By Sarah Mazirwe – Kampala, Uganda, Saturday, March 14, 2020.
When South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July 2011, in pursuit of peace, it was short-lived as two years later, the youngest nation in the world broke into civil war, originating from two rivals, President Silver Kiir and his long time rival Riek Machar.
Shortly after Independence from Sudan, Silver assumed the presidency as he had previously served as a semi-autonomous president of the Government of Sudan.
In 2013, he sacked his former cabinet that included Machar. This facilitated an uprise in political tensions as senior leaders from the ruling party challenged his decision and by the end of 2013, the whole of Juba was under turmoil. Juba is South Sudan’s capital.
The uprising was between the loyal soldiers of Kiir and while those who were answerable to Machar led to ethically targeted attacks against Machar’s ethnic group, the Nuer.
The fighting spread quickly beyond the capital and has spread into a civil war, leaving the country split into two. The Nuer against the Dinkas, two major tribes in the country. The war shattered the economy and has left half of the population displaced, with many running into Uganda.
The peace deal was reached in September when the then government Information Minister Micheal Makuei through the state television announced that the two leaders agreed to form a transitional government by the middle of November, of which the period was again extended for 100 days after November.
The formation of a unity government showed a ray of hope on February 22 when Silver swore in the leader of opposition Machar as the first vice president as stated in the 2019 September peace agreement.
For about three weeks, the scuffle to find a full joint and unity cabinet has been ongoing. The cabinet was pronounced on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in the capital Juba, by the Secretary-General of the government of South Sudan Abdon Agaw Jok.
In among the 35 ministers and deputies that were named, the appointment of Machar’s wife Angelina Teny as a defense and veteran affairs Minister caught attention.
Angelina becomes the first woman in South Sudan to hold a powerful position. However, when National Telegraph spoke to some of the South Sudan refugees in Uganda, the news was received with little hope, saying the trend has been like that.
Garang Thuki, who stays in Nyumwanji Refugee Settlement, which is about 45km away from the Sudan Border hopes the peace deal will foster reconciliation and she will be able to return to South Sudan. “Since both parties have been included, there will not be wars again, we shall settle, ” Thuki said.
“I shall not go to South Sudan unless I am sure there is no war, at least here, even if I am not getting money, at least I sleep knowing, there are no attacks, I sleep peacefully,” Anne Awate, South Sudan refugee in Rhino Camp refugee resettlement told National Telegraph.
John Mataka, the assistant refugee commandant of Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement added that the refugees from South Sudan who are currently in Uganda have run for refuge at different times from the same uprisings hence sidelines with the assertion of ‘less hope by refugees.
Uganda hosts about 1.3 million refugees of which 74% are all from South Sudan. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees report, the number of South Sudan refugees had almost crossed to one million by the end of 2018.