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.