Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

country

Governance, Corruption & Democratic Development Questions will guide Clinton’s African Policy-Snr Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan
July 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa's President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

File Picture:U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma speaks during a photo call after a brief meeting in Durban, August 8, 2009

Hillary Clinton views Africa not just as a place with challenges to address but also opportunities says Jake Sullivan, Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary for America. Speaking at the Foreign Policy Center briefing center at the Democratic Convention, Sullivan said to Hillary Clinton, Africa is not just made up of countries which need development aid and assistance but also partners who can work with the USA in addressing a range of global issues.

Issues of governance, corruption, and democratic development have been central to Secretary Clinton’s policy towards Africa and will continue to be, said Jake Sullivan in response to a question from Ben Bangoura of Allo Conakry.com on what Africa should expect a Clinton Administration.

The policy will be in the mold of the work the democratic flag bearer did as first lady and later Secretary of State, Sullivan said. From her multiple trips to the continent, Hillary Clinton has shown commitment to pillars like fostering economic growth, peace keeping, security, human rights, and democratic development said Sullivan.

“She is fond of reminding us on her team many of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African economies.  How we think about where the future growth is going to come from in the world is bound up in how we approach our policy towards Africa,”  Sullivan said.

In contrast to the recent Republican Convention in Ohio, the Democratic Convention seems to have more African faces present. Executive Women for Hillary ,a powerful coalition of executive, entrepreneur and professional women backing Mrs. Clinton has two African diaspora leaders Sarian Bouma and Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa  as State Co-Chairs for the DMV area.

0
Read More
South Sudan’s President Kiir Urged to Uphold Peace Accord
July 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Peter Clottey*

FILE - South Sudan President Salva Kiir, left, along with former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konaré, the AU High Representative for South Sudan, answer questions at the presidential palace in Juba, South Sudan, July 14, 2016.

FILE – South Sudan President Salva Kiir, left, along with former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konaré, the AU High Representative for South Sudan, answer questions at the presidential palace in Juba, South Sudan, July 14, 2016.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar has called for President Salva Kiir not to violate a peace accord signed last year by recognizing and confirming Taban Deng Gai as his replacement.

Machar spokesman James Gadet Dak says Gai’s nomination as first vice president could scuttle the peace process and create unnecessary discomfort and tension.

Efforts to replace Machar came after Kiir’s 48-hour ultimatum for Machar to return to Juba expired Saturday. Kiir had invited Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, for a meeting to resolve recent clashes between opposing groups loyal to the two men that have left at least 300 people dead.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission that oversees the implementation of the peace accord issued a statement sharply opposing news of Kiir’s replacement as first vice president.

“We recognize First Vice President Riek Machar as the legitimate leader of the SPLM-IO.  A change to the leadership depends on the IO itself, and we are not here to speculate as to any change of leadership,” the commission was quoted in the Sudan Tribune as saying.

Machar’s spokesman, Dak, says it is illegal to nominate Gai because he was fired from his post in the SPLM-IO. The peace agreement stipulates that if the first vice president is away for any reason, he would delegate a person to act on his behalf, according to Dak.

Supporters of the president say Kiir needs a partner to work with in the implementation of the peace accord, and the refusal of Machar to return to Juba inhibits the process. They also say the first vice president appears not to working to resolve issues with the president.

Dak disagreed, saying Kiir should have accepted a proposal by both the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to have a third and impartial force involved to improve security.

FILE - Rebel leader Riek Machar (C) meets with his supporters after landing at Juba international airport on April 26, 2016


FILE – Rebel leader Riek Machar (C) meets with his supporters after landing at Juba international airport on April 26, 2016.

Meanwhile, South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said Friday that a coup attempt led to the recent clashes in Juba, but he did not say who was to blame.

“There is no doubt that it was a coup,” Makuei said. “There are some ministers and civil servants who have not reported to work since the fighting started. … The council of ministers has directed that those people report to work this coming Monday [July 25] or face some consequences.”

But Dak says there wasn’t any attempt to overthrow the government.

“They like the word ‘coup,’ he said. “If it were a coup, I think it was the force loyal to President Kiir who attempted the coup, because they are the ones who fired the first bullet at our forces.”

*VOA

0
Read More
South Sudan ex-rebels accuse Kiir of plot to oust rival Machar
July 23, 2016 | 0 Comments
Once friends and now arch-rivals, South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar (L) and President Salva Kiir are both former rebel leaders who rose to power during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war (AFP Photo/Albert Gonzales Farran)

Once friends and now arch-rivals, South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar (L) and President Salva Kiir are both former rebel leaders who rose to power during Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war (AFP Photo/Albert Gonzales Farran)

Juba (AFP) – South Sudan’s vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar has no plans for an immediate return to Juba, his supporters said Friday, accusing his rival President Salva Kiir of trying to oust or even kill him.

Machar has not been seen in public since he left the capital after days of intense fighting this month between rival troops that left over 300 people dead and threatened to torpedo an already shaky 2015 peace deal.

Kiir had appealed on Thursday for Machar to return to Juba and work together towards rebuilding peace, pledging to guarantee his safety.

“There is no point to come back to be assassinated,” Machar’s spokesman Goi Jooyul Yol told AFP, speaking from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“Dr Machar is still being hunted around Juba,” he said, adding that “we don’t trust” Kiir’s security pledge.

“He has killed the peace agreement. The only way forward is a neutral force,” the spokesman insisted.

– ‘Devastating blow’ –

Kiir has rejected a proposal by the African Union to deploy a robust protection force in South Sudan and is also against beefing up the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS.

But Machar’s movement, known as the SPLM/A (IO), is in favour of a independent force.

“This is because South Sudan has no national armed forces, no national security agency. The existing armies are all partisan and ethnic in character,” it said in a statement.

The SPLM/A (IO) statement reaffirmed the group’s support for Machar’s leadership and denouncing what it said were government efforts to replace him with Taban Deng Gai, who was the chief negotiator for the former rebels during the peace talks.

Any attempt to change Machar’s role as chairman and commander in chief of the SPLM/A (IO) “is totally rejected,” the statement said.

“It will deal a devastating blow” to the government of national unity and the August 2015 peace accord which aimed to end a near two-year civil war in the world’s youngest nation.

The statement called on the government “to cease with immediate effect their ongoing military attempts to hunt down and kill (Machar) in their vain hope of installing Taban Deng Gai as the first vice president”.

“Salava Kiir can appoint him (Taban Deng Gai) first VP. That up to him. But he cannot (make him) chairman of the SPLA/IO,” said Goi Jooyul Yol.

Juba was rocked by days of heavy fighting in early July between government forces and fighters loyal to Machar which erupted as he was meeting Kiir in the presidential palace.

More than 300 people were killed and tens of thousands of people fled, escalating fears of a return to the brutal civil war that erupted just over two years after independence in 2011.

The latest violence in the capital echoed the fighting that first triggered the civil war in December 2013, when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

*AFP/Yahoo

0
Read More
The U.N. Appeals For $204 Million to Combat Africa’s Food Security Crisis
July 22, 2016 | 0 Comments
18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño

18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño

UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. food agency has declared its highest-level emergency in drought-stricken southern Africa and is appealing for $204 million immediately to purchase food and transport it to the region to help millions of hungry people.

World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin told reporters in a telephone briefing from hard-hit Malawi on Tuesday that the El Niño-induced drought — which also affected South America and Ethiopia — has devastated crops and caused harvests to fail in southern Africa.

Currently, she said, 18 million people need emergency food assistance in seven countries severely affected by El Niño — Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

But Cousin said WFP is anticipating an escalation in needs later this year and estimating that approximately 33 million people will be impacted by El Niño and the upcoming La Niña, which could bring severe flooding.

“This year’s crisis is a food availability problem,” she said. “We’re seeing alarming increases in people facing hunger in several countries.”

Cousin pointed to a more than 150 percent increase in people without enough to eat in Malawi — from 2.83 million in need last year to 6.5 million this year — as well as a 99 percent increase in Swaziland and a 53 percent increase in Lesotho.

She said the U.N. agency will be working to assist 11.5 million people in the seven countries by the end of March 2017.

That will require $549 million — including $204 million for immediate needs and to set up a pipeline to scale-up the operation as the region goes into the rainy season in October, she said.

“The message today is we have a drought … but we have an opportunity to prevent this drought becoming a severe crisis if we get out ahead of it and provide the food that is required,” Cousin said. “Malnutrition rates are climbing. … We don’t have people starving yet because of the lack of food. We are hopeful that we can bring the attention necessary and receive resources so nobody starves.”

She said WFP declared southern Africa a level three emergency — its highest level — late last month “because this is primarily a food security crisis.” The four other level three emergencies that WFP is dealing with are broader and cover all U.N. funds and agencies — Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.

*Time 

0
Read More
South Sudan Government Rejects Foreign Troops, Backs Protest
July 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Jason Patinkin*

Hundreds of South Sudanese protest in Juba, South Sudan against Foreign military intervention Wednesday July 20, 2016. Hundreds of people from civil society and political parties protested in Juba. This week African leaders have backed plans to deploy regional troops to South Sudan after recent fighting between rival forces left hundreds of people dead . (AP Photo/Samir Bol)

Hundreds of South Sudanese protest in Juba, South Sudan against Foreign military intervention Wednesday July 20, 2016. Hundreds of people from civil society and political parties protested in Juba. This week African leaders have backed plans to deploy regional troops to South Sudan after recent fighting between rival forces left hundreds of people dead . (AP Photo/Samir Bol)

South Sudan’s government on Wednesday organized a protest against the deployment of foreign troops to secure its capital after recent clashes between opposing army factions left hundreds dead.

The African Union this week called for a “regional protection force” to bolster a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in the East African country and separate warring parties. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has supported reinforcing the mission.

The spokesman for South Sudan’s former rebel leader Riek Machar, now first vice president, says Machar has also called for a “third force” to secure the capital, Juba, after President Salva Kiir’s forces bombed his house during the fighting that raised fears of a return to civil war.

The spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said Machar fled Juba and will not return, despite Kiir’s invitation, until such an outside force is in place.

Hundreds marched Wednesday denouncing the intervention of foreign troops.

“If the international community continues to bring in all their alleged military in South Sudan, we will fight them whether they come by air or by road,” protest organizer Ajongo Ajongo said. “We will be malicious. South Sudan will become even worse place than Afghanistan. Let the peace come from us. Don’t impose things on us. It will be regrettable.”

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said that “any deployment of a foreign force that is not authorized by the political leadership is going to be resisted.”

The recent violence has threatened a fragile peace deal reached in August between Kiir and Machar, who fought a civil war since December 2013 that killed tens of thousands and inflamed ethnic tensions.

Tens of thousands of Juba residents have been displaced, with many sheltering in crowded U.N. compounds.

*AP/ABC

0
Read More
China to send special envoy to Africa over South Sudan crisis
July 21, 2016 | 0 Comments
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir with China's former President Hu Jintao at a welcoming ceremony in Beijing

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir with China’s former President Hu Jintao at a welcoming ceremony in Beijing

BEIJING, July 20 (Reuters) – China is sending its special envoy for Africa to the continent to help with efforts to resolve the political crisis in South Sudan, China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Veteran diplomat Zhong Jianhua would visit Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, the ministry said.

Zhong would meet “relevant parties” and discuss how to continue to support African mediation efforts and urge the factions in South Sudan to implement the peace agreement, it added.

“China has always been an active participant and staunch promoter of the peace process in South Sudan,” the ministry said.

China and other mediators had been in close contact to find ways for the waring parties to end the fighting and restart talks, it added, saying the situation in South Sudan was complicated and that international community should put more focus on it.

China has energy interests in South Sudan.

China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) said on Tuesday it had evacuated the bulk of its workers from South Sudan but its operations were unaffected.

Many foreigners have been evacuated from South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, which is still recovering from a two-year civil war that started in 2013, killing tens of thousands of people and driving more than 2.5 million from their homes.

The latest fighting erupted on July 7 and lasted for four days. It was between followers of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end the civil war. The violence killed at least 272 people.

*Reuters

0
Read More
FIRST AFRICAN PASSPORTS GO TO PRESIDENTS OF RWANDA AND CHAD
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

The African Union wants to roll out the continental passport to millions of Africans.

0
Read More
AU Advisory Body Slams International Criminal Court
July 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Nick Long*

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, right, arrives in Kigali, Rwanda, July 16, 2016, to attend an African Union summit. He defied an international arrest warrant after public assurances from Rwandan leaders that he would not be arrested. He is wanted by the ICC for alleged atrocities in his country's Darfur region.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, right, arrives in Kigali, Rwanda, July 16, 2016, to attend an African Union summit. He defied an international arrest warrant after public assurances from Rwandan leaders that he would not be arrested. He is wanted by the ICC for alleged atrocities in his country’s Darfur region.

Ahead of an African Union summit that begins Sunday, a key advisory body of the organization has condemned the International Criminal Court, saying its focus has been limited to Africa since its founding in 2002.

The Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) does not speak for the AU. However, its statements echo the complaints of African leaders who have pushed for member countries to quit the Rome-based court, which has jurisdiction in 124 nations over alleged cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Last April, the AU charged the committee to come up with a joint position on the ICC. The committee is understood to have recommended that AU member states quit the ICC unless it meets three conditions, including giving heads of state immunity from prosecution.

That message was relayed in Kigali by ECOSOCC, which was chosen by civil society organizations across the continent.

ECOSOCC spokesman Joseph Chilengi told journalists in Kigali that the ICC is not independent, as it follows U.N. Security Council guidance. He argued that it would never indict North Americans or Europeans.

“The European Union provides over 70 percent of the ICC’s budget, something which also violates the Rome statute [that set up the court], which says that no one member state can pay more than 22 percent of the budget,” Chilengi said. “And as we know, he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Chilengi brushed aside a journalist’s point that the EU is not a state, saying that it behaves like one.

The ICC is funded by member states using a formula similar to the one used to fund the United Nations, which means wealthier states pay more.

Africa bias seen

Many people in Africa, including some African leaders, have argued that the ICC is biased against Africa. Of its 10 active investigations, only one is outside Africa. Kenya’s government is among several in Africa that have considered leaving the ICC.

Those who oppose leaving the ICC say withdrawal would leave African nations with less protection against human rights abuses.

Chilengi warned against a proposed amendment to the Rome statute that set up the ICC, one that would affect the U.N. peacekeeping forces known as the blue berets.

“The danger is this: If there is an amendment to the Rome statute that the blue berets will be allowed to arrest our leaders, then blue berets will not be allowed in member states,” he said.

Human Rights Watch commented that to give heads of state that are signatories of the Rome statute exemption from prosecution at the ICC would run totally counter to the statute.

HRW spokeswoman Elise Keppler told VOA that Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast oppose moves at the summit to promote the AU’s withdrawal from the ICC and raised objections at the discussions this past week in the Executive Council meetings.

South Sudan ‘catastrophe’

The summit also faces a crisis over recent deadly violence South Sudan, where the United Nations has warned that a “catastrophe” awaits if a fragile truce reached this past week in the capital, Juba, fails to hold.

At least 300 people in the city were killed between July 8 and 11, in fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his longtime opponent, First Vice President Riek Machar, before violence subsided.

It remained unclear how the 53-nation body would formally address the crisis in South Sudan, which is Africa’s newest nation and is not an AU member. U.N. officials said conditions in the impoverished country have been dramatically worsened by the theft of 4,500 tons of food supplies earmarked for the nation’s neediest civilians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has in recent days pressed the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, along with targeted sanctions against those found responsible for the latest fighting.  But no formal action has yet been taken by the 15-member body.

Decision on AU leadership    

The summit is also expected to make decisions on the leadership of the AU Commission, after current Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa announced this month that she was stepping down.

Officials are considering three candidates, including two foreign ministers, one from Botswana and the other from Equatorial Guinea. The third candidate is a former Ugandan vice president, who also is a former U.N. special envoy on HIV/AIDS.

*Source VOA

0
Read More
The World Cannot Afford to Turn Its Back on South Sudan
July 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Deepmala Mahla*

 Steven, a young orphaned boy from the recent fighting in Juba who has lost his family from the fighting in Munuki stands on July 12, 2016 in Juba . Many people have fled their homes after heavy fighting started in Juba, and spread to some residential areas in the capital of South Sudan on the eve of independence. Fighting resumed the day after independence and the numbers of casualties are reported to be in the hundreds. A cease fire was declared on the 11th by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar also reciprocated and declared a ceasefire. / AFP / Charles Atiki Lomodong (Photo credit should read CHARLES ATIKI LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Steven, a young orphaned boy from the recent fighting in Juba who has lost his family from the fighting in Munuki stands on July 12, 2016 in Juba .
Many people have fled their homes after heavy fighting started in Juba, and spread to some residential areas in the capital of South Sudan on the eve of independence. Fighting resumed the day after independence and the numbers of casualties are reported to be in the hundreds. A cease fire was declared on the 11th by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar also reciprocated and declared a ceasefire. / AFP / Charles Atiki Lomodong (Photo credit should read CHARLES ATIKI LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)

JUBA, South Sudan — On a day when people should have been celebrating five years of South Sudan’s independence, many were running for their lives.

Some 300 have been killed in explosions and large-scale exchanges of gunfire that began Friday, July 8, in South Sudan’s capital of Juba. The violence, which coincided with this new nation’s independence day, is igniting grim new fears that the world’s youngest country may be sliding even deeper into civil war.

This latest violence is a major setback for the millions of South Sudanese people who have already suffered through three long years of war.

Many foreigners and aid workers are now being evacuated. At least 42,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were displaced from their homes at the height of last week’s fighting. As gunfire broke out in the city, colleagues of mine texted me saying, “We are in danger here, I don’t know what to do,” and, “There is heavy shooting in our area. It is not safe.” One staff member who is in her eighth month of pregnancy told me she thought she was about to deliver prematurely as the stress piled up with gunfire going off around her. Phone lines were overloaded, and when I was finally able to reach another colleague to confirm that he got home safely, he responded, “Yes, I did, but I passed three dead bodies on the way.”

Other co-workers reported lying flat on the road as bullets whizzed above them indiscriminately. There has been widespread looting, and friends and peers have reported the shelling and gunfire even hit humanitarian compounds and killed two U.N. peacekeepers. At the compound where Mercy Corps works, we were locked in a room, sitting on the ground as we heard heavy shooting all around us. We felt explosions and could feel the window panes shake while we saw helicopter gunships circling over.

The fierce outburst in South Sudan is immensely discouraging for a hopeful country with such an energetic young population, and with an overwhelming desire to succeed. While the political situation here has always been tense, no one expected things to deteriorate this quickly.

Since 2013, about 2.3 million people across the country have been forced to flee their homes. In August 2015, the two sides signed a peace agreement, although both sides expressed reservations and the agreement has not yet been successfully enforced — and the South Sudanese have yet to see the benefits.

Currently, the country faces the highest rate of inflation in the world and is in the midst of an economic crisis. Severe hunger looms for more than 6 million people across the country.

President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice President Riek Machar, declared a cease-fire Monday. The declaration is largely holding thus far, but it is unclear if all armed parties will heed this call for calm in the long run. If this embattled country wants to keep hope alive for a lasting peace, it is imperative that this cease-fire holds and the bloodshed does not spread.

Despite this alarming violence in the capital, my team at Mercy Corps’ work in South Sudan continues. All of our staff is safe and accounted for, but mounting tensions make everyone nervous.

With thousands of newly displaced people in immediate need of health care, water and sanitation, and the rainy season increasing the chance of waterborne and infectious disease spreading, Juba is in need of assistance more than ever.

Organizations like ours are ready to help fulfill these urgent needs, but first we must ensure that this cease-fire survives, and that safe passage for humanitarian actors is guaranteed. Destruction and damage to humanitarian facilities is unacceptable and must stop.

Mercy Corps has worked in South Sudan since 1995. In addition to providing clean water and sanitation services and operating schools for children, we deliver essential supplies such as fishing and farm tools, and create jobs through cash-for-work projects such as dyke construction, designed to prevent flooding of farmland. These efforts go a long way toward securing a stronger future for the people of South Sudan, but this progress is now under grave threat.

On top of the conflict, the rainy season has made it markedly more difficult and expensive to transport commodities through much of the country. Some of our staff members — almost all of whom are from South Sudan — walk through waist-high water and hike hours to get supplies to families in need.

In Juba, several people in our team have had to flee their homes in the past few days and seek shelter with relatives or in churches. One member has been at her church since July 8 — she went home only briefly to get food and then immediately returned to the church. This trend is becoming more and more necessary for many living around Juba.

A community needs assessment that we completed on July 14 found that while more civilians are moving throughout Juba, and shops are reopening as a result of the cease-fire, many people still find the atmosphere tense and worrying. One resident whose family’s house has been damaged by shelling said, “We want to go home, but where is home now?”

The South Sudanese are a resilient people who embrace life. I have long heard people here talk hopefully about what life will be like “when peace comes.” This week, as the delicate cease-fire takes shape, our staff members report that shopkeepers are trying to reopen businesses, but in some places there is nothing left to sell. During the lead-up to this most recent round of violence, after so many delays and impediments in the implementation of the August 2015 peace deal in which tension grew, I noticed on more than a few occasions that the conversation had shifted to not “when” but “if peace comes.”

We strongly urge all parties to uphold the truce so that this conflict may be brought to a quick and peaceful resolution. Bodies like the African Union and theIntergovernmental Authority for Development must take more robust action to back a cease-fire and hold all parties accountable.

The international community must sustain its interest in South Sudan. The headlines will fade, but the needs will not. South Sudan is a country on a precipice, and all of our help and attention is needed now, and in the months to come, if this new country is to realize its bright future.

*Source HuffPost.Author is Country Director for Mercy Corps South Sudan

 

0
Read More
South Sudan’s vice president leaves Juba, not seeking war – spokesman
July 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Denis Dumo*

South Sudan First Vice President Riek Machar attends a news conference at the Presidential State House following renewed fighting in South Sudan's capital Juba, July 8, 2016. Picture taken July 8, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

South Sudan First Vice President Riek Machar attends a news conference at the Presidential State House following renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba, July 8, 2016. Picture taken July 8, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan’s vice president has withdrawn with his troops to outside of Juba but is not planning for war, his spokesman said on Wednesday, as a ceasefire that ended heavy fighting with the president’s forces entered its third day.

Forces loyal to longtime rivals Vice President Riek Machar’s forces and President Salva Kiir fought street battles in the capital during a five-day period until a ceasefire was reached on Monday.

The events mirror those of December 2013, when a two-year civil war began after Machar, sacked from his post as Kiir’s deputy, withdrew his forces from Juba and launched a full-scale insurgency.

“We had to move away from our base (in Juba) to avoid further confrontation,” Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak in Nairobi told Reuters, saying he was in contact with Machar’s forces. “He is around the capital. I cannot say the location.”

It was not clear what caused the latest rift between the two men who have long jostled for power, even before South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011. The flare-up was apparently sparked on Thursday when Kiir’s forces stopped and demanded to search vehicles with Machar’s troops.

Gatdet Dak said Machar would stay away from Juba until ceasefire details were worked out.

“He is not returning to the bush, nor is he organising for war,” the spokesman said, calling for an outside force to be deployed to act as a “buffer” between Machar and Kiir’s forces.

Other demands from Machar’s side are to implement a joint command, an integrated armed force and a joint police force securing Juba, all issues laid out in a peace deal but not yet implemented, said Gatdet Dak.

“This is the time for diplomacy … in an attempt to return the government of national unity into its position,” said Ateny Wek Ateny, the spokesman for President Kiir, adding Kiir had held a cabinet meeting with some opposition members on Tuesday.

In another apparent parallel with 2013, Uganda said it was sending troops to South Sudan but this time they would only help evacuate Ugandans, Uganda government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said. In 2013, they had entered at Kiir’s invitation to support his government as well help with evacuation, Opondo said.

The latest upsurge in fighting has left many South Sudanese angry and uncertain.

“Both Kiir and Machar should be held responsible for the killing of their own people, and for their soldiers who looted our property and killed my husband,” said a tearful Juba resident Rose Juru, 28.

Kiir and Machar signed the peace deal in August 2015, but spent months arguing over details. Machar returned to Juba in April and was reinstated as Kiir’s deputy, a move that was meant to help cement the process.

Regional African states have suggested sending in forces to beef up the U.N. mission UNMISS with a tougher mandate to enforce peace, instead of a narrow focus to protect civilians.

Gatdet Dak said Kiir’s helicopter gunships had pursued Machar’s forces and attacked Machar’s residence in his compound in Juba on Tuesday, although he said Machar had left Juba by that time. There was no presidential comment on the charge.

*Reuters/Yahoo

0
Read More
The African Union can and must intervene to prevent atrocities in South Sudan
July 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

The challenge facing the African Heads of State and Government as they meet in Kigali this week is not whether but how to act in South Sudan.

African peacekeepers training as part of a hybrid AU-UN operation. Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

African peacekeepers training as part of a hybrid AU-UN operation. Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

When the security arrangements of South Sudan’s fragile peace agreement collapsed last week, fighting returned and attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers ensued. This presents an enormous and difficult challenge, but one to which the African Union (AU) must respond and can respond – if the necessary political decisions are taken.

In August of last year, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan was pressed on a reluctant President Salva Kiir and his rival First Vice-President Riek Machar. Its fatal flaw, however, was that it restored South Sudan to precisely the same state of political rivalry between armed contenders that had existed before the war erupted in December 2013 – and which was the cause of that war.

Under the terms of the pact, the troops of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) were joined in the capital Juba by those of the SPLA-In-Opposition despite the fact that the two remained unreconciled and deeply distrustful of each other. It was an explosion waiting to happen.

 

Last week it did happen, and since last Friday there has been intense fighting between the rival factions, including attacks on civilians in towns and cities throughout the country. Government forces have shelled the Protection of Civilians sites within UN bases, probably because they suspect opposition fighters are taking refuge there. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to churches, UN bases and anywhere they hope they can find safety, joining the 200,000 or so driven from their homes in the previous two and a half years. And South Sudanese soldiers have attacked peacekeepers, leading to the deaths of two Chinese soldiers serving under the UN flag.

 

On 10 July, the UN Security Council called for African countries to prepare additional troops for deployment in South Sudan, should they be required. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers met the following day and called for an African intervention brigade with a mandate to secure Juba and also called for the revision of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan’s (UNMISS) mandate.  The AU Peace and Security Council also met and put the crisis at the top of the agenda for the forthcoming African summit meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, later this week.

The site of this upcoming summit is deeply symbolic. 22 years ago, genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda, and UN troops abandoned the country, including letting thousands of trapped civilians face certain death at the hands of the murderous Interahamwe militia. This failure sparked transformative changes in how African nations would envision their role and empower themselves to act in the name of collective security, culminating in the creation of the African Union in 2002.

In Article 4(h) of its Constitutive Act, African leaders endowed the AU with the right to intervene in a country in the case of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes – a principle known as ‘non-indifference’. According to the AU Commission of Investigation into South Sudan, chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and whose report was released in October 2015, crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed in South Sudan by both warring parties in the conflict that broke out in December 2013. There is every reason to fear the renewed conflict is already resulting in similar crimes.

The African Peace and Security Architecture, established painstakingly over the last 14 years, includes an intervention mechanism – the African Standby Force – for precisely the kind of urgent peace support operation needed in South Sudan today. And at the last AU summit in January, the Standby Force was declared operational.

Furthermore, the African Union has a particular responsibility in South Sudan. In line with the August peace agreement, the AU is responsible for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, chaired by former Botswanan President Festus Mogae. It is clear that, despite his efforts, the current formula that entrusts the country’s political leaders with implementation of the agreement and the security of South Sudan’s citizens is no longer viable.

Protection and justice

There should of course be no illusions that the African intervention brigade will have an easy task. South Sudan is heavily armed and lawless. Key military actors do not want to see a peaceful settlement, and an African intervention force will need to enter South Sudan prepared to face down the warmongers.

Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are calling for calm in South Sudan despite the reality that the control they have over their supporters seems to be diminished. But if they are serious about this appeal, they should be asked formally to endorse the need for an intervention force to be deployed speedily.

 

Thereafter, the AU should implement its own proposals for a legal process to bring to court those – on all sides – who perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of South Sudan. These men should have no place in the future of a country whose people they have so grievously betrayed.

The challenge facing the African Heads of State and Government as they meet in Kigali is not whether but how to act in South Sudan. Africa’s leaders have the authority and means to act to protect the lives of tens of thousands of South Sudanese people and prevent the nation from descending into war, atrocity and famine.

*African Arguments.Mulugeta Gebrehiwot is director of the African Peace Missions Program at the World Peace Foundation whose report on African peace missions, African Politics, African Peace, is released next week.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundati

0
Read More
AP EXPLAINS: Why South Sudan Is Again Torn by Fighting
July 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

By CARA ANNA*

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar come to an agreement to end the conflict and form a government of national unity in August 2015 [The Associated Press]

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar come to an agreement to end the conflict and form a government of national unity in August 2015 [The Associated Press]

An uneasy calm settled over South Sudan’s capital on Tuesday after the country’s leader and his top rival both demanded a cease-fire. Renewed fighting between opposing army forces has raised fears of a return to civil war in the East African country, which marked its fifth anniversary of independence over the weekend while panicked residents hid inside their homes. A look at the situation for the nation’s estimated 12 million people:

———

WHERE DID THIS TENSION BEGIN?

Largely Christian South Sudan won its independence from Sudan, a majority Muslim country, in 2011 after years of fighting. With oil resources supporting the young economy, optimism was high. But tensions emerged between the country’s top leaders, President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, and their supporters. In December 2013, soldiers loyal to either side skirmished in the capital, Juba, and the fighting spread to other parts of the country. The violence was especially worrying because it divided South Sudan along ethnic lines. Many supporters of the president were Dinka and supporters of Machar, now a rebel leader, were mostly Nuer. As fighting raged into 2015, tens of thousands of people were reported killed, and an estimated 2 million people fled their homes. Troops on both sides were accused of horrific human rights abuses, including gang rapes and murders of civilians along ethnic lines.

———

WASN’T A PEACE DEAL REACHED?

Yes. In August 2015, after intense pressure from the international community, Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement that called for a two-year transitional government before new elections. In April, Machar returned to the capital to again take up the post of vice president, saying that “peace is the only choice for us to relieve our people the undeserved suffering associated with armed conflict enforced upon them.” But fighting continued in parts of the country.

———

WHAT CAUSED THE LATEST FIGHTING?

South Sudan’s opposing army factions have been stationed in Juba since April as part of the peace deal and are meant to hold joint patrols, but they have yet to work together and remain in separate areas. On Thursday, soldiers from the opposing factions exchanged gunfire in Juba, leaving five dead. A day later, as Kiir and Machar met at the presidential compound about the incident, heavy gunfire erupted outside and spread to other parts of the capital. The fighting continued on and off until both Kiir and Machar issued cease-fire calls Monday night. Despite the relative calm, some embassies, international organizations and businesses have started evacuating workers from South Sudan, a further blow to its severely weakened economy and to its ongoing humanitarian crisis.

*AP/ABC

0
Read More
1 270 271 272 273 274 283