ADJUMANI, UGANDA – Uganda hosts Africa’s largest refugee population – one and a quarter million people, with two-thirds having fled conflict in South Sudan. Last year’s peace deal raised hopes for some South Sudanese that they could soon return home. But the fragile peace has discouraged many from leaving Uganda’s refugee camps, despite struggles for adequate aid.
James Gwemawer joined other South Sudanese elders for a board game at the Maaji Refugee Camp in Uganda.
It’s been six years since he arrived here after losing his cattle during fighting in South Sudan.
His family scattered to different refugee camps in Uganda, and he’s still wondering when they can all go home.
“I need to first witness peaceful resettlement of my people back home, with no war or tribal conflict, before I can return. But now, I can’t think of going back. Things are still bad, I can’t leave.”
Sixty-three-year-old Madelena Moria hopes to return to South Sudan – one way or another.
“My husband died and was buried in South Sudan. My other children are buried there. When I die, I want to be buried beside them.”
There are more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in camps just inside Uganda, more than four times the number in 2016.
Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s state minister for refugees, says Uganda’s ability to help is being challenged.
“We’d never known that at any given time we would host over 1 million people. We had always oscillated between 200,000 and 300,000. That was what we knew, even at the peak of displacements from DR Congo, from Rwanda and from Burundi. But when South Sudan collapsed, then we received refugees surpassing millions and that overwhelmed our system,” Ecweru said.
In May, Uganda and the United Nations refugee agency appealed for $927 million in funding to address refugee needs until 2020.
The appeal is complicated by the alleged misuse of aid and the exaggeration of refugee numbers, which prompted the dismissal of four Ugandan officials and launched several investigations.
Joel Boutroue of the U.N. refugee agency also says donors no longer see the situation as an emergency.
“We are falling short of what is really required in terms of access to basic services – such as education. Water is slightly better covered health slightly better covered. But, education needs, for environment energy, protection, we are falling short of really what refugees deserve and need,” Boutroue said.
For the time being, South Sudanese refugees in Uganda will get by on basic services and wait for the day when it is safe to return home
South Sudan’s energy minister, Ezekiel Gatkuoth, attends the reopening of the first session of the transitional national legislature at parliament in Juba, South Sudan, May 14 2019. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREEA CAMPEANU
19 May 2019, 21:20 Paul Burkhardt
South Sudan, recovering from a civil war in which 400,000 people died and a quarter of the population was displaced, is concerned that an uprising in neighbouring Sudan could threaten its oil exports, choking off its economic lifeline.
Two pipelines deliver about 175,000 barrels of oil a day to a port in Sudan, the country from which South Sudan seceded in 2011 after a lengthy conflict, according to the nation’s oil minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth. While Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was ousted after popular protests, the military, which is running the country, is at loggerheads with the opposition over who should rule.
“What is happening in Sudan now is concerning me,’’ Gatkuoth said in an interview in Bloomberg’s office in Johannesburg. South Sudan’s president has sent him to meet with officials “to make sure that the port where we are having our oil transported to the international market is secured”, he said.
Transport of drilling chemicals used for production could also potentially be interrupted.
The smooth flow of oil to Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, is key for the economies of both countries. South Sudan depends on oil for most of its foreign exchange and Sudan benefits from transport fees, which compensate it for losing 75% of its oil production when South Sudan seceded.
South Sudan pays its neighbour a commercial fee of $9 a barrel along with a so-called transitional financial arrangement of $15 per barrel, Gatkuoth said. The need to pay the latter fee will end in December, he said.
South Sudan has a production goal of 200,000 barrels a day by the end of 2019, a 14% increase on its current output, said Gatkuoth. The nation could potentially produce 350,000 barrels a day in 2020, returning to levels it hasn’t seen since its own civil war started.
South Sudan has agreed to participate in the Opec+ cuts deal, but Gatkuoth said it hasn’t yet curbed production since it is pumping below its full potential. The minister was to attend a meeting of the group’s joint technical committee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this weekend.
“We have to be sure we’re meeting the demand of the market instead of overflowing the market,” he said. “So we want to make sure we maintain the cut.”
The nation will consider applying to be a fully fledged member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) once it reaches its output potential, the minister said.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (right) waves after attending a session at parliament in Juba, May 14 2019. Picture: CHOLMAY AKUOT / AFP
May 16, 2019. Juba — South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said on Wednesday that any attempt to forcibly seize power in the country would be met with “violent resistance”, as calls for his ouster spread on social media.
In the past two weeks, a new group calling itself the Red Card Movement, has been circulating calls online for a protest on Thursday with the hashtags #KiirMustGo and #SouthSudanUprising, with organisers appearing to be based mostly in the diaspora.
The movement appears to be inspired by street protests in neighbouring Sudan which led to the toppling of veteran president Omar al-Bashir.
“Violent attempts to usurp power from the people would be met with violent resistance and the cycle of violence cannot end,” Kiir told a press briefing. “The way to stability in South Sudan is through democracy and democratic elections, and this is what we fought for and we will not compromise it.”
Since last week security on the streets of Juba has been beefed up. However, officials have said this was unrelated to the planned protests, but was in preparation for a public holiday on Thursday celebrating those who took up arms in the fight for independence from Sudan, achieved in 2011.
Army spokesperson Major-General Lul Ruai Koang said that the celebrations had been postponed by a week for “final touches” to preparations.
“The security deployment and all sorts of security arrangements [are] to provide maximum security and safety for the people during the celebrations,” he added.
Independent radio station Eye Radio reported on Wednesday that some Juba residents had woken up to security officers going house to house searching for guns.
South Sudanese activist Keluel Agok, now living in Kampala, Uganda, is among those calling for the protests. “If you want to end the impunity please come out on 16th May 2019 to restore liberty, justice and unity in South Sudan,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
South Sudan plunged into civil war in 2013 after Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.
The war has left 380,000 people dead and forced more than 4-million South Sudanese — almost a third of the population — to flee their homes.
A peace deal signed in September 2018 has largely stopped fighting, but implementation has run aground and the planned formation of a unity government on May 12 was postponed for six months.
Meeting in Addis Ababa comes days before a unity government is expected to be formed to end the six-year civil war.
South Sudan’s civil war broke out two years after its independence from Sudan [FILE: Jason Patinkin/AP]
South Sudan’s warring parties are set to hold talks in Addis Ababa on Thursday in a bid to salvage a stalled peace deal, with just days to go until a unity government is meant to be formed.
President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace deal in September 2018. It is the latest in a long line of efforts to end a devastating conflict now in its sixth year.However, the parties have failed to resolve several crucial issues before a power-sharing government is to be installed on May 12, and are at odds over how to proceed.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc for East Africa, said in a statement it had called the two-day meeting to “develop a clear roadmap” for the formation of the government, and tackle “pending tasks of the agreement”.
The government has insisted the meeting must focus on how to push forward with the formation of the unity government, while Machar’s camp wants a delay of six months to resolve issues such as security for his return.
Machar is living in exile in Khartoum, having been hounded out of Juba in a hail of gunfire in 2016 when a prior deal collapsed.
He is set to return as first vice president under the new deal.
Observers say crucial steps envisioned in the deal such as establishing a unified army and discussing security control of the capital have yet to take place.
“We would like to see an extension being agreed upon by the parties, but we would also like to see that the government is committed politically and resources-wise, so that we implement the activities in the agreement,” senior SPLM-IO member Kang Pal Chol told AFP news agency.
“For now we believe we will reach a consensus,” he said, adding that Machar would attend the meeting in Addis Ababa.
Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the president would be represented by members of his negotiating team.
South Sudan’s war broke out two years after independence from Sudan, after Kiir accused his former vice president Machar of plotting a coup against him.Battles between members of Machar’s Nuer community and Kiir’s Dinka people were characterised by brutal violence on both sides, rape and UN warnings about “ethnic cleansing”.
An August 2015 peace deal collapsed almost a year after it was signed and the conflict spread, drawing in more groups around the country.
The fighting has killed around 380,000 people and forced more than four million South Sudanese – almost a third of the population – to flee their homes.
While the latest peace deal largely stopped fighting, violence has continued in some regions with rebel groups who did not sign up to it.
Rise in state-sanctioned executions condemned by Amnesty International as ‘outdated and inhuman’
Children are among those being executed in South Sudan, in an “extremely disturbing” escalation of the state’s use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.
This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged, the highest number since the county gained independence in 2011 , according to evidence provided to Amnesty by legal professionals and government officials.
In 2017, two of the four people executed were children at the time of their conviction, the organisation said.
Among the 342 people currently on death row – more than double the number recorded in 2011 – are a secondary school pupil, who was sentenced to death when he was 15, and a breastfeeding mother. The country’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty meant the figures were likely to be underestimated, Amnesty said.
The rise in executions is happening at a time when the world is moving away from death sentences.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s east Africa director, said: “It is extremely disturbing that the world’s youngest nation has embraced this outdated, inhuman practice and is executing people, even children, at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning this abhorrent punishment.
“The president of South Sudan must stop signing execution orders and end this obvious violation of the right to life.”
More than 100 countries, out of 195 globally, have abolished the death penalty. South Sudan and Somalia were the only countries in the region that carried out judicial executions in 2017.
The use of the death sentence or penalty against a person under 18 at the time a crime was committed is a breach of the South Sudanese 2011 transitional constitution, in addition to international human rights laws and standards. The execution of a mother caring for a young child would also contravene South Sudanese law and international laws and standards.
Philip Deng* was found guilty of murder when he was 15, following a trial in which he did not have any legal representation. Deng claims the crime was an accident.
Deng, who will turn 17 in December, said: “Before the accident, I was in secondary school. I was a runner, a very good one, and I was also a singer of gospel and earthly songs … My own aim was to study and do things that can help others. My hope is to be out and to continue with my school,” he said.
Deng, who said he told the judge he was 15, was sentenced to death by hanging on 14 November 2017. He finally gained access to a lawyer, who appealed against the court’s decision. He was transferred from Torit state prison to Juba State central prison in September and is awaiting his appeal.
Since independence, 140 people have been sentenced to death and at least 32 executed. The country, which allows the death penalty for crimes including murder, terrorism, drug trafficking and treason, has carried out executions every year since it acquired independence, except for 2014, when Amnesty did not record any.
This year’s spate of executions appears to have been prompted by a directive by the director-general of South Sudan’s national prison service on 26 April, in which all death row prisoners held at county and state prisons were ordered to be moved to two of the country’s most notorious prisons – Wau central prison and Juba central prison.
South Sudan, which has been embroiled in a civil war between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups since 2013, signed a peace accord in October.
Before a person sentenced to death can be executed, the supreme court and the president must confirm the death sentence.
In all, 23 countries carried out 993 executions in 2017, with nearly 22,000 people on death row; worldwide, there was a small drop in the number of executions carried out.
In 2017, there was a significant decrease in death sentences imposed across Sub-Saharan Africa.
NHIALDIU — Wrapping an arm around her stomach, the young woman hung her head and recounted the day in early November when she and a friend were bound, dragged into the bush and raped by four men with guns.
“My body hasn’t been the same since,” the 18-year-old said. The men attacked during an hours-long walk home to the South Sudan village of Nhialdiu.
“I was crying and screaming but I was so far from the village that no one could hear me,” she told The Associated Press, which doesn’t identify survivors of sexual assault.
In an exclusive look at the aftermath, the AP joined a U.N. peacekeeping patrol where the attacks occurred as humanitarians, rights groups and South Sudan’s government scrambled to find out more.
Rape has been used widely as a weapon in South Sudan. Even after a peace deal was signed in September to end a five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people, humanitarians have warned of higher rates of sexual assault as growing numbers of desperate people try to reach aid.
While some aid groups have quietly questioned whether all 125 people in the Doctors With Borders report were raped, they do not dispute that the problem has become grave.
The 18-year-old was not included in that report, and the real toll of sexual assault is not known.
Joining the U.N. patrol on Friday, the AP traveled the potholed road where the recent assaults took place. Shrouded by trees and elephant grass, some stretches provide cover for perpetrators to lurk.
Several local women said the violence is escalating.
Nyalgwon Mol Moon said she was held at gunpoint last month while two men in civilian clothes, their faces covered, stole her clothes, her shoes and the milk she meant to sell at market. Standing beside the road, pointing to her borrowed, oversized sneakers, she said she now tries to take alternative routes on her weekly walks to Bentiu.
She has no other choice. Food in Nhialdiu and nearby villages is scarce. Most people could not cultivate last season because of fighting and too much rain. Many rely on monthly aid from the U.N.’s World Food Program.
That means a walk of almost 40 kilometers (24 miles) to Bentiu town. Unable to carry the heavy rations back in one trip, most women leave some behind with relatives and make several journeys throughout the month.
Some said they make the 11-hour trek at least six times.
Alarmed by the sexual assaults, the World Food Program said it is prepared to bring distribution points closer to communities. The U.N. is now clearing the road from Bentiu to Nhialdiu of debris to make access easier.
No one has taken responsibility for the wave of assaults that the U.N. and African Union have condemned as “abhorrent” and “predatory.”
South Sudan’s government has acknowledged the assaults occurred in areas it controls, on the road between Nhialdiu and Bentiu and in surrounding villages. But it blames them on “unregulated youth” who fought alongside warring factions before the peace deal, Laraka Machar Turoal, deputy governor of Northern Liech state that was once part of Unity, told the AP.
Youth who were never officially integrated with armed groups have been left idle, guns in hand, to take what they want by force, Turoal said.
South Sudan’s government has called on all sides to demobilize the youth. It said it has deployed troops to areas in Unity state suspected of harboring criminals.
And yet the army in Nhialdiu has not detained anyone in the assaults and denies responsibility for finding the perpetrators, said John Dor, army commander for the area. He said they took place far from town, outside his jurisdiction.
But several local people said they knew of attacks in villages less than 15 kilometers from the army base. Some who were attacked at gunpoint said they believe the armed youth are affiliated with government troops. The government has done nothing so far to stop the violence, one woman explained.
The U.N., which has increased patrols, is pushing South Sudan’s government to take more responsibility. The U.N. Security Council in a statement on Saturday noted its willingness to impose sanctions on those who threaten the peace, including by sexual violence.
“They’re obliged to make sure everyone’s protected … it’s not enough just to sit in one place and not be involved,” said Paul Adejoh Ebikwo, the U.N. mission’s senior civil affairs officer in Bentiu.
Unity state was one of the hardest-hit areas in the civil war, and Bentiu has changed hands several times. Government and opposition forces remain at odds, even as factions across the country try to reconcile. A meeting on Thursday to build trust was canceled because the parties couldn’t agree on a place to meet, said the independent monitoring group charged with overseeing the peace deal’s implementation.
Meanwhile, many women and girls are terrified.
Cautiously peering through the trees, several hesitantly emerged from the bush, inching toward the side of the road.
“We’re walking here because we’re scared of coming on the main path,” said Nyachieng Gatman. Three days ago, she said, she met a breast-feeding mother and young girl who had been raped in a nearby town.
Standing beside her, 11-year Anchankual Dood lowered her heavy bag of grain and gulped from a bottle of water.
“It’s a long distance to go and come from Bentiu,” the girl said. “But we do it because we need food and because we’re suffering.”
NAIROBI — If a teacher in South Sudan wants to buy a chicken for dinner, he would have to save everything he earns for two full months — and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Five years of intense civil warfare have decimated South Sudan’s economy and killed an estimated 380,000 people. A third of the population is displaced, every second person is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starving to death in the world’s newest country, according to the United Nations.
Parts of South Sudan — including key agricultural areas — are nearly emptied of people; they fled for safety or to find food. That means those who remain in South Sudan are relying on imports, even though a plunging exchange rate means imported food is overwhelmingly expensive. And despite the influx of billions of dollars in food aid, attacks on deliveries, bad roads, flooding and deliberate government interference mean that food often doesn’t get to the people who need it.
The result, according to United Nations data, is that even when food is available, many prices are so high — a single meal costs two times the national daily income, according to a report released this year — that people can’t buy the things they see in markets or shops. This is threatening to worsen a crisis that is already Africa’s biggest refugee exodus since the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.
People are being forced to make difficult sacrifices to survive, said Nicholas Kerandi, a food security analyst with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Some eat only one meal a day. Others cut out education or health-care costs. Many become refugees.
“It’s a way of coping. You have less income, but you still have to eat,” Kerandi said.
For someone like John Leju Celestino Ladu, those difficult choices are all too real. Ladu is an assistant professor at the University of Juba. He makes the equivalent of about $40 a month.
“The situation is so terrible,” he said. “It’s very bad. It’s really hard.”
To take the bus to and from work costs about $10 a month. Like many South Sudanese, Ladu is caring not only for his immediate family members; he has also taken in about 10 others. Some are uneducated and can’t secure a job in the highly competitive market. Others lost family members in the war and need support.
A kilogram of beef to feed 15 people costs about $5. Rather than spend money on meat, most days they eat beans and boiled corn flour called ugali.
Ladu, who has a doctoral degree in environmental science, supplements his income by driving his motorcycle as a taxi or picking up work as a laborer. He is one of the highest educated in a country where fewer than a third of the population can read. But even he has thought of becoming a refugee to survive.
Last year, the United Nations declared famine in some parts of the country — and said millions more people were at risk. Already, billions of U.S. dollars have poured into food aid. The United States alone, the biggest donor, has given $1.78 billion since the beginning of the conflict, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, including $336 million this year. In May, the Trump administration threatened to cut funding to South Sudan unless the country’s conflict ends.
But it’s not just getting food donations to the country. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers. The government and opposition forces actively prevent food from getting to areas of urgent need, according to a statement from the U.N. secretary general. South Sudanese government officials have repeatedly said they don’t deny access.
Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan’s information minister, said that the U.N. estimates of people going hungry are unsubstantiated and that the reality on the ground is different. He acknowledged that some in South Sudan have become economic refugees but pointed to a recent peace deal as a sign of progress.
“Definitely with the agreement, the economy will improve,” he said. “Because whatever was being spent on the war and all these will be used for other issues, especially for the improvement of the economy.”
In July 2013, two years after the country became independent and before the war broke out, a teacher or government worker earned a salary worth about $350 a month. Five years after the war began, the same salary is now worth about $6 because of the devaluation of the South Sudanese pound.
For those teachers, half a gallon of milk now costs nearly half their monthly budget, at $2.70.
But not everyone’s salary is losing value. Peter Garang is one of the luckier people in South Sudan. He works as a security guard at a building in the capital, Juba, and he gets paid in U.S. dollars. That means every time the value of the South Sudanese pound goes down, he gets more money in exchange. But he says he still can’t survive without cutting back.
“That’s not enough to buy food,” he said. “When you clear your salary, you cannot buy anything.”
Garang has four children, but only one is in school. The fees are too high. He’s also responsible for his three brothers, two sisters, and his and his wife’s parents.
He doesn’t buy chicken or sorghum grains anymore. Even the price of a cup of tea from a street vendor forces him to think twice.
Since the start of the latest round of peace discussions between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and the leader of the opposition, Riek Machar, Garang says the prices have gone down slightly. He’s hopeful that this time the agreement will hold.
The South Sudanese leaders have made numerous attempts at peace talks — and nearly all have broken down. After the last peace agreement collapsed in July 2016, more than 1 million people became refugees.
Hopes are higher for this peace agreement because it was negotiated with Sudan, which South Sudan seceded from in 2011 after decades of civil war.
Oil is South Sudan’s primary export and a main driver of its economy. When the country separated from Sudan, it agreed to pipe its oil north. The fighting shut down several oil fields, but Sudan promised to get them working again as part of this peace agreement.
“There’s of course an incentive for Sudan to help,” said Thomson Fontaine, the senior economic and financial management adviser for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, the group responsible for monitoring the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.
“There is a sense that with peace, the economy could really take off,” Fontaine said.
Aside from oil, the country could rely on exports of natural resources such as gold; agricultural exports such as vegetables and gum arabic; and hardwoods such as mahogany and teak.
But much of South Sudan’s most productive area, called Equatoria, has nearly emptied of people since fighting spread there two years ago. For fear of being accused of helping opposition soldiers or to avoid getting caught in the fighting, many people left their farms unharvested. The U.N. food agency estimates that the harvested area was reduced by nearly 50 percent since last year, distorting market prices even further.
“It’s affecting my family terribly,” said Ladu, the university professor. “Life is miserable. Very miserable.”
South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the capital Juba for the first time in more than two years on Wednesday for a ceremony to welcome the latest peace accord for the war-ravaged country.
Machar, who under the terms of the September deal is to be reinstated as vice president, had not set foot in the city since he fled in July 2016 under a hail of gunfire when an earlier peace agreement collapsed.
The latest deal aims to end a civil war that erupted in the world’s youngest country in December 2013 and uprooted about four million people – roughly a third of the population.
The rebel chief was welcomed at Juba’s airport by President Salva Kiir, Machar’s former ally turned bitter enemy. The two rivals then joined regional leaders at the ceremony to publicly welcome the most recent agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) chief David Shearer hailed the moment of cooperation and said that building trust would be crucial, according to a statement.
“To see parties that have previously been divided by violence coming together here in Juba, in a public sign of unity, sends a strong message to the citizens of this country that you are genuinely committed to end the suffering and build durable peace,” he said.
‘Chance to restore hope’
Several thousand people gathered for the ceremony at the John Garang Mausoleum, built in honour of the independence hero who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005.
Among regional leaders attending were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopia’s newly appointed President Sahle-Work Zewde, Somalia’s head of state Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011 after a 22-year civil war pitting rebel groups against Khartoum.
“Sadly, the hopes and dreams of that moment were lost in the outbreak of the war that has plagued this country for five long years,” Shearer said.
“This ceremony is a chance for the leaders here today to restore that hope and to secure a peaceful and prosperous future for their people.”
The deal has encountered delays on several issues including the reactivation of a joint committee on borders and the number of regionals states.
It was not immediately clear how long Machar would remain in Juba, as his aides have expressed concerns over his safety in the city.
Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesperson for Machar’s SPLM-IO rebel group, had said on Tuesday that he would be accompanied by around 30 political figures.
In an interview with Jacaranda FM News, Sana says she is yet to break the news to her daughter: that her father might be hung.
Endley describes the verdict as a “mockery of justice”.
“He is a South African man and ex-retired colonel. I have not had any contact with the South African government today. My request would be is to do the best they can and at least clarify,” says an emotional Endley. “I just heard from a mutual friend in Juba that when the sentence was given the judge even declared that all evidence against William will be destroyed. Why will they do this?”
William has been in South Sudan for the past 18 months. He worked as an advisor to former vice president and now rebel leader Riek Machar on the integration of the rebel forces into the national army under the then peace deal.
The peace agreement collapsed in 2016 where he was arrested.
His sister, Charmine Quinn says the family has been left broken.
“We are very broken. We are emotionally very tired, financially we are under strain. It’s has been really tough.”
Mr Endley, a retired South African army colonel and for adviser of Mr Machar, was accused of providing him with military support.
“I will release him tomorrow [Thursday] and deport him back to South Africa,” Mr Kiir said.
Dr Riek Machar — who returned to Juba for the first time in more than two years to take part in the ceremony — reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of the September 12 peace agreement.
“We come here today to confirm to you that we are for peace. We want peace and unity,” he told the crowd at Freedom Square.
“The peace agreement will bring you federal system of governance,” he added.
Notable among the special guests at the ceremony were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopia’s newly sworn in President Sahle-Work Zewde, Somali’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 after President Kiir accused Machar — then the vice president— of plotting a coup against him.
The five-year civil war has killed an estimated 380,000 people and nearly two-and-a-half million others displaced.
A Mo Ibrahim Foundation report recently ranked South Sudan as the second worst governed state in Africa after Somalia.
Several peace accords have been signed but faltered immediately. They include the last one in 2016 that forced Mr Machar to flee into exile.