South Sudan swore in hundreds of legislators to a newly formed national parliament on Monday, fulfilling a long-overdue condition of a fragile peace agreement that ended the country’s civil conflict.
At a ceremony in Juba presided over by the chief justice, 588 MPs took the oath of office, a mix of delegates from the ruling party and former rebel forces who signed the cease-fire.
The 2018 ceasefire, which halted five years of bloodshed between government and rebel forces and killed nearly 400,000 people, included the formation of an inclusive national assembly as a major condition.
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The summoning of parliament, like several other urgent and vital terms of the peace accords, went unfulfilled for a long time, weakening trust between political opponents who unified in a precarious alliance after the war.
62 MPs were absent from the swearing-in event, partly due to squabbles with the administration over the power-sharing deal, about a year behind schedule and incomplete. The event was lauded as a demonstration of solidarity by Daniel Awet, a representative of the ruling SPLM party.
“We progress our country and safeguard the future for the young generation that has been preserved after lengthy wars only by unity of purpose and affection for one another,” he told the parliamentarians, community officials, and church leaders in attendance. The ceremony was not attended by President Salva Kiir.