JUBA, -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir has named his transitional unity government, sharing power with ex-rebels in a key step to a long-delayed peace process.

Under terms of an August 2015 peace agreement, the 30 ministerial posts are split between Kiir, former rebel chief turned first vice-president Riek Machar, opposition and other parties.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the naming of the ministers was an important milestone in the peace process, urging the parties to cease hostilities.

Kiir's decree for the appointment of ministers of the transitional government of national unity, which is to remain in place until October 2018, was broadcast on government radio on Friday morning.

Machar returned to Juba on Tuesday and was immediately sworn into the post of vice president - a position he was sacked from five months before war broke out.

Fighting erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup, claims he has always denied.

The conflict, which has torn open ethnic divisions, has been characterised by horrific rights abuses, including gang rapes, wholesale burning of villages and cannibalism.

Kiir loyalists remain in key positions, with Kuol Manyang staying on as defence minister and David Deng Athorbei as finance minster with the job of rebuilding an economy left in ruins by more than two years of bloodshed.

The all-important petroleum portfolio was handed to Dak Duop Bichok.

The foreign ministry goes to Deng Alor, a post he held under a united Sudan, before South Sudan won independence in 2011.

Alor belongs to a group of influential politicians known as the "former detainees", who were jailed at the outbreak of fighting but later freed following pressure from neighbouring countries.

Opposition leader and outspoken government critic Lam Akol becomes minister for agriculture and food security - a crucial job in a country where five million are in need of assistance, and some areas face famine.

Ensuring they work together in a unity government, and that the thousands of rival armed forces now in separate camps inside the capital keep their guns quiet, will be a major challenge.

Both sides remain deeply suspicious, and fighting continues with multiple militia forces who pay no heed to either Kiir or Machar unleashed .

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million driven from their homes during the conflict.

Dozens of political prisoners remain in detention, though a former regional governor and a university don held for months were freed this week, Amnesty International said on Friday.

Joseph Bakosoro and Prof Leonzio Angole Onek were arrested in December.

Source: Name News Network

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