In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the UN chief commended the parties for the “significant achievement in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan”.
“The Secretary-General applauds regional and international efforts that contributed to this result”, the statement continued.
"This [swearing-in] action signifies the official end of the war and we can now declare a new dawn in South Sudan. Peace has come to stay, not to be shaken ever again in this nation" – Pres Kiir #SSOT #SouthSudan @unmissmedia pic.twitter.com/3hEUm8YH98
— Radio Miraya (@RadioMiraya) February 22, 2020
Mr. Guterres also called on the TGoNU members to “fully adhere to the letter and spirit of the Agreement”, so that the people of South Sudan can finally realize the benefits of durable peace and stability they deserve.
“The United Nations stands ready, in close coordination with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the African Union, to assist the parties in implementing the Agreement”, the statement concluded.
‘Courage in peace’
Saturday’s ceremony took place just before the peace agreement deadline expired.
UN Special Representative David Shearer called it “a thrill” to witness the signing in of Vice President Riek Machar and hailed it as “a new chapter in South Sudan’s history”.
Noting that “often the courage in peace is greater than the courage in war”, Mr. Shearer, who also heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), acknowledged the courage of both President Salva Kiir “for taking the decisions that he needed to take” and Mr. Machar “for coming back after conflict” and joining to make the Unity Government possible.
“I believe that after this signing and the forming of a transitional government we will see floods of people returning to their homes, picking up their lives” and getting on with hope for what the future holds, he said.
Sealing the deal
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been mired in instability and conflict for nearly all eight years of its existence.
In 2018 President Kiir and his former Vice-President and long-time political rival, Mr. Machar, signed a peace accord with the hopes that it would end the crisis and improve the lives and safety of millions of South Sudanese.
On Saturday, President Kiir witnessed Mr. Machar being sworn in as first vice-president, sealing the peace deal at the State House in the capital of Juba.
Hopes are high that the new Unity Government will bring an end to the conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more.