Former South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar has been sworn in as first vice-president, sealing a peace deal aimed at ending six years of civil war.
President Salva Kiir witnessed the moment at a ceremony at the State House in the capital, Juba.
It is hoped that the new unity government will bring an end to the conflict that has killed about 400,000 people and displaced millions.
However, previous deals were widely heralded only to fall apart.
Saturday’s ceremony took place just before the deadline for an agreement expired.
“For the people of South Sudan, I want to assure you that we will work together to end your suffering,” Mr Machar said after taking the oath.
He then embraced and shook hands with President Kiir.
“We must forgive one another and reconcile,” said Mr Kiir. “I also appeal to the people of Dinka and Nuer (rival ethnic groups) to forgive one another.”
Also present at the ceremony was the leader of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Three other vice-presidents were also sworn in including Rebecca Garang, the widow of South Sudan’s founding father, John Garang.
nder the agreement, the current cabinet has been dissolved to make way for more opposition members.
Correspondents say some issues remain unresolved including power-sharing and the integration of rebel fighters, but the two sides have agreed to form a government and address other matters later.
The deal was announced hours after the UN released a damning report accusing both sides of deliberately starving civilians during their struggle for power.
President Kiir has expressed hope that the transitional three-year period will pave the way for refugees and internally displaced people to return to their homes.
In addition to those killed or displaced, many others have been pushed to the brink of starvation and faced untold suffering.
If the deal holds, it could herald a fresh start in the world’s newest country.
Does the deal guarantee lasting peace?
There are certainly no guarantees.
More than 10 agreements and ceasefires have been reached since the two leaders fell out in 2013, and their inability to sustain any deal, including on power-sharing, has been at the heart of the conflict.
Peter Adwok Nyaba, an activist and former minister in South Sudan, says in a 2019 advisory that the agreement does not fully address the conflict elements of ethnic nationalism, power struggles and weak institutions of governance, which he says remain alive despite the deal.
“This is a typical vicious circle: poverty-conflict-peace lack of development then conflict,” he says.