South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has dissolved parliament, paving the way for the appointment of MPs from opposing sides in the country’s five-year civil war.
The move was in line with a peace deal signed to end a civil war that began in 2013. The deal signed three years ago determined that almost a quarter of the MPs would come from the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition led by Kiir’s former foe, Riek Machar.
Activists and civil society groups say the move is long overdue. Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said that a new parliament will be formed in “a matter of time, not too long”.
The peace deal dictates that parliament will be expanded from 400 members to 550. South Sudan’s MPs will not be elected but will instead be nominated by different political parties.
Kiir and Machar have signed many deals to end a war estimated to have killed more than 400,000 people. They repeatedly pushed back deadlines to form a government of national unity, but in 2020 finally did so.
A recent report by the UN has called for the arms embargo to be extended, and for new sanctions against people who hinder the implementation of the peace deal.
Insecurity is still rife across South Sudan and has prevented many farmers – who have been forced to flee their homes – from planting or harvesting crops, causing food shortages nationwide.
There are also warnings from the UN’s World Food Program that more than seven million people in South Sudan will suffer acute food insecurity over the coming months.