A handout photo shows South Sudan President Salva Kiir (centre, front) flanked by first Vice-President Riek Machar, left, and second Vice-President James Wani Igga, right, listening to the national anthem in Juba. Picture: EPA/ Isaac Billy/ UNMISS / Handout

Kampala - South Sudan’s new cabinet is expected to be appointed on Thursday in preparation for its first meeting on Friday.

This first step towards the establishment of a new transitional government of national unity (TGoNU), to unite the two main factions divided by the two-year civil war, follows the arrival of vice presidential nominee Riek Machar in the capital Juba on Tuesday.

Machar’s much anticipated arrival follows repeated delays as he clashed with President Salva Kiir over the number of his followers, and the number and type of weapons they would be permitted to carry, who would be allowed to accompany him on his return to Juba.

Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak told the Sudan Tribune that a consultative meeting of the political bureau of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) took place on Wednesday in Juba.

“First Vice-President, His Excellency Dr Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has consulted with the membership of the SPLM-IO’s political bureau on Wednesday,” said Dak.

“This is on the formation of the transitional government of national unity which is expected to happen on Thursday,” Dak said.

Machar will submit to President Kiir names of the nominees who will be appointed to the ministerial positions.

The opposition faction will nominate 10 officials to ministerial posts, President Kiir’s faction will nominate 16 ministers, while other political parties (OPP) and former political detainees (FD) will nominate two each.

The cabinet will have a total number of 30 national ministers and a number of deputies.

Several current ministers of the cabinet who constitute Kiir’s faction are expected to lose their ministerial positions to the three opposition factions of the SPLM-IO, SPLM-FDs and OPPs, reported the Tribune.

Analysts have expressed concern as to the success of the new government.

Andy Atta Asamoah, from Pretoria’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said: “It’s a sensitive subject and as I’m a member of the UN panel on South Sudan so I’m not able to speak freely with the media.”

However, the United States appeared more positive, if slightly hesitant. In a press release, the US Ambassador to South Sudan, Catherine Molly Phee, expressed optimism that South Sudan had been given a second chance with the latest political developments.

While expressing sadness that so many lives had been lost during the 21-month-old civil war, she said that lives could be rebuilt through implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement signed by South Sudanese leaders.

“It is not a day for jubilation that we saw, let’s say, in 2005 and in 2011, but it is a day for South Sudanese to be grateful that they have a second chance,” she added.

“So, we ask for the patience to work together to fix your problems. You have a great future in front of you,” said Phee.

Reconciliation, she said, must come from the “hearts” of the people of South Sudan, also adding that great traditional, church and mosque leaders could help in the process.

“We, the United States, are supporting the South Sudan Council of Churches to work on reconciliation and I think you should follow the example of your leaders in reconciliation,” she added.

In another press release, the US State Department announced on Wednesday that it would give more than $86 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help conflict-affected people in South Sudan, as well as South Sudanese refugees in the region.

This new funding will provide much-needed safe drinking water, emergency health care, nutrition services, shelter, improved sanitation facilities, agricultural training, and seeds, tools, and fishing supplies for the most vulnerable families and communities.

These include internally displaced persons both within and outside of UN Protection of Civilians sites, refugees seeking asylum in South Sudan, and South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries.

The US Government was also supporting clinical and psychological treatment for survivors of gender-based violence, as well as the transport of life-saving supplies and aid workers to ensure that people who were living in remote and hard-to-reach areas quickly receive assistance.

Washington is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan.

This additional funding raises the total of US humanitarian aid to nearly $1.6 billion since the start of the current conflict in December 2013.

– African News Agency