South Sudan government faces daunting challenges: UN envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations (UN) envoy for South Sudan said the country’s new coalition government faces “a daunting array of challenges” that will test its unity after six years of civil war.

David Shearer told the UN Security Council the most immediate priority is for the former warring leaders and parties to form a transitional government so the country can start advancing toward peace.

Shearer’s video briefing from South Sudan’s capital of Juba followed the February 22 formation of a coalition government led by President Salva Kiir with opposition leader Riek Machar as his Deputy. The arrangement had twice collapsed in fighting during South Sudan’s the civil war, which killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions.

The UN envoy welcomed the unity government, saying that while courage is often talked about in war, “peace also requires courage”.

“The doubters are telling us we have been here before,” Shearer said. “But it’s also important to acknowledge these are changed circumstances.”

He said it was “fair” that the international community likely leaned on the side of caution, “wary of repeating past mistakes”. But he warned the world’s nations against totally stepping back and waiting to see what happens before making a commitment to the new government.