South Sudan's President reappoints rival as vice president

South Sudan faces worsening food crisis
South Sudan faces worsening food crisis


    South Sudan faces worsening food crisis


South Sudan faces worsening food crisis 02:15

Story highlights

  • Salva Kiir fired Riek Machar in 2011, which touched off the country's brutal civil war
  • Machar's reappointment was part of a peace deal the two men signed
  • Thousands of people have died in the conflict

(CNN)South Sudan's President reinstated his vice president -- a political rival -- on Thursday as part of a peace deal to end the country's two-year civil war, according to a presidential decree read on state television.

South Sudan, the world's newest country, has been embroiled in one of the world's most brutal -- and under-reported -- conflicts since December 2013.
    President Salva Kiir ousted vice president Riek Machar in 2013, accusing soldiers loyal to Machar of attempting to stage a coup.
    That sparked the current round of violence and inflamed ethnic tensions in the country. Kiir is a member of the country's majority Dinka population, while Machar is Nuer, the country's second-largest ethnic group.
    Since the conflict started, thousands of people have been killed -- some say as many as 50,000. More than 2 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations. Almost 3 million people -- nearly a quarter of the country's population -- are in "urgent need of aid."
    A report from the African Union revealed that forced cannibalism, gang rapes and death by burning had all occurred during the conflict.
    Machar and Kiir signed a peace agreement in August, though clashes have continued sporadically in the country. The deal called for a transitional national unity government to be put in place by early February.