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South Sudan rebels, government strike power-sharing pact

JUBA, South Sudan -- South Sudan's government and rebels have agreed on how to share the country's ministries for a proposed transitional government of national unity, a group overseeing the implementation of a peace deal to end the two-year civil war said Thursday.

The ministries of finance, defense, justice, and information will go to loyalists of President Salva Kiir, while the rebels under former Vice President Riek Machar, who is slated to retake his post in the transitional government, picked the petroleum and interior ministries in the oil-rich country, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said.

The commission said a group of former political prisoners unaligned with either Kiir or Machar took the foreign ministry, while a group of unarmed opposition parties will run Cabinet affairs.

The unity government, which will last three years before new elections, will have 30 ministries total. Sixteen go to Kiir's side, 10 to Machar's, and two each to the former detainees and the opposition parties.

Analysts lauded the progress but warned that many of key issues in the peace agreement have not been addressed.

"While it's positive, many of the key stumbling blocks to the agreement remain unaddressed...We are not out of the woods yet," said Casie Copeland, South Sudan analyst for the International Crisis Group.

South Sudan's civil war started on Dec. 15, 2013, after a skirmish in a barracks in Juba between soldiers loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and troops who support Riek Machar, who is of the Nuer tribal group. The United Nations says tens of thousands have been killed.

More than 2 million people have fled their homes, including hundreds of thousands seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

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