Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Machar accuses Uganda of fuelling South Sudan conflict

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Judy Miriga
To: "" ; "" ; Change Mombasa
Sent: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 7:56 AM
Subject: [changemombasa2012] South Sudan town of Bor partially in rebel hands

Maurice and Account,
I agree, but more surprising is the latest report. That Museveni had now declared open total war going after Riek Machar after sensing irreversible defeat. This is more interesting in that Museveni is headed for open ridicule, criticism and a serious public embarrassment. He is acting like Bull on heat, and would not hear about any reasoning. He will be beaten pants down e lela (in the open). It is hear the world will truly know who Museveni is.
Nyerere told Amin Dada after Amin medling with Tanzania "Nina haki, nina uwezo, nina nia na nina sababu ya kukupiga" I have Right, I have the power, I am willing and I have reason to beat you". Sure enough and indeed, in less than a month, Amin fell down from high to low in leaps and bound.
Museveni, is already getting fire from his MPs in Uganda. They are demanding to know why Uganda Army is in South Sudan, something Museveni had disputed saying Uganda Army is not in Southern Sudan except for evacuation of Ugandans in South Sudan. If it is that the Army is in South Sudan for evacuation, Museveni would not be meddling with the internal affairs of South Sudan.
I believe IGAD too has some explaining to do in this matter. I believe that, if Museveni was given greenlight to attack Riek Machar in South Sudan, he must have a good reason and as well, Museveni aught to have gotten okay from his Parliament which he did not and which has developed concern with explaining demands from Uganda MPs counterparts which Museveni must explain........Consequently, this must equally prompt demands for explanation why Uganda's Private Army killed and illegally occupied Migingo when Migingo is Kenyan Island, otherwise, Museveni Army must keep of Kenya's Island summarily without much further Ado. Museveni MUST pay for all loses with pains and sufferings incurred as a result of illegal and unconstitutional occupation and invasion from such insurgencies immediately.

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,

I will come for you, Museveni warns Machar

President Museveni at an earlier function in Luweero.
President Museveni at an earlier function in Luweero. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
By Risdel Kasasira & John K. Abimanyi

Posted Tuesday, December 31 2013 at 02:00
In Summary
President Museveni travelled to Juba where he has asked former vice president now renegade Riek Machar to call a ceasefire or face the wrath of Igad members
Kampala-President Museveni yesterday flew to Juba where he warned South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to embrace a ceasefire suggested by that country’s government or face “defeat” by the regional forces.
“We gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us. That is what we agreed in Nairobi,” he told reporters in Juba.
Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Fred Opolot yesterday acknowledged that he had been briefed about the stern position adopted by the Ugandan President but said: “The warning must be in line with the position taken by IGAD.”
IGAD member states include Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.
Mr Opolot said the President’s visit was part of IGAD effort to end the fighting that broke out on December 15 as a power struggle but has now turned tribal.
On Friday, leaders from the IGAD countries held special discussions on the fighting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and resolved that the warring parties immediately cease hostilities and embrace dialogue.
However, critics have questioned the language used by President Museveni, saying he has “overstepped” his position as President of Uganda.
“What Museveni is doing is not good for Uganda. It will cause us problems. Let him encourage the warring parties to dialogue but not take a one-sided view,” Aswa MP Reagan Okumu, the former Shadow minister for foreign affairs, said yesterday.
President Museveni visited Juba amidst reports that the White Army, a militia composed of Nuer youths reported loyal to Dr Machar, were planning to attack Bor, the capital of Jonglei, which was recaptured by government forces on Friday.
President Kiir, who sacked Dr Machar in July, accused him of starting the violence in a move to seize power – an allegation first denied by Machar. However, Machar has since retreated into the bush and acknowledged he is leading rebel fighters.
Meanwhile UPDF yesterday entered Heglig, the Khartoum-controlled territory and evacuated 110 Ugandans who were rescued from Jonglei.
They landed at Entebbe Airbase at 3pm. Mr Opolot said Khartoum government had cleared UPDF to rescue Ugandans from Heglig.
Meanwhile, an envoy of the Government of South Sudan yesterday said they will not free three key prisoners, whose release Dr Machar, had set as a precondition for talks.
At a press conference at the country’s mission in Kampala, Amb Samuel Luate Laminsuk said his government would not offer any concessions to Dr Machar. It, however, would accept him back if he put down his guns and drew to the discussion table.
Dr Machar told the media last week that he particularly wanted the release of suspended SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, before dialogue with Salva Kiir’s government. But Amb Luate said the government had released two of the 10-arrested former ministers, and was considering releasing more.
“Some political detainees will not be released because they were implicated in other activities, before the coup,” Amb Luate said. These detainees are the former finance Minister, Mr Kosti Manibe, former cabinet affairs Minister, Mr Deng Alor and Pagan Amum.
This creates a sense of uncertainty as to what direction the impasse will now take, especially as the four-day deadline given by IGAD for the start of talks between the Government and Dr Machar’s forces, expires today.
Explaining why there would be no concession ahead of talks, the ambassador said: “Riek Machar is a Member of Parliament and is the vice chairperson of the SPLM. He has not been dismissed from these posts…You can only concede to someone from a different organisation.” He added the Dr Machar should come back home and have dialogue with the government.

UPDF welcome
Asked to deny or confirm whether the UPDF was actively involved with his government’s forces in combatting the rebels, Ambassador Luate said: “I have no idea whether Uganda is fighting in South Sudan.”
However, he later said that UPDF’s welcome in South Sudan “depends on whether they (UPDF) want to evacuate people in one day or to go on and evacuate in other states”.
Status since conflict started
South Sudan government says it has fully recaptured the town of Bor and was in the final stages of recapturing the town of Malakal.
The government also says it is turning its troops to retake the town of Bentiu, which is still in rebel hands.The government says it has shut down 20 to 25 per cent of Oil Production in Unity State, but that in Upper Nile State, oil production was still at 100 per cent.
The current impasse is traced from what the South Sudan government calls an attempted coup on the weekend of December the 15, which the government has blamed on Dr Riek Machar, who was sacked as VP in July 2013. Machar denies there was ever a coup attempt.

South Sudan peace talks to open in Ethiopia - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

South Sudan peace talks to open in Ethiopia

Posted: Jan 01, 2014 2:55 AM CSTUpdated: Jan 01, 2014 7:45 AM CST
Associated Press
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) - Negotiators from South Sudan's two warring sides are scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia for peace talks late Wednesday, as the top United Nations official in the country urged both forces to bring the country "back from the brink."
Fighting continued Wednesday in South Sudan's city of Bor - a gateway city to the capital, Juba - a government official said. Bor is just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Juba.
Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, is the current center of ethnically-based violence stemming from the political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and ousted Vice President Riek Machar, the rebel leader accused of mounting a failed coup attempt.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence, says the U.N.
Machar said on Tuesday that he would send his forces from Bor on to Juba, but that threat was downplayed by Hilde Johnson, the U.N. representative in South Sudan, who said: "I think we need to take quotations with pinches of salt at this point of time."
Pro-Machar forces in Bor appear to be taking defensive positions, Johnson said. The Bor fighting has newly displaced about 60,000 people, the country's latest humanitarian crisis.
"On Jan. 1, the country is at a fork in the road, but it can still be saved from further major escalation of violence," said Johnson, who urged Kiir and Machar to use the new talks to move toward peace. "They can still pull the country back from the brink."
The U.N. is "gravely concerned" about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law, including the extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers, it said on Tuesday. The U.N.'s estimate of 1,000 dead was given days ago and the number of fatalities is believed to be higher as a result of the new fighting around the country, including in Bor.
South Sudan Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin labeled Bor a war zone on Wednesday.
Government troops pulled out of parts of Bor because they were concerned about having to kill the "young boys" who fill the ranks of the rebels, said one analyst.
South Sudan's military "was told to withdraw," Edmund Yakani, the executive director of the Juba-based group Community Empowerment for Progress, said, citing the accounts of contacts in Bor. "They communicated that these are young boys and we are killing them like nothing."
Government troops in Bor face renegade forces allied with a pro-Machar tribal militia known as the "White Army," so called because its young members of the Nuer tribe smear their faces with ash to keep insects away.
Johnson said that 240 U.N. police are scheduled to arrive in South Sudan later Wednesday who can help police refugee camps. The U.N. says up to 180,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence, including about 68,000 sheltering at U.N. camps.
"Even with the tremendous efforts made by health partners, sanitation conditions are still inadequate largely due to the large number of people sheltering in United Nations bases which have insufficient space to house these numbers," said Abdi Aden Mohammed, the World Health Organization's representative in South Sudan.
Although Kiir insists the fighting was sparked by a coup attempt mounted by soldiers loyal to Machar, this account has been disputed by some officials of the ruling party who say violence broke out when presidential guards from Kiir's majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar.
South Sudan has been plagued by ethnic tension and a power struggle within the ruling party that escalated after Kiir dismissed Machar as his vice president in July. Machar has criticized Kiir as a dictator and says he will contest the 2015 presidential election.
South Sudan's government, the U.N. and other analysts say the dispute is political at its heart, but has since taken on ethnic dimensions. The fighting has displaced up to 180,000 people, according to the U.N.
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

South Sudan government, rebels set for New Year's Day talks

South Sudan conflict
A United Nations armored vehicle passes displaced people walking towards the U.N. camp where they have sought shelter in Malakal, South Sudan, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. When violence broke out in Juba on Dec. 15 life remained calm but tense in Malakal, the capital of oil-producing Upper Nile state, but the violence then radiated outward from Juba and full-fledged war broke out in the town on Christmas Day, as army commanders defected and pledged allegiance to the country's ousted vice president, in most cases pitting the ethnic group of President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, against ethnic Nuers. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
By Carl Odera and Aaron Maasho
JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan's government and rebels are set for New Year's Day peace talks in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, to thrash out a ceasefire to end weeks of ethnic bloodletting in the world's newest state.
Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on Tuesday, mediators said, but fighting between government troops and militias loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar raged in Bor, the capital of the vast Jonglei state and site of an ethnic massacre in 1991.
"I'm worried that the continued fighting in Bor might scupper the start of these talks," said Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who is chairman of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) bloc that is mediating the talks.
"Hopefully both delegations will arrive tomorrow (Wednesday), start the talks and settle this problem once and for all," Adhanom told Reuters by phone from Addis Ababa.
Western and regional powers have pushed both sides to end the fighting that has killed at least 1,000 people, cut South Sudan's oil output and raised fears of a full-blown civil war in the heart of a fragile region.
It was not clear who controlled Bor on Tuesday night after a day of heavy fighting that started at dawn in the dusty town, which was held by Machar's rebels for a few days at the start of the conflict. Nearly 200,000 civilians have been displaced.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said ethnic-based atrocities, often carried out against civilians by uniformed men, have taken place throughout the newly independent South Sudan.
"This can lead to a perpetual cycle of violence that can destroy the fabric of the new nation," the United Nations warned in a statement. About 9,000 civilians are seeking refuge at the U.N. base in Bor.
The clashes erupted on December 15 with fighting among soldiers in Juba. The violence quickly spread to half of the country's 10
states, dividing the country along the ethnic lines of Machar's Nuer group and President Salva Kiir's Dinkas.
Kiir has accused his long-term political rival Machar, who he sacked in July, of starting the fighting in an effort to seize power.
Machar has denied the charge, but he has taken to the bush and has acknowledged leading soldiers battling the government. There have been conflicting reports on whether Machar was in full control of the Nuer "White Army" militia fighting in Bor, though on Tuesday he told the BBC they were part of his forces.
The fighting has revived memories of the factionalism in the 1990s within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the group that fought Sudan's army in the north for two decades. Machar led a splinter faction and fighters loyal to him massacred Dinkas in Bor.
Both the government and the rebels said earlier on Tuesday that they were sending teams to start talks in neighboring Ethiopia, though Machar told the BBC on Tuesday that he was not prepared to lay down weapons.
The U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, said the commitment to send negotiators was an "important first step" towards a negotiated settlement.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday that East African countries had agreed to move in and defeat Machar if he rejected the ceasefire offer, threatening to turn the fighting into a regional conflict. No other countries have confirmed any such an agreement.
"The town is still partly in our hands and partly in the hands of the rebels," Mayor Nhial Majak Nhial told Reuters on Tuesday from the government's military headquarters inside Bor, 190 km (120 miles) north of Juba by road.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said about 70,000 civilians had fled Bor and sought refuge in the town of Awerial in neighboring Lakes state, with no access to food, clean water or shelter. Others were hiding in swamps.
"Living conditions are verging on the catastrophic," MSF said.
According to United Nations figures, fighting across the country has displaced at least 180,000 people, including 75,000 who are seeking refuge inside U.N. bases.
The African Union said late on Monday it was dismayed and disappointed by the bloodletting that came two years after South Sudan won independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan.
The AU's Peace and Security Council said it would "take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite violence, including along ethnic lines, continue hostilities (and) undermine the envisaged inclusive dialogue."
(Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic and Richard Lough in Nairobi; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Toni Reinhold)


Machar accuses Uganda of fuelling South Sudan conflict

Former South Sudan vice president Riek Machar has accused President Museveni of fuelling fighting in the war-ravaged country.
Former South Sudan vice president Riek Machar has accused President Museveni of fuelling fighting in the war-ravaged country. PHOTO BY AFP

Posted Wednesday, January 1 2014 at 02:00
Former South Sudan vice president, whose forces have recaptured Bor, accuses Uganda of fuelling the fighting in the world’s youngest nation by sending soldiers and war planes in support of Salvar Kiir.
South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar has responded to President Museveni, accusing Uganda of fuelling the fighting in the world’s youngest nation. “We call upon the AU (African Union) and the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) to restrain the Ugandan government from fuelling the conflict by sending troops and war planes in support of the government of Salva Kiir,” a statement released to media said.
Dr Machar also welcomed regional calls for an end to the ongoing armed conflict even as forces loyal to him announced yesterday that they had re-captured the strategic city of Bor in Jonglei state.
Amidst unconfirmed reports of spreading ethnic killings, Dr Machar’s response came in the wake of Tuesday’s deadline for a ceasefire demanded by IGAD leaders at Friday’s Nairobi summit.
While in Juba on Monday, Mr Museveni warned Dr Machar to either agree to the ceasefire or face collective military action from IGAD member states. The rebels now say they are willing to talk, observing in their statement carried by the Sudan Tribune newspaper yesterday that: “We are ready to ceasefire immediately to stop the bloodletting once the government of Salva Kiir reciprocates.”
A seven-member body comprising Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, IGAD is taking a lead role in trying to end the conflict through dialogue.
But Dr Machar’s group said in their statement that IGAD’s efforts could be compromised by the actions of the Ugandan army. “If not stopped, the UPDF’s aggression may compromise IGAD attempt to remain instrumental and neutral in bringing an end to the crisis in South Sudan,” the statement said.
Uganda government response
State House sources yesterday took the view that the South Sudan rebel forces are missing the point. Presidential Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi told the Daily Monitor that Dr Machar was misguided in attacking Mr Museveni in person.
Mr Mirundi said Dr Machar should have instead directed his response to IGAD which sent the Ugandan leader to Juba. “The President was conveying an IGAD message, Machar never attended that meeting and so Museveni was representing. However, the Rwanda genocide taught the world and the international community a lesson and therefore, they can’t just sit and watch when people are being massacred,” Mr Mirundi said.
“Taking on Museveni as a person will not help, it should be the summit telling Museveni that what you said while in Juba wasn’t what we told you to convey but not Machar,” he added. Thousands of people are reported to have either died or been displaced in the conflict which has taken on ethnic undertones, pitting the Dinka tribesmates of Mr Salva Kiir against Dr Machar’s Nuer people.
Mr Museveni on Monday is reported to have told journalists upon arrival in Juba that “we gave him (Machar) four days and agreed that if he doesn’t comply with the agreement, then we shall have to go for him.”
Dr Riek Machar said he was committed to peaceful means of resolving the conflict. He, however, expressed concerns about the safety of several senior politicians detained by Mr Salva Kiir when the fighting broke out on December 15. “We call on AU and IGAD Assembly of heads of state and government to bring pressure to bear on the government of Salva Kiir to release unconditionally all the eleven politicians detained in Juba,” the statement reads.
Mr Machar and his group maintained that the conflict was not a coup attempt, describing government
allegations to that effect as “not acceptable”.
Explain army’s role in S. Sudan conflict, MPs tell Museveni

Posted Wednesday, January 1 2014 at 02:00
A group of MPs have asked that Parliament be recalled from Christmas recess to enable government explain the Ugandan army’s involvement in South Sudan’s conflict without House authorisation.
The lawmakers: Theodore Ssekikubo, Joseph Ssewungu, Abdu Katuntu, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, Medard Sseggona, Wilfred Niwagaba and Gerald Karuhanga made the call while delivering what they called their “New Year message” to Ugandans yesterday.
They also asked Uganda’s President to withdraw his warning to South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to either end fighting or face defeat by regional forces.
The seven MPs also called on the warring parties to exercise maximum restraint. “Article 210 of the Constitution is very clear. It says that Parliament shall regulate UPDF. What the President should have done is to explain to the MPs that we have deployed and seek Parliament’s constitutional mandate. This he has not done,” noted Mr Ssekikubo. He accused the President of inciting South Sudan leader Salvar Kiir’s Dinka against the Nuer tribe of rebel kingpin Dr Riek Machar.
“The statements by the Head of State are heavily loaded statements. Since when did President Museveni become a referee or belligerent in that country?” asked Mr Ssekikubo, adding that UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon only “asked him [the President] to use his good office to mediate between Riek Machar and not to incite violence”.
MPs’ warning
The MPs warned that President Museveni’s Monday statements in Juba places Uganda on a collision path with South Sudan and puts the lives of Ugandans there at risk. Mr Katuntu said South Sudan’s political problems cannot be sorted out militarily. “If we begin taking up arms and start shooting, this would be the biggest mistake we will have undertaken,” said Mr Katuntu.
Mr Ssegona remarked that Uganda’s involvement in the affairs of other countries might plunge the country into war. “You cannot be everywhere at the same time. We are in Rwanda, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Kenya and everywhere as we spend the country’s resources yet there is no medicine in hospitals,” Mr Ssegona said.
Mr Tinkasiimire said the President should not play the role of a “Fire brigade officer” who goes everywhere. “We expect him to deliver on his manifesto and not become a warmonger,” he said.
“We should be discussing electoral reforms at the moment and not meddle into the affairs of other countries. There is unemployment and urgent problems that need to be tackled other than fighting,” Karuhanga said.

Keep off Kenya affairs, Raila tells Museveni

Raila Odinga. File Photo
By Yasiin Mugerwa & Emmanuel Ainebyoona

Posted Monday, December 30 2013 at 02:00
In Summary
Response. Mr Tamale Mirundi, the President’s spokesperson, says Mr Museveni was only thanking Kenyans for voting against the wish of western powers not Raila Odinga.
State House yesterday hit back at Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga who asked President Museveni to stop meddling in Kenya’s internal affairs.
President Museveni’s spokesperson, Mr Tamale Mirundi, accused the former Kenyan Premier of trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, saying “the President does not meddle in the affairs of other nations unless the situation warrants his intervention”.
While in Kenya early this month during celebrations to mark Kenya’s 50 years of independence, President Museveni thanked Kenyans for voting against the wish of “Western imperialism”.
However, despite his disclaimer for not interfering in Kenya’s domestic affairs, Mr Odinga took offence.
Speaking at a memorial service in Butangi, Busia County [Kenya] at the weekend, Mr Odinga urged Mr Museveni to desist from Kenyan internal affairs.
“A very irresponsible statement was made during the 50th day celebrations, a very solemn occasion when the President of Uganda said Kenyans voted against imperial dictation that Kenyans rejected what they were being asked to do at the polls and even liken this election to a second Mau Mau revolution,” Mr Odinga said.
He added: “He implied that those people who were running those election were being sponsored by some foreign powers.”
The Kenyan opposition leader said Kenyans did not need advice from President Museveni.
“Kenyans know what they want, they know their leaders and they know what they want. They know what they want and they vote according to their choices. They do not need any kind of advice from
him,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Odinga lost the presidential race to Uhuru Kenyatta in the March 4 polls.

----- Forwarded Message ----- From: account146w qt4
To: ""
Cc: "" ; "" ; Change Mombasa ; Mabadiliko ; KOL ; VVM Vuguvugu Mashinani
Sent: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 5:51 AM
Subject: Re: South Sudan town of Bor partially in rebel hands

This Riek man has now neutralized president Uhuru's mission completely. The proverb goes like this; Africans do learn the hard way.

Sent from my iPhone

On 31.12.2013, at 20.40, "Maurice Oduor" <> wrote:


I'm glad that Riek Machar has taken Bor. That's the only way that Kiir will now agree to sit down to a negotiating table.
Human beings, especially Africans, only compromise when they are losing but never when they have an upper hand.

On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM, Judy Miriga wrote:
Good People of the world,
These are constitutional practical, justified and genuine isues that demanded a hearing of President Salva Kiir and it was wrong to
dismiss peoples Referendum demanding their democratic space
and unity for common good. It is fair to pay attention and hear from
both sides something IGAD Leadership with Museveni failed to do.
People of South Sudan are not basket of potatoes, they are human
beings and they have rights.......It is unfair to shut and close their
voices of reason............which is why, their voices must be heard.....
For this, I ask the world to keep Museveni far from South Sudan by
all means. He is the trouble maker in the Great Lakes Region of
East Africa and African all over the world shall not tolerate any of
Museveni's nonsense. Museveni must be stopped and accused for
insurgencies, terrorism, genocide and atrocities of South Sudan
people. He is a bully and he must be stopped.

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
Published on Dec 10, 2013
No description available.
Published on Dec 23, 2013
No description available.


South Sudan rebels take most of strategic Bor

Associated Press
By JASON STRAZIUSO 2 hours ago

The  United States special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth speaks to the media, as U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page, left, listens in Juba, South Sudan, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Booth told The Associated Press Tuesday that the  country's warring factions have agreed to attend peace talks in Ethiopia and that the commitment of both sides is
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Anti-government rebels in South Sudan took control of nearly all of a strategic city on Tuesday even as officials announced that representatives from the government and the rebels agreed to hold talks for the first time.
The announcement that talks would soon take place in neighboring Ethiopia was the first political breakthrough since ethnically-based violence began coursing through South Sudan late on Dec. 15. The violence has killed more than 1,000 people — a number that is believed to be a low estimate — and has seen the country's two most powerful ethnic groups fight each other.
The United States envoy to the region, Donald Booth, met with President Salva Kiir on Tuesday — their fourth meeting in eight days — and spoke on the phone with the former vice president, Riek Machar, who is accused by the government of having tried to carry out a coup, a charge he denies.
Booth told reporters in Juba that the commitment to meet by the two sides was a "first step but very important step" toward achieving a cessation of hostilities and substantive talks to resolve the underlying political issues that could bring a halt to the violence.
Earlier in the day, heavy fighting erupted in Bor, the contested provincial capital of Jonglei state, which is a short drive from the capital, Juba. Government troops battled renegade forces loyal to Machar including the Nuer tribal militia known as the "White Army," said military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer.
South Sudan's government had been warning of a looming battle for Bor, at one point saying 25,000 armed youths were moving toward the city. That number was later lowered but enough forces converged Tuesday to take control of most or all of the city, said a senior U.S. official who insisted on anonymity.

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Displaced women, including foreigners, queue inside …
Displaced women, including foreigners, queue inside the United Nations camp where they have sought s …
Bor is the town where gunfire hit three United States military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens on Dec. 21, wounding four U.S. service members. A pro-Machar commander who defected from South Sudan's military, Peter Gadet, mobilized "elements of the White Army" in a bid to retake the town, according to Aguer. The White Army is so named because of the ash fighters put on their body to protect themselves from insects.
The recapturing of Bor, which is only about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from South Sudan's capital, Juba, could give Machar an upper hand at the negotiating table. But international officials urged Machar not to move his troops past Bor toward the capital, Juba, said an international official who insisted on anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.
On Monday Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned Machar to report to the negotiating table, or "we shall have to go for him, all of us." Ugandan troops and several of their attack helicopters are already in South Sudan assisting the military, and international officials do not want to see more countries become involved in the warfare. Because of its long years fighting in Somalia, Uganda has perhaps the most seasoned military in East Africa.
Machar appears to be sending representatives to the negotiating table even though one of his earlier demands — that about a dozen high-level political prisoners being held by the government be released — has not yet been met. Machar has not repeated his demand in recent days that Kiir step down as president, the senior U.S. official said.
South Sudan has been hit by unrest since Dec. 15, when fighting among presidential guards later spiraled into ethnically-based violence across the country. Although an uneasy calm has been restored in the capital, Juba, violence persists in other parts of the oil-producing East African country. Rebel forces still control the oil-producing center of Bentiu, said army spokesman Aguer.

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A United Nations armored vehicle passes displaced people …
A United Nations armored vehicle passes displaced people walking towards the U.N. camp where they ha …
Regional leaders under a bloc known as IGAD last week set Tuesday as the deadline for Kiir and Machar to start peace talks.
Although Kiir insists the latest unrest was sparked by a coup mounted by soldiers loyal to Machar on Dec. 15, this account has been disputed by some officials of the ruling party who say violence broke out when presidential guards from Kiir's majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar.
South Sudan has been plagued by ethnic tension and a power struggle within the ruling party that escalated after Kiir sacked Machar as his deputy earlier this year. Machar has criticized Kiir as a dictator and says he will contest the 2015 presidential election.
The United Nations, South Sudan's government and other analysts say the dispute is political at its heart, but has since taken on ethnic dimensions. The fighting has displaced up to 180,000, according to the U.N.
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda. Associated Press reporter Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this report.

South Sudan town of Bor partially in rebel hands

South Sudan's strategically-important town of Bor was in danger of falling into rebel hands on Tuesday, as the mayor admitted they were under attack and had lost part of the city

South Sudan's strategically-important town of Bor was in danger of falling into rebel hands on  Tuesday, as the mayor admitted they were under attack and had lost part of the city
A South Sudan army soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, 497km (308 miles) northeast of capital Juba Photo: REUTERS/James Akena
10:51AM GMT 31 Dec 2013

Rebels against the government of President Salva Kiir have launched an attack on South Sudan's key town of Bor, wrestling part of the area from government troops and battling to control the entire area.
Bor, 125 miles north of the capital Juba, has been the focus of clashes between Mr Kiir's forces and rebel militias loyal to the former vice president, Riek Machar.
The town fell to the rebels in mid December, but was recaptured last week. Since then, residents have been bracing themselves for another attack by the anti-government forces, and in recent days thousands have fled in fear of an impending counter-attack by rebels – including an ethnic militia force dubbed the "White Army", reported to have been marching on the dusty town for days.
"The town is still partly in our hands and partly in the hands of the rebels," said Nhial Majak Nhial, mayor of Bor, on Tuesday morning.
Michael Makuei, the information minister, said: "This morning (the rebels) advanced to the centre. The fighting is still taking place."
A UN spokesman in Juba, Joe Contreras, said fighting started before dawn and involved tanks, rockets and small arms. He said the airstrip in Bor was also closed and that it was unclear who was in control of the town.
Thousands of people are feared to have been killed in over two weeks of fighting, pitching army units loyal to Mr Kiir against a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and mutinous army commanders nominally headed by Mr Machar. The conflict has also fanned ethnic differences between Mr Kiir's Dinka group and Mr Machar's Nuer clan.
Regional leaders have demanded a ceasefire be agreed by Tuesday – a deadline that appeared to have been ignored.
The United States, which was a key backer of South Sudan's independence struggle, has warned of a "very complicated, tenuous situation" and has sent a special envoy in a bid to kick-start negotiations.
The world's youngest nation plunged into chaos on December 15 when Mr Kiir accused his former deputy, Mr Machar, of mounting a coup. Mr Machar in turn has accused the president of using a clash between army units as a pretext to carry out a violent purge.
Mr Kiir has described the war as "senseless", but ruled out power sharing with the rebels.
"What power sharing? It is not an option. This man has rebelled. If you want power, you don't rebel so that you are awarded with the power," he said.
"You go through the process. When I came here I did not come through a military coup, I came because I was elected by the people.
"When there is fighting, you lose people. I don't want the people of South Sudan to die in a very reckless way that has been initiated now by my colleagues."


Sudan protesters call for president Omar al-Bashir to step down

Media blackout imposed after Khartoum gripped by anti-austerity demonstrations during week in which dozens were killed
Associated Press in Khartoum, Monday 30 September 2013 04.48 EDT
Sudan protest
Sudanese anti-government protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Khartoum on Sunday. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP
Thousands of Sudanese protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, chanting "freedom" and renewing calls for their longtime autocratic president to resign after dozens of people were killed in a week of demonstrations prompted by austerity measures.

The government, which has imposed a media blackout, moved to appease the rancour with cash, saying it would distribute money to half a million families to offset higher fuel and food prices in a country where nearly half the population lives in poverty.

The street demonstrations, which began after subsidies were lifted last week, have been the most widespread in Sudan since Omar al-Bashir seized power 24 years ago.

Waving pictures of protesters who died, thousands of people held a memorial on Sunday night for Salah al-Sanhouri, a demonstrator shot on Friday during an earlier protest in Burri, an old Khartoum district.

Women called for the end to the regime and chanted "freedom, peace and justice".

Residents cheered on the marchers from rooftops while nearby security forces were stationed in pickup trucks carrying mounted machine guns near the spot where al-Sanhouri was shot.

"The protests will continue and will reach a general strike. This is our aim," said Ghazi al-Sanhouri, a nephew of the dead protester. "We will keep uncovering the regime's brutal tactics in suppressing the protests by killings and atrocities."

Al-Sanhouri's father, Moudthir al-Reih, said: "This regime will come to an end … God willing it will be over."

Public discontent had been growing over failed economic and political policies that led South Sudan to break off and became an independent state in 2011, taking approximately three-quarters of Sudan's oil production with it. Critics also blamed Bashir for draining the country's coffers by battling armed rebel movements on three different fronts.

The unrest began in the city of Wad Madani, south of Khartoum, but quickly spread to at least nine districts in Khartoum and seven cities across the country.

The crackdown on thousands of protesters has left at least 50 dead, according to international rights groups. Doctors and activists put the death toll higher, claiming it stands at more than 100. The government has acknowledged 33 have died, including police officers.

In a latest blow to freedom of the press, Sudanese authorities also forced the country's largest daily newspaper, al-Intibaha, to stop printing, according to the paper's website. The country's largest paper is owned and run by an uncle of Bashir, Al-Tayab Mustafa. Mustafa could not be immediately reached.

Several dailies came under pressure to depict demonstrators as "saboteurs". The government also closed the offices of Gulf-based satellite networks al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia. Several newspapers were ordered to stop publication while others stopped voluntarily to avoid government pressure.

In an interview with al-Arabiya Sunday, Sudan's foreign minister defended the move, saying: "Media make revolutions".

"If the revolution is created by media, we have to be serious in dealing with it," he said from New York, where he was attending the UN general assembly.

Diaa Eddin Belal, editor-in-chief of al-Sudani newspaper, said editions of his paper were confiscated and they have been ordered to stop printing three times since Wednesday. Back to work on Sunday, Belal said that in one incident on Friday the papers had been on their way to distribution centres when he received a phone call from police telling him that there would be no papers that day.

"The government feels that its own existence is endangered and the press is playing a role in influencing public opinion … they want papers to turn into official gazettes that reflect only [the government's] point of view with no criticism or negative feedback," he said.

In a move aimed at pacifying a frustrated public, the government said on Sunday it would distribute one-off payments to families in need, raise the minimum wage and boost public sector salaries.

The official Suna news agency reported that the minister of social solidarity, Mashair al-Dawlab, ordered 500,000 families to be given 150 Sudanese pound (£13) aid packages in early October. It also quoted the deputy finance minister as saying the public sector salary increases would start at the same time.

Meanwhile, Sudan's main labour union said a rise in minimum wages promised since January would be implemented in the next two days.

Still concerned about lingering protests, however, the education ministry said on Sunday that schools would remain closed until 20 October. Schools have been closed since Wednesday after high school students led protests against Bashir in different districts of the capital.


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