The South Sudanese Peace Deal

version created by CPD Policy Blog

Background information

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011.
So far, the country failed to form a stable government.
In 2013, President Salva Kiir fired Riek Machar, who was then Vice President.
Because he was afraid that Riek Machar wanted to be President.
Both men have groups of supporters.
These groups fight each other with violence.
In 2018 Kiir and Machar agreed on a peace deal.
But it was never fulfilled.
Until now they failed to form a government.

Transitional government

President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar need to form a transitional government.
This was part of the peace deal.
A transitional government is often used during crisis.
It is a short-term leadership that rules the country.
Until free and democratic elections can be held.

Federal units

President Salva Kiir structured the country into more federal units.
They are called states.
Each state needs to have an own leadership.
More states mean more people in office.
It is positive that power is shared.
A negative result is that many people get their salary from the government.
With this strategy, the President tries to tie these states to his policies.
But it has also another effect.
Different ethnic groups live in South Sudan.
The two biggest are the Dinka and the Nuer.
President Salva Kiir is a Dinka. And Riek Machar belongs to the Nuer.
People are now afraid that the division into states will cause ethnic conflicts.
People of certain ethnic group are threatened in the new states.
So that they are forced to move somewhere else.


A new structure of the states is not likely.
Because state officials would lose their jobs. And that would lead to new conflicts.
South Africa wanted to mediate between the President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.
Once the two conflict parties agreed by rejecting the South African plan.
The peace deal is the only plan South Sudan has, in the moment.
It has one positive effect.
It stopped the most fights between armed groups.
However, the situation stays unstable.
The conflict groups are prepared for new escalations.

What to do next?

  • A new try of international mediation
  • Find solutions where both sides win
  • The discussion about the peace deal needs to continue
  • The structure of the states must be solved by the transitional government.
    They must stop the forced movement of people.
  • A stable solution is better than rash decisions. Even if it means to discuss longer.