South Sudanese have raised hope for a peaceful future after rebel leader Riek Machar’s return to Juba and his subsequent swearing in as the country’s vice-president.
Juba residents now believe that their country is on the road to recovery after a protracted war between the rebels and the government that lead to hundreds being killed and thousands fleeing their homes.
Hours before Machar’s return, people in Juba had already begun daring to hope.
The hope is very high. With him coming, there will be a great change in South Sudan
“The hope is very high. With him coming, there will be a great change in South Sudan. In terms of the suffering of the peoples of South Sudan, it’s going to change. Those who are in the UN camps are going to be out. Because you see our people have put their hopes in this peace. Without peace, the suffering will continue, the dying of people will continue,” a local residence told Reuters.
Despite Machar’s return, there is no doubt that this is just one step along a very long road back to recovery, and national reconciliation will be a major challenge.
“I still believe that, you know, we can unite once again as a people. I believe that reconciliation is very important and I believe that once we achieve those then we’ll be able to progress as a nation,” a second resident told Reuters.
“Of course, things have happened. But the leadership of this country has to come together to let go what has happened, recognize the suffering of these people, and unite for the future of this young nation,” said a third resident.
Riek Machar's return to Juba is an important turning point for #SouthSudan. The road ahead may be difficult but I believe peace will prevail— Forest Whitaker (@ForestWhitaker) April 26, 2016
South Sudan’s troubles erupted in Juba almost 30 months ago. A political feud between President Salva Kiir and Machar then spiraled into a full-blown civil war.