South Sudan swears in new vice president as incumbent still missing

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Tuesday swore in opposition leader Taban Deng Gai as his vice president Tuesday, less than 24 hours after dismissing Riek Machar, the man who held the office until he went missing earlier this month.

There was no immediate reaction from Machar, opposition spokesman William Ezekiel told dpa shortly after the swearing-in ceremony in the capital, Juba.

Deng was until recently the conflict-ridden East African nation’s mining minister and was the opposition’s chief negotiator in difficult, months-long peace talks with government.

Deng was appointed as opposition leader on Thursday. Machar's whereabouts have been unknown ever since his Juba residence was attacked earlier this month.

According to the opposition, Deng is meant to step aside from the vice presidency once Machar returns to the capital.

The United Nations warned all parties to maintain the ceasefire and ensure that any division - whether within the opposition or between parties - are dealt with peacefully, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in New York.

A fresh outbreak of violence between soldiers and opposition supporters erupted across the country just as South Sudan marked the fifth anniversary of its independence from Sudan on July 9.

The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that more than 37,000 South Sudanese have fled to Uganda over the past three weeks due to the renewed violence.

The clashes dealt a blow to hopes of peace that had grown after Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement last year and formed a national unity government in April, which saw Machar appointed as vice president.

A power struggle between Kiir and Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013, killing tens of thousands and displacing more than 2 million people.

Last update: Tue, 26/07/2016 - 20:34
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