April 28, 2016 / 7:48 PM / 2 years ago

South Sudan names unity cabinet in step toward peace

JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir named a new cabinet including former rebels and members of the opposition on Thursday, a step forward in a drawn-out peace process aimed at ending more than two years of conflict.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

The decree read out on state television and radio said a third of the ministers in the new 30-member “national unity” cabinet were members of the SPLM-IO party led by Kiir’s long-term rival Riek Machar.

Fighting broke out between both men’s supporters in the capital in December 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar as first vice president. That triggering ethnically charged clashes across the oil-producer that the U.N. says have killed thousands and forced more than 2.3 million to flee.

Under pressure from the United States, the United Nations and other powers, both sides signed a peace deal in August, but it broke down repeatedly.

Machar only returned to Juba on Tuesday, and was swiftly given back his old job.

“I, President Salva Kiir do hereby issue this ... decree for the appointment of ministers of the transitional government of national unity ... effect from April 28,” the statement said.

In a sign of lingering violence, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan said one of its compounds in the northern town of Bentiu was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade and gunfire on Monday, damaging a container. It did not name the attacker.

Reporting by Denis Dumo; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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