Sunday, December 28, 2014

Uganda says it will pull troops out of South Sudan only if Juba secured - Yahoo News

By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Uganda's president said on Friday he would pull troops out of South Sudan only if regional forces secured its capital Juba from rebel attack, as fighting in the world's newest state dragged on into a second year.
Yoweri Museveni, who backed South Sudan's now-ruling SPLM in its decades-long conflict with Sudan before independence in 2011, sent his troops across the border at Juba's invitation shortly after fighting began in mid-December last year.
Since then, Uganda's military presence has been a bone of contention during drawn-out peace talks in the Ethiopian capital between President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his sacked ex-deputy Riek Machar.
Machar has demanded Uganda's urgent withdrawal.
"The problem is not with Uganda. The problem is peace among (South) Sudanese, and in order to not leave a vacuum we agreed that other IGAD countries should deploy and now they are deploying," Museveni said in a press conference, referring to east Africa's IGAD bloc, which is mediating the talks.
Museveni spoke alongside Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, where he arrived for a two-day state visit.
"I think Ethiopian forces are already there (in South Sudan), and Rwanda is there. Once they are ready, and can ensure that at least Juba is not affected ... then we shall go back. There is no big issue."
Fierce fighting erupted in the country last December, two years after Juba declared independence from Khartoum, following months of tension between Kiir and Machar.
The United Nations says the civil war has killed more than 10,000 people, caused over a million to flee and driven the country of 11 million toward famine.
Regional efforts led by neighboring Ethiopia to find a peaceful solution to the conflict have made limited gains amid bouts of fighting, despite Kiir and Machar signing a ceasefire in January and then again in May.
The warring parties re-committed to stop fighting and bring their conflict to an end without conditions in November, but sporadic bouts of fighting resumed swiftly after the latest agreement.
(Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Andrew Roche)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Opposition's consultations delay S. Sudan talks | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Opposition's consultations delay S. Sudan talks

The opposition had to hold its consultations in Pagak, an entry point on the border with Ethiopia.

World Bulletin/News Desk
Consultations being held within the ranks of South Sudan's rebel group have caused the delay of the resumption of Addis Ababa-hosted peace talks, which were supposed to reconvene on Friday, a source with the mediating team said Sunday.
“The deadline could not be met as [rebel group] Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) could not conclude its consultations in time,” a source close to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the peace process, told The Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
"They had logistic difficulty moving around constituencies in the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity to bring together community representatives for the consultations," the source said.
"The government delegation has already concluded its consultations and is ready for the resumption of talks," he said. "I hope the opposition will conclude consultations…and the meeting will reconvene very soon."
According to the source, the opposition had to hold its consultations in Pagak, an entry point on the border with Ethiopia.
South Sudan's government and the rebel group led by former vice president Riek Machar signed a detailed timetable to implement a cessation-of-hostilities agreement and an implementation matrix during an IGAD summit held in Addis Ababa earlier this month.
During the meeting, the IGAD agreed to give the two rivals 15 days to hold consultations within respective ranks to sign a comprehensive peace agreement, and detailed the kind of sanctions that any "guilty" party would face for failure to implement the agreement.
Sanctions included asset freezes, travel bans in the region, and ban on supply of arms and munitions as well as any materials that can be used for war.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, which has led to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of IGAD, a regional bloc based in Djibouti. Yet, the talks are yet to yield a solution to the crisis.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

South Sudan diplomats defect to SPLM-IO rebels - Sudan Tribune

– The deputy head of mission at South Sudan’s embassy in Ethiopia, David Dang Kong on Friday announced joining the SPLM/A opposition faction under the leadership of former vice-president, Riek Machar.

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The South Sudan Embassy in Ethiopia (Photo Wanderingmark)
Kong’s move comes one month after South Sudan’s foreign affairs ministry ordered the diplomat to return to the capital, Juba, within 72 hours.
He however refused to return after, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, foreign affairs and international cooperation minister, failed to grant him the security guarantee that would ensure the diplomat’s safe return to Addis Ababa.
Unconfirmed reports previously alleged that Kong had links with the rebels and had leaked sensitive and classified diplomatic information to them, an allegation he denied.
In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune, Kong who is an ethnic Nuer accused Juba government of creating a climate of fear at South Sudan Embassies to systematically force Nuer diplomats abandon their posts at the missions.
“The securities of Salva Kiir who are from Bhar Ghazal region are targeting Nuer Diplomats and citizens at South Sudan Embassies across the world” Kong told Sudan Tribune.
The aim he alleged is to screen out the Nuer diplomats assigned at embassies around the world.
“This has happened at our embassies in New York, China, Kenya, South Africa, Eritrea and now in Ethiopia,” Kong said.
Citing to the circumstances at the South Sudan embassy in Addis Ababa he further accused the government of giving away key positions at the missions to ethnic Dinka or to citizens of Greater Bhar Ghazal region where president Salva Kiir is from.
“At the Embassy in Addis Ababa for instant, the head of mission, the newly appointed second deputy head, head of security, head of military attaché and head of visa department are all ethnic Dinka,” Kong added.
In a similar move, former South Sudan ambassador to Geneva, Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus and Henry Dicah Odwar, a former MP have defected to SPLM/SPLA in opposition.
According to a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday, the two officials declared their defection after they held a meeting with rebel leader Riek Machar on Thursday.
“Today I had a nice meeting with Hon. Henery Dicah Odwar the former Member of Parliament and Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus the former South Sudan ambassador to Geneva after their declaration of joining SPLM-IO” said Machar.
The defectors called for “an end to the misrule of President Salva Kiir” to end the suffering of the people of South Sudan.
They said they will do everything to their powers to make sure Kiir returns the power to the people of South Sudan and thereby to restore peace and justice prevails in the young nation.
Tens of thousands have died and over 1.5 million displaced since conflict between the two SPLM rival factions broke out in mid–December 2013.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

South Sudanese president in Egypt for bilateral talks - Sudan Tribune

November 20, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir is in the Egyptian capital, Cairo for bilateral talks with his counterpart, Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi.
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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on 12 December 2013 (Photo: AP/Sayyid Azim)
Kiir was accompanied by a high level government delegation, which included business community members and representative from the security sector institutions.
The visit, extended by the Egyptian leader, is president’s Kiir first ever since his country gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.
“This is a respond to invitation extended to the president by the president of Egypt and his government. It will be a three day visit during which the president and the accompanying delegation will have the opportunity to hold frank and open discussions on bilateral matters," said South Sudan’s foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
"The discussions will focus mainly on trade and investment in agriculture, health, power and electricity and education”, he added.
A spokesperson for the foreign affairs ministry, in a separate interview, described as "cordial" and "friendly" relations between South Sudan and Egypt.
“Ties between the countries are increasingly growing well at all levels and the president of the president with such a high government delegation confirms the kind of relations we have with Egypt”, Mawien Makol told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
It however remains unclear whether the young nation would seek military assistance from the North African country, given that its defense minister recently struck a military cooperation agreement with Cairo. Egypt reportedly even promised to send its troops to war-torn South Sudan at the latter’s request.
Analysts say the military cooperation agreement between Egypt and South Sudan is a test of its seemingly dwindling relation with Ethiopia, especially at the time when Egypt threatened military action against Addis Ababa over its controversial Renaissance dam.
Egypt continues to develop relations with South Sudan in an effort to protect Egyptian water interests within its borders, through which the White Nile flows. This comes at a time when the dispute between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the Nile’s waters is escalating.
“If you have been following close, it seems that South Sudan is distancing itself from Ethiopia because any deal involving Egypt must have a relation to its confrontation with Ethiopia over Nile water. Such a deal is part of a political measure Egypt wants to apply on Ethiopia that ranges strengthening economic and military ties with all countries neigbouring Ethiopia”, an analyst toldSudan Tribune on Thursday
The analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, said South Sudan has constantly been under pressure from Ethiopia to sign for the Nile Basin Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA), that seeks to strip off Egypt’s colonial right over the Nile River.
“South Sudan has no leverage upon Ethiopia to counter its systematic political and economic pressure. As it has been observed in recent times, Ethiopia, along with United States, have tried to frustrate the government in Juba through dragging the peace talks, demanding withdrawal of foreign troops and covertly provides support to the armed opposition with weapons through its peacekeeping mission in the country,” he observed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

War resumes in South Sudan

War resumes in South Sudan
Rebel forces loyal to Dr. Riek Machar are said to have retreated towards Panjak County of within Jonglei State. AFP Photo
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By Samuel Ouga and Agencies
THE Government of ‪‎South Sudan has withdrawn from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led peace talks in ‪‎Ethiopia. The government withdrew its peace delegation from Ethiopia on Sunday.
The Presidential Spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny in a press statement said that the delegation was recalled because of the recent violation of ceasefire agreement by rebel forces.
The National Courier  reported having obtained information from a South Sudan government source claiming that SPLA forces captured Khorfulus, Kaldak, Canal in Pigi County, in Jonglei state.
The sources at Sector Command intimated to the National Courier that  SPLA took control of the county in an overnight military operation involving Mathiang Anyor (reconstituted 8th Infantry Division), Abushok Battalion, and the Third Brigade of the Jamus (1st Infantry Division).
Rebel forces loyal to Dr. Riek Machar are said to have retreated towards Panjak County of within Jonglei State. The opposition fighters are yet to respond to this claim.
South Sudan's government on Friday accused rebel chief negotiator Taban Deng Gai of abandoning the country's peace talks in Addis Ababa and focusing instead on planning attacks on the oilfields.
Government alleged that Taban Deng Gai who was in Panthou up to the October 30, mobilised and led the attack on Bentiu.
"As government negotiators are under instructions from President Salva Kiir Mayardit to stay in Addis for the talk, the rebel chief negotiator Taban Deng Gai is in Heglig busy planning for more attacks on the oil areas,” said the presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny while addressing the press in Juba.
"We would like to assure our people that the President of the Republic is not going to go to war against the very people in which he serves as the President, though our forces have the right to self- defense," he added.  The spokesman said that President Kiir remains committed to South Sudan's peace talks despite rebel attacks.
It’s still not clear as to which group is in control of Bentiu, Unity State Capital.
South Sudan’s SPLM an Opposition faction, loyal to Dr. Riek Machar, announced, on Wednesday, that its forces were in control of Bentiu, capital of the oil rich Unity state, accusing pro-government troops of disowning a ceasefire agreement signed on January 23.
Lt. Col Peter Riek Gew, a rebel spokesperson on the ground, in a statement to the press, said “Our forces were forced to take control of the oil-rich town due to the aggressive action of South Sudan army (SPLA) against our defense positions.” 
He said government’s continuous attacks on their positions north of Bentiu constituted a violation of the ceasefire deal and resulted to the response by the opposition forces.
The rebels spokesperson  also accused government forces of allegedly violating the cessation of hostilities agreement by provoking their forces in Unity state, resulting in the capture of Bentui on Wednesday.
“It has become a habit that government forces attack our positions and rush to blame the violations on us. How do they explain shelling our defence positions for the last three days?” James Gatdek Dak said, adding that rebel forces had the right to self-defence and to pursue their attackers.

Speaking to New Vision, Mabior Garang de Mabior; deputy spokesman for the SPLM opposition delegates in Ethiopia, responding to the new developments said; “Government troops have been shelling our forces and they are the ones also withdrawing from the talks.”

Thousands of people have been killed and almost two million have been forced from their homes by fighting in South Sudan, including almost 100,000 people who are sheltering in squalid UN peacekeeping bases -- including in Bentiu -- fearing they will be killed if they leave.

"The already dire humanitarian situation throughout South Sudan is further imperiled by this violence and risks millions of lives," East African mediators from the regional IGAD bloc said in a statement, warning of the "humanitarian catastrophe induced by this war."

Chief talks mediator Seyoum Mesfin told reporters in Ethiopia, on Thursday, that the region was "not bluffing" in threats to slap sanctions on those fighting.

The UN have accused both sides of using war rather than talks as a solution and creating a "catastrophic humanitarian situation", in a report last month to the Security Council.

It said both viewed war "either as a possible solution to the crisis or a viable negotiating tactic."

Both Machar's forces and troops loyal to President Salva Kiir have been accused of war crimes including mass killings, rape, attacks on hospitals and places of worship and recruiting child soldiers.

Kiir and his sacked vice-president Machar met earlier this month in Tanzania, shaking hands and accepting mutual responsibility for the war.

Garang de Mabior,told the New Vision that Tanzania, through the ruling CCM party is only facilitating South Sudan Intra-Party Dialogue.

“The Arusha Process should be viewed as complementing the IGAD led mediation in Addis Ababa,” he added.

Monday, November 3, 2014

President Kiir withdraws negotiating team from peace talks - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

 South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has recalled the government delegation currently taking part in negotiations in Ethiopia with the country’s armed opposition group under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar, accusing the latter of seeking a military solution to the more than 10-month-long conflict.
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The leader of South Sudan’s government’s delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial (L), signs a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending conflict in the country following negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Birahnu Sebsibe)
The move comes after the president told governors on Friday that he would recall his negotiating team in protest over the recent military engagement in Unity state capital Bentiu.
The town has repeatedly changed hands between the country’s rival forces since the conflict erupted in mid-December 2013 after a political rift within the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) turned violent.
Peace talks between government and rebel forces, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have so far failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.
“The president, with permission from the chief mediator, decided to recall our negotiating team because, first of all, the rebel delegation, instead of participating in the talks in good faith, decided to participate in the organisation of military attacks,” presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny told Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
Ateny claimed that Taban Deng Gai, the leader of the rebel negotiating team, travelled to Heglig, the contested border area with Sudan, to organise and a military offensive against government troops in Unity state.
“He (Gai) was in Heglig when [the] attack was launched on Bentiu. He only left Heglig after he was frustrated with [the] defeat of their forces in their bid to take Bentiu, so that it enhances their position at the talks,” he said.
“The second reason is that some of the negotiating team members are cabinet ministers, so the president felt it would not be wise leaving them to stay around without negotiation while there are some works they can do back in the country,” he added.
His comments echo similar claims by the South Sudan’s army (SPLA) spokesperson, Colonel Philip Aguer.
In quotes published by various media agencies on Friday, Aguer alleged that Gai had travelled to the contested border town of Heglig, which remains under the control of the Sudanese army (SAF), to drum up support and boost the morale of rebel fighters in the region to launch an attack purportedly aimed at taking control of Bentiu town.
“Taban Deng Gai was in Panthou (Heglig) when rebels of Riek Machar launched an attack on Bentiu. He only left Panthou (Heglig) on 30 October. This is an indication the rebels of Riek Machar have not abandoned the option of [a] military solution,” Aguer told reporters on Friday.
However, Abdullah Kuot, a spokesperson for armed opposition forces in the Bahr el Ghazal region under the overall command of General Dau Aturjong, denied Gai was involved in military activities, saying the rebel delegation had not left the negotiating table since peace talks resumed last week.
“The decision of the government delegation to return to Juba on the order of Salva Kiir indicates that they are committed to rhetoric of peaceful settlement of the conflict they instigated,” said Kuot.
“Our delegation has never left the venue of peace talks. Indeed their strength has been reinforced by the presence of our chairman, comrade Dr Riek Machar in Ethiopia,” he added.
The leading opposition figure claimed the rebel leadership had asked their leader to come to Ethiopia where IGAD-led talks are being held.
“The leadership felt it would be wise for him to be there personally, so that he would be able to provide guidance to the negotiating team so that they can easily navigates the way out of difficulties, mostly on issues which the government delegation shows intransigence,” Kuot explained in a separate interview on Sunday.
Renewed clashes erupted in Unity state last week between government and rebel forces, with both sides claiming to have the upper hand.
Both the US and United Nations have strongly condemned the latest rebel attacks in the oil-rich region, describing it as a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the two rival factions in January.
South Sudan has been locked in an ongoing cycle of violence since mid-December outbreak of violence last year.
The conflict was initially contained in the capital, Juba, before rapidly spreading to other parts of the country, fuelling simmering tribal tensions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

South Sudan: President Kirr Agrees to Adoption of Federal System - Sudan Tribune

Juba — South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, has unconditionally accepted the adoption of a federal system of governance in the country, including all accompanying reforms, a high-level presidential source disclosed on Sunday.
According to the source, the president also agreed to share power with the armed opposition movement under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar, in line with the protocol of agreed principles as set down by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks between the two warring parties.
"The breakthrough which the IGAD chief mediator announced on Wednesday after the close of the mini summit is the acceptance of Riek Machar to recognise president Salva Kiir as the democratically elected and the constitutionally mandated president of the Republic of South Sudan and that he would not continue to advocate for his removal by force," the source told Sudan Tribune.
"In this context, the president accepted without condition to share power with [the] rebels. He will accept whoever they will nominate to the post of prime ministers," he added.
Significantly, this would waive Kiir's right to veto nominees to the post of prime minister.
The issue of federalism has long caused unnecessary division within the country and among citizens, the presidential aide said.
Ongoing debate surrounding federalism was the trigger for repeated conflict with successive governments in Sudan, from which the South seceded in 2011 after the signing of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) ended more than two decades of civil war and paved the way for a referendum on self determination.
"The president never opposed federalism. What he has been saying is that any system of governance should be decided by the people of South Sudan through an all-inclusive process, like the current constitutional-making process, because this is a very important matter to be decided by individuals or institutions," the source said.
"But because it seems that he has been misunderstood, including our friends and political allies from the region, he accepted to remove any obstacle to the peace process, including the issue of federalism," he added.
Leading opposition figures said they were informed of Kiir's decision by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and the Ethiopian and Uganda prime ministers, who attended the one-day mini summit in the capital, Juba, on 22 October.
"Our colleagues attending [a] leadership briefing in Nairobi, Kenya, have told us that Salva Kiir has accepted that he will not have any veto power on our nominee to the post of prime minister," rebel spokesperson Abdullah Kuot said.
"From one side, and this is just my opinion, there is no other person than our chairman, comrade Dr Riek Machar," he added.
Kuot, a former Northern Bahr el Ghazal MP who defected to the rebel faction, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the reforms would cover all sectors, including security, public service, finance, foreign relations and governance.
He said the opposition movement was also committed to combating corruption and nepotism and planned to focus efforts on restoring public confidence and trust in public institutions.
If confirmed, observers say the agreement would represent a major concession on the part of Kiir and would demonstrate his government's commitment to resolving the conflict through peaceful dialogue.
An IGAD summit is expected to be convened next week in Ethiopia.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

South Sudanese rebels renew calls for withdrawal of Ugandan troops - Sudan Tribune

October 25, 2014 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s opposition faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has renewed calls for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops and other foreign rebels allied to president Salva Kiir’s government from the country.
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The Ugandan military has been providing support to the South Sudanese army (SPLA) since conflict erupted in the country in mid-December (AP)
The opposition leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, when contacted on Saturday said the resolutions passed by the leadership council of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) in a five-day meeting which concluded in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday, had renewed the call for immediate withdrawal of foreign forces.
In quotations extended to Sudan Tribune, the opposition group also resolved to engage the international community on the renewal of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“In the light of the deployment of the IGAD Protection Force under UNMISS new Mandate, we renew the call for the immediate withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Sudanese rebel groups from the territory of the Republic of South Sudan,” partly reads the resolution.
“The leadership to engage UN, IGAD and Troika on the renewal of the UNMISS mandate and the composition of the peace keeping force,” it says.
Rebels said Uganda deployed troops to South Sudan days before the 15 December crisis, accusing the southern neighbour of interference in the internal conflict.
Uganda on the other hand argued it saved the leadership of president Kiir from collapse when the rebels were matching towards the nation’s capital, Juba, in January, as well as safeguarded its economic interests as the biggest exporter to South Sudan.
A cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January between the warring parties has not been implemented despite the agreement to withdraw all the foreign troops.
This month Kampala and Juba signed yet another strategic military cooperation agreement which makes it possible for Uganda to purchase military equipment on behalf of the South Sudanese government in case an arms embargo is imposed by the international community.
The rebels said the deal was unacceptable and would make Kampala an “accomplice” in non-compliance to the would-be arms embargo against Juba.
On the peace talks, the rebel group said it recommitted itself to the process mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia as well as appreciated the initiative of the Tanzanian ruling party in Arusha in trying to bring together the SPLM factions in order to address the root causes of the crisis which started within the ruling party.
SPLM-in-Opposition leadership meets in Nairobi, Kenya, 19th October 2014 (ST) The resolutions, however, explicitly stated that the Arusha initiative which is facilitated by the Tanzanian Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is neither a substitute nor an alternative to the Addis Ababa IGAD mediated peace process.
However, it urged members of the movement to contribute ideas to the items in the agenda which will discuss political, organisational and leadership issues in case the dialogue continues among the three factions.
“The ongoing Arusha Intra-SPLM Dialogue facilitated by CCM is an important process which should be concluded without contradicting resolutions of the Nasir Consultative Conference,” it further stated.
The resolutions also called upon the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) that initiated the intra-SPLM dialogue in April in Addis Ababa to contribute to the Arusha process.
The movement has reconfirmed federalism as the system of governance as adopted in the Nasir consultative meeting in April this year.
It also reiterates calls for reforms in all the public and security sectors in the country subject to negotiations in the IGAD-led peace talks.
In August, a high-level delegation of the opposition faction visited Uganda for talks with Uganda’s top leadership on the fate of its army deployed in South Sudan.
Last month, however, Machar’s delegation opened a liaison office in Kampala as part of efforts to promote its seemingly tense relations with the Ugandan government.
The newly established office, officials told Sudan Tribune, will coordinate diplomatic relations, as well as humanitarian, peace and reconciliation initiatives in Uganda aimed at realising a peaceful and sustainable solution to South Sudan’s ongoing crisis.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

South Sudan’s Warring Factions Agree to Talks Mediated by Tanzania not by IGAD - WSJ - WSJ

South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete and South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar reached agreement to hold talks on resolving a nearly yearlong conflict between warring factions in South Sudan.ENLARGE
South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete and South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar reached agreement to hold talks on resolving a nearly yearlong conflict between warring factions in South Sudan. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Warring factions within South Sudan’s ruling party have agreed to talks mediated by the Tanzanian government to help resolve a nearly yearlong conflict, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement officials said Tuesday.
Last week, delegates from rival groups within SPLM met in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha at the invitation of President Jakaya Kikwete to address the internal power struggle. Finland-based independent mediating group Crisis Management Initiative is facilitating the talks, which are slated to resume within two weeks, officials said Tuesday.
The intraparty talks are intended to complement the peace negotiations being mediated by the regional Inter Governmental Authority for Development in Ethiopia, according to Eemeli Isoaho, a project officer with Crisis Management Initiative.
The factions said in a joint statement Monday that the intraparty talks, although separate from the negotiations being mediated by IGAD, are “mutually interdependent and reinforcing.”
The Tanzania-mediated talks highlight growing frustration with the IGAD peace talks, which have repeatedly faltered since they started in January, compounding the ethnically charged conflict that is threatening to turn the oil-rich nation into a broken state.
Fighting erupted in December 2013 after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar. The conflict has since pitted Mr. Kiir’s ethnic Dinkas against Mr. Machar’s Nuer community. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, while at least 1.8 million others have fled their homes, according to aid agencies.
Oil production has slumped by 30% to 160,000 barrels-a-day and oil regions continue to experience the heaviest combat as both sides battle for control.
Write to Nicholas Bariyo at

South Sudan admits summoning its ambassador to Addis Ababa - Sudan Tribune:

October 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan government has unexpectedly recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia in a move an official described as "a normal administrative practice".
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South Sudan foreign affairs spokesperson Mawien Makol (Photo credit: citizen-news)
Family sources told Sudan Tribunethat David Dang Kong was asked by the foreign affairs ministry to return to capital, Juba within 72 hours.
But Mawien Makol, the foreign affairs spokesperson downplayed the incident, saying it was done within the ministry’s jurisdiction.
"This is a normal administrative practice to recall any of our diplomats for briefing at the headquarters on policy matters and for them to get other directives to help them be able to carry out day to today activities and foreign services with confidence while in countries of deployment,” he said on Tuesday.
Unconfirmed reports, however, say Kong’s summons were mainly due to his alleged involvement in covert activities with South Sudanese opposition forces.
“He is claimed to have leaked sensitive and classified diplomatic information to the rebels,” a source who preferred anonymity told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, sections of the Nuer community in Ethiopia have expressed fears that the summoned diplomat could be harshly treated if he returned to Juba.
“As a community we suspect something behind his instantaneous call,” said Peter Jack Kuon, a spokesperson for the community.
“We advocate for reinstating Kong if the government has no intention behind his immediate call,” he added.
Kuon also claimed that the first secretary at the South Sudanese embassy in Eritrea, David Mayan Gatkuoth, was previously summoned in a similar manner, but was never heard from again.
Conflict in South Sudan, which erupted in mid-December last year following a political dispute within the ruling SPLM party, has led to fierce fighting between government forces and those loyal to former vice president-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.
The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced over 1.5 million, has increasingly divided communities along tribal lines.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fresh fighting resumes between S. Sudanese rival forces - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

Heavy fighting has resumed between rival forces in South Sudan in yet another violation of cessation of hostilities agreement as the two warring parties trade accusations over who was responsible for the new upsurge of violence in the oil-producing Upper Nile state.
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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) on guard in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity state on 12 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
The fighting in two locations of Doleib Hills, south of the state capital, Malakal, and Achabnil or Zinc comes barely a week after peace talks to end the political crisis mediated by the East African regional bloc (IGAD) was adjourned in Ethiopia.
Speaking to reporters at South Sudan’s army headquarters in Juba, military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said troops belonging to the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) under the leadership of the former vice-president Riek Machar launched twin raids on separate locations early on Friday.
“The rebels of Riek Machar today on 10th October, 2014, at 6:00 am launched attacks on the positions of our forces in Doleib hill and Achabanil, as a result the fighting is ongoing in Doleib hill but our forces have repulsed the one on Achabanil. The general command at the general headquarters has communicated this violation to the IGAD monitors,” Aguer told reporters Friday.
He said fighting was still continuing in Doleib hill while the army repulsed the other attack in Achabanil.
Aguer categorically refuted media inquiry whether the government was responsible for the attacks.
“How do we attack ourselves? The rebels are talking to you media who do not know the geography of Upper Nile; who do not know where is Doleib hills, where Al-chap-al-nil and where is Malakal,” he said.
The rebel group has however dismissed Aguer’s version saying their forces were only responding to government’s continuous attacks and heavy artillery shelling which had been going on for a number of days against their defensive positions including relief centers.
“For over a week, our forces have been closely monitoring unusual movement of government troops and equipment in a number of active Fronts. In anticipation of imminent attacks, our combat and combat service support units were put on high alert and defensive measures put in place to thwart any attacks. This morning, government troops under overall command of Sector Commander, Lt. Gen. Johnson Gony Beliu launched coordinated attacks on our defensive lines at Dolieb Hills and Zinc south east of Malakal town, said Brig Lul Ruai Koang in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.
Koang further added that in retaliation they overran the areas and their forces were in pursuit of government’s troops who retreated towards the state capital.
“Government troops attacking Dolieb Hills and Zinc fled towards Malakal town with our forces in hot pursuit,” he added.
He said the opposition forces inflicted heavy losses on government troops and captured a number of war equipment including two T-72 Tanks and one Anti-Tank (B10) mounted on Toyota pick-up.
According to him, futile attempts by government to make more territory gains prompted the latest clashes.
“The military leadership of SPLA calls upon IGAD special envoys, the region and international community to condemn government’s intransigence and disregard to efforts geared towards finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing civil war. The latest assaults on our positions confirm government’s strong belief in a military solution. SPLA remains committed to all agreements but reserves the right to fight in self-defence,” he added.
Local officials and independent sources told Sudan Tribune on Friday that heavy gunfire and explosions were heard around Malakal town, forcing shops to close and residents to stay indoors.
Streets are said to have remained empty with no movement while places which provide essential services in town including restaurants, fuel stations and humanitarian agencies have closed or on standby.
Government soldiers have also placed roadblocks in some parts of the town in anticipation of assault on the town and asked for reinforcements from other locations.
Upper Nile state’s information minister, Peter Hoth Tuach confirmed in an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune from Malakal that “intense fighting” had erupted in two separate places outside the town and that government troops were moving towards the two areas for reinforcement.
“The rebels have launched an attack on the two places today, one on Doleib hill and the other on Achabnil. The one in Achabanil has already been repulsed by our forces but the fighting in Doleib hill is continuing,” Tuach explained.
He confirmed that situation inside Malakal also became tense as many shops were closed in fear the fighting might reach the town.
“Yes, some of the shops have been closed but others are still opened. The army is out patrolling the town and we have asked people not to panic because the fighting is taking place outside the town,” he said.
Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify the claims by the rival forces as clashes occurred in places which are inaccessible to non-military personnel, mostly in remote locations.
South Sudan is embroiled in a deadly conflict since mid-December when political debates within the ruling SPLM party turned violent with president Salva Kiir’s government battling against the rebel group led by his former deputy Riek Machar.
The renewed violence jeopardizes the ongoing IGAD mediated peace talks in Ethiopia in order to end the conflict. Both sides reportedly prepare militarily for coordinated full blown civil war.
Tens of thousands of people have died and over 1.5 million displaced for the last nine months.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

S. Sudanese rebels say change of peace talks venue unnecessary - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

Opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has distanced itself from the demand by president Salva Kiir’s government to change the venue of the peace talks from Ethiopia to Kenya, saying the call was an unnecessary attempt by the government to cause further delays.
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IGAD chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin (L) and the SPLM In Opposition’s lead negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, attend the resumption of South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa on 11 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
“Our leadership sees no necessity to change the venue. This would unnecessarily cause further delays in the peace talks,” Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Information minister and government’s spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth on Tuesday floated the government’s demand to change the venue from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where the two warring parties have been negotiating for the last nine months, to Nairobi, Kenya.
Lueth cited frustration in mediation as the reason in which he accused the former Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs and chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin of allegedly favouring the position of the rebel faction in the negotiations and called for his replacement.
Mesfin was in December appointed by the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to mediate between the parties in which he is also assisted by Kenyan envoy General Lazarus Sumbeiywo, among others.
He however hinted that the final decision on whether to change the venue as well as the chief mediator will be handled by the heads of state and government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
“The question of the change of venue and even the change of mediation is still holding. We have raised this,” Lueth told reporters on Tuesday.
“It is not me or the [government] delegation that would demand it, but [it] will have to be decided by the IGAD heads of states and governments because they are the very people who decided the mediators from 27 December 2013,” he said.
The minister also accused IGAD leaders in general and Troika countries of the US, Norway and UK of allegedly being biased and breeding regime change in South Sudan.
However, Dak questioned the motive behind the government’s demand to change the venue when progress was made in Bahir Dar.
He added that the rebel group had no problem with either Ethiopia or Kenya as venue but said it was seriousness by the parties to negotiate in good faith that mattered in order to reach an agreement.
“What would the government benefit from changing venues? Is it a delaying tactic that the regime is trying to pursue?” Dak inquired, adding that the best thing the government could do was to negotiate in “good faith to end the violence which their leadership imposed on the people of South Sudan.”
Kenya was the venue for the peace talks between the former SPLM guerilla fighters and the Sudanese government which took many years to conclude.
Dak accused the government of “dragging its feet”, saying Juba position was marred by contradictions as they agreed to federalism as the best governance system but at the same time refused its implementation as part of the would-be peace agreement.
SPLM-in-Opposition also demanded that the would-be prime minister shall be the head of government while the president takes ceremonial role as head of state, arguing that this is an arrangement which is widely practiced in parliamentary leadership systems.
The government has rejected the proposal, arguing that this would make the prime minister more powerful than the president.
IGAD mediation on Sunday announced it adjourned the talks until 16 October in order to consult with the principal leaders of the two warring parties.
Tens of thousands of people have died and 1.5 million more displaced when political debates within the ruling SPLM party between the two top leaders and their supporters turned violent and developed into a deadly conflict pitting Kiir’s Dinka tribe and their internal and external allies against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.