Angelina Teny: South Sudan’s first female defense minister

Angelina Teny: South Sudan’s first female defense minister

There is cautious optimism in South Sudan that a newly formed unity government can finally bring peace following years of civil war.

What has also got people talking are the prominent roles women have been given, including Angelina Teny, who is now defence minister, the first woman to hold the position.

Ms Teny, who is also married to the former rebel leader and now first Vice-President Riek Machar, is not new to the security role.

While her husband has been under effective house arrest, first in South Africa and then Khartoum, she has been one of the opposition SPLM-IO’s chief negotiators and led the group’s National Committee for Security and Defence.

She is a straight-talker and quick-thinker who has been one of the country’s most important politicians.

She’s previously served as state minister for energy and mining and after independence from Sudan, she led negotiations between the two countries on how to divide lucrative and contested oil assets.

More recently, she spent 17 months in the capital, Juba, after the signing of the recent peace deal working out security arrangements on how rebels and government forces could be merged.

Since her appointment some have questioned her qualifications to be defence minister.

A few weeks ago, I met Ms Teny at a hotel in the centre of Juba where her husband has been living since his return to the country and his appointment to the unity government.

There were hardly any customers there but the lobby and parking space were filled with security officials both in military fatigues and plain clothes.

The compromise the couple and their supporters made by coming back to the capital was to effectively hand over their personal security to their bitter rival, President Salva Kiir.

In 2016, the opposing sides formed a unity government and Mr Machar’s rebel forces accompanied him into the city – it ended up with clashes between the opposing forces and the two fleeing the country.

Now the stage has been set for a repeat, and many will be watching to see if things work out better this time round.

Source: BBC

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