acutely aware of how important it is rebuilding what once was for a very short time, at least.

The union of Machar and Kiir should see a significant increase in foreign aid and insistence by Western governments on fiscal and governance training and assistance being a precursor to any aid other than humanitarian aid.  The private sector will likely take a wait and see approach to see if the peace can hold for the long term before investing real capital.  One thing is for sure, they will have to collectively seek peace if they want to participate in the regional and greater global economy, much like Kenya did in 2007 and Rwanda in 1994.  Both countries have since seen record returns on their investment in a peaceful solution vs. war.

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