South Sudan’s Kiir Reappoints Rival to End Violence

The South Sudanese president restores his rival as vice president in an attempt to end a year of civil war.

Presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan and Jacob Zuma of South Africa deliver a news conference in Pretoria, October 24, 2015
Presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan and Jacob Zuma of South Africa deliver a news conference in Pretoria, October 24, 2015 (GCIS)

South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, reappointed his rival Riek Machar as vice president on Thursday in an attempt to end a year of civil war in Africa’s youngest country.

The two leaders have announced truces in the past only to see their supporters continue to fight.

It is unclear if the latest agreement, which restores the situation to where it was before last year’s outburst of violence, will be more successful.

Kiir fired Machar in late 2013 after accusing him of plotting a coup.

The conflict between the two men sparked an ethnic tussle, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer people. Thousands were killed and some two million South Sudanese were forced to flee only years after they seceded from Sudan.

Personally responsible

A United Nations report prepared for the Security Council last month holds Kiir and Machar personally responsible for the violence, which has included extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and the use and recruitment of children.

The report said Kiir’s government bought at least four Mi-24 attack helicopters in 2014 from a private Ukrainian company at a cost of nearly $43 million.

Machar’s forces, in turn, were trying to “acquire shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to counter the threat of attack helicopters,” the report said, “specifically citing the need to continue and indeed escalate the fighting.”