A flurry of activity as South Sudan waits for the unity government

A flurry of activity as South Sudan waits for the unity government

There’s a flurry of activity in South Sudan’s capital Juba ahead of the formation of the new unity government.

Some people have told me they’re treating Saturday as a public holiday, and won’t be turning up to work.

But is that because they will be celebrating or because they anticipate tensions?

On Saturday, a new cabinet made up of both allies to President Salva Kiir and his rivals within the opposition will be announced.

This is a key step in fulfilling a peace agreement which is meant to end South Sudan’s six-year-long civil war.

In the center of the capital, I saw government forces – most of whom were armed young men who looked barely out of their teens – dressed in military fatigues and red berets riding in a convoy of army pickup trucks.

I was told they were protecting VIP politicians probably out negotiating the make-up of the new government.

Security is expected to be stepped up even more on Saturday when regional heads of state arrive for the ceremony.

At State House visitors are coming in and out. The current cabinet had its final meeting before being dissolved on Friday night.

The main opposition leader, Riek Machar, came by to pick up his appointment letter – he will be sworn in as President Kiir’s deputy tomorrow.

It will be the third time he has held that position – the first was after independence in 2011 and then again in 2016 after the first peace deal aimed at ending the war. That failed three months later.

People here are speculating about how lucrative and powerful ministries will be divided between the opposition factions. For example, who will get the finance, defense, interior, petroleum or justice ministries?

A lot of haggling is going on behind closed doors right up to the deadline for the formation of the government.

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