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UN vows to support African efforts to end S. Sudan war

Home | News    Tuesday 16 June 2015
UN vows to support African efforts to end S. Sudan war
June 15, 2015 (JOHANNESBURG/JUBA)– The United Nations will actively contribute to efforts aimed at finding peaceful solutions to the conflict in South Sudan, Jan Eliasson, the deputy secretary general of the world body told the African Union summit on Sunday.

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People gather at a makeshift camp for displaced people at a UN compound in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, on 22 December 2013 amid fears for further violence (Photo: AFP/Tony Karumba)
"This war, this nightmare, must come to an end," said Eliasson.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced by the conflict, which broke out in the world’s youngest nation in mid-December 2013.
The deputy secretary general requested the continental body to take a position necessary for resolving the conflict, which undermines regional and international efforts.
Elisson also stressed the need for peace and national reconciliation ahead of the proposed power-sharing between the South Sudanese government and opposition groups.
African heads of state must find effective interventions to eradicate the scourge of war on the continent, Zimbabwean President and African Union Chairman Robert Mugabe said.
“Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the prevailing political instability and insecurity in some parts of our continent clearly demonstrates the urgent need to fully operationalise the African Standby Force (ASF),” Mugabe told a gathering of African heads of state at the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“We need to live up to our commitment to operationalise the African Standby Force by December 2015. This will be an important step towards the goal of silencing the guns by 2020, which is our pledge," he added.
Mugabe said peace and security were prerequisites for the achievement of the continental body’s developmental targets, including Agenda 2063.
“I am encouraged by the fact that we are making steady progress in this regard. We have to redouble our efforts in dealing with the issue of the unnecessary loss of lives of our young people in the Mediterranean Sea in their desperate need to reach Europe and other places,” said the African Union chairperson.
“This matter requires our collective and urgent retention. Concrete steps have to be taken to deal with this unfolding tragedy, particularly in terms of addressing its root causes such as poverty, war and insecurity, lack of opportunities, perceptions of good and life abroad as well as stamping out human traffickers and smugglers," he stressed.
The AU chairman said African countries must work together to eradicate xenophobic attacks similar to the spate of violence experienced in South Africa in recent months.
“While condemning the recent spate of barbaric violence targeted at foreign nationals…let us be cognisant of the fact that this is a problem that falls upon all of us and we should work together to find a solution. United we will not fail.”
“President [Jacob] Zuma has given us details of the programmes they have embarked upon. The government of South Africa will leave no stone unturned in trying to stem the violence.”
The high-level AU summit is being hosted by South Africa under the theme “2015: Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
Meanwhile, the African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told the summit that the recent Ebola outbreak had exposed the weakness of the continent’s health systems. She said the people dying on the Mediterranean sea and the victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa were driven by factors beyond their control.
“The lessons from the Ebola virus disease are that with African solidarity and resolve, we can find solutions to our challenges. The disease exposed the weakness of our health systems, especially public health. We must look at training more health workers and build our health systems and infrastructure,” she said.
“Excellencies, again we have been faced with the tragedy of many people dying in the Mediterranean sea and also the incidents of xenophobia. These are the people who leave their countries not out of choice, but out of desperation – to try and make a living elsewhere.”
The AU summit was attended by most African heads of state including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 14 June 2015
South Sudan: A critical battleground between China and USA (Part II)

By Steve Paterno
The rivalry of gaining influence in South Sudan between China and USA has predictably entered a dangerous phase. In early 2012, this author penned, a prelude to this piece, entitled, "South Sudan: A critical battleground between China and USA." At the time, South Sudan was barely few months into its independent status, after six years of undergoing a perilous self rule. Both, USA and China were poised to reap the benefits the virgin country could offer.
As a result, the US, which for all intends and purposes, midwifed the birth of the virgin nation, has endowed some sense of entitlement to mould the nation in accordance with its self interest. However, China was already muddling in the affairs of the country from the ground, with much concessions at stakes, since it is already exploiting much of South Sudan’s resources and market. As such, South Sudan, a courted virgin is left to make a hard choice for its future survival.
So, it happened that South Sudan is forced to gamble in between the two choices, with much proclivity accorded toward China. Several compounded factors could explain the inclination of South Sudan to lean toward China. For obvious reasons, China was already on the ground, taking advantages of the available opportunities. China also opened up its comparatively cheap commodities for South Sudan’s import. These, coupled with China’s policy of non disruptions of status quo in other countries, managed to secure a place for Beijing in Juba.
As such, the overzealous USA found itself left out of a virgin country it helped giving birth to. Nevertheless, the World’s supper power must somehow get in at all means possible. In order to gain access, America adopted an approach of using a stick as a leverage. Several instances can clearly demonstrate how suddenly the USA turned belligerent against what it perceives as its brainchild: the Republic of South Sudan and its people. For example, in 2010, upon discovering that South Sudan purchased light weapons and ammunitions from somewhere else other than USA, the American administration grew furious and threatened sanctions, not just against South Sudan, but also against Kenya, a country America accused of facilitating the sweet deal of securing the arms purchase on behalf of South Sudan. The irony of the threats of sanctions against both Kenya and South Sudan came despite the fact that America agreed together to support the modernization of South Sudan military and upgrading its capabilities.
The example above and many others clearly show America desperation of having lost leverage over South Sudan affairs and that it can go into length to reassert its influence. For America, fortunately, the current crisis unfolding the country is an opportunity to get in. America is seeking nothing other than a regime change in South Sudan for that purpose. The phrases such as "transitional government," "government of national unity," and "no business as usual" are all euphemisms for regime change in South Sudan.
The recently proposed IGAD framework for the next round of negotiations, which has America hand all over it, actually is calling for partition of a junk of South Sudan territory. The proposed agreement gives out the entire greater Upper Nile region (Jongolei State, Unity State, and Upper Nile State). Accordingly, the region must bear special autonomous status to be under the control of armed militias, depriving Juba of oil resources as well as threatening the territorial integrity of South Sudan. As absurd as this partition proposal sounds, it is also a grand plan of Khartoum regime, which all along is eyeing the resources of South Sudan and has been in sync with armed militias of Riek Machar to carve an independent Upper Nile out of the sovereignty of South Sudan to be under the Khartoum sphere. America and its purports in IGAD are inadvertently doing the work of Khartoum, either ignorantly or as part of the elaborate plan.
This then begs the question as to where is the other giant already on the ground, China, in all these scheme of things. China, unlike its intrusive rival, the USA, has rather been playing a totally opposite role. With much at stakes, China wants to see a strong South Sudan government that is capable of defending itself from both internal and external enemies. Therefore, despite calls by USA for an armed embargo against South Sudan, China thinks otherwise. The security and continuous flow of oil, which can only be achieved through strong government defensive capabilities, is China’s primary object in light of the crisis. China is also continuing with "business as usual" (an antithesis of America’s regime change), by executing developmental projects in the country.
With the way things stand on the ground, the government of South Sudan propensity toward China will most likely increase. The government could likely adopt the China’s approach of keeping the armed militias at bay to ensure oil flow and even opt out of any USA sponsored negotiations that will result into partitioning of region of the country and further jeopardizes the integrity of the nation.
As the battle among these two giants unfolds, it is of course the people of South Sudan who has the ultimate say for the finale. However, under the current duel, China holds sway against the USA. The USA only leverage now over South Sudan is that it keeps insisting saying that America is feeding South Sudanese, therefore, the people of South Sudan must dance according to the America’s tune. Teasing somebody after providing them with food, whether they are in need or not, is typically Unafrican and is certainly not a right foreign policy prescription. Perhaps, USA needs to re-evaluate its policies, especially its role in aids assistance. Otherwise, by bragging about food, the Africans will depict America as a bully kid in a neighbourhood who goes around, coercing to play with other kids’ toys on basis that they will not eat his mom’s cookies if they don’t allow him to play with their toys.
Related article
South Sudan: A critical battleground between China and USA (I)
Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com


Home | News    Tuesday 16 June 2015
UN panel of experts in Western Bahr el Ghazal state

June 15, 2015 (WAU) – A panel of arms experts from United Nations are in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state to probe crimes committed during the conflict.

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A woman carries water through a UN camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state (Photo: IOM)
The UN team of experts are headed by Vladimir Zhagora from Belarus.
Zhagora told reporters that his delegation has been touring the country to get information on the conflict, which started in 2013.
“We are trying to establish an open professional relationship with everybody in south Sudan whom we meet in states,” he said.
“We had been meeting government officials throughout the states and in Juba on issues of diplomacy,” added the senior UN official.
The UN secretary general appointed the five-member panel in April in response to a request from the Security Council’s resolution 2206 (2015), adopted on 3 March, 2015.
“The panel is inquiring information on who is obstructing the ongoing peace process on South Sudan in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa,” said Zhagora.
“We are also inquiring information on who launches attacks on the civilian’s population in South Sudan’s areas of conflict during this conflict,” he added.
The UN team will also seek information on those said to be blocking movement of humanitarian workers in areas most-affected by the war.
“The security council did not impose any sanction by this resolution,” said Zhagora, adding that council would decide what kind of sanction could be applied to some individuals in South Sudan.
The UNSC is considering a way to impose sanctions against both sides of the South Sudan conflict, which has continued despite several commitments by it warring parties to honour ceasefire deals.
The conflict broke out following disagreements within the ruling party (SPLM), killing tens of thousands of people and displacing nearly two million others since December 2013.
South Sudan strongly opposes calls for sanctions, saying such a decision would generate adversarial relationship and further aggravate the country’s ongoing conflict.


Home | News    Monday 15 June 2015
SPLM-N rebels repulse fresh government attack in Blue Nile: spokesperson

June 14, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) said its fighters repulsed a fourth government attack against the strategic area of Jebel Kolgo in the Blue Nile state.

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A photo supplied by SPLM-N reportedly showing vehicles seized from the Sudanese army in Blue Nile state’s Mafo in February 2013
On 22 May, the SPLM said its forces managed to repulse an attack by the Sudanese army against Jebel Kolgo area, 45 kilometres south west of the Blue Nile state capital of Ed-Damazin following two failed attacks on 11 May and 23 April.
SPLM-N official spokesperson, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, said they repelled a government attack on Jebel Kolgo on Saturday, noting the battle continued from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm (local time).
Lodi pointed their forces killed 18 government soldiers and destroyed 6 Land Cruiser vehicles besides seizing 10 Kalashnikov rifles and loads of ammunition, saying that two of their fighters were wounded in the battle.
Meanwhile, he pointed to the details of the battle which took place at Wad Abouk area in the locality of Al-Tadamon, west of Ed-Damazin.
On Saturday, the SPLM-N accused the government army of bombing the town of Wad Abouk leading to several deaths and injuries among civilians, demanding a swift international investigation on the incident.
The rebel movement pointed that its forces took control of the town for a while before it withdrew from it.
Lodi pointed that 57 government soldiers were killed while their forces suffered 4 casualties, saying they seized 4 Land Cruiser vehicles, 67 Kalashnikov rifles, one 82mm mortar, 11 RPG-7 rounds, 7 PKM mortar machine and a long-range communication device.
He also said they destroyed two Land Cruiser vehicles carrying long-range communications devices.
Blue Nile and neighbouring South Kordofan state have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and the Sudanese army since 2011.
The Sudanese government and rebel group failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement after a series of talks brokered by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in December 2014.
Since, the fighting between the warring parties resumed in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Home | News    Tuesday 16 June 2015
South Sudanese rebel leader meets Tanzanian president over SPLM reunification process

June 15, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar, turned leader of the armed opposition faction of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), has met the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, over the ongoing reunification process of three factions of the ruling party in the young country.

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SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar meets Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete, June 15, 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa (ST photo)
The two leaders met on Monday on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Rebel leader’s spokesman said the meeting centered on how best the Arusha intraparty dialogue on reunification could be complementing the Addis Ababa comprehensive peace process to end the civil war in South Sudan.
“The two leaders discussed how best to approach the Arusha SPLM intraparty dialogue as a complementary to the IGAD comprehensive peace process,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune when contacted on Monday.
He said the SPLM-IO leadership was committed to the intraparty dialogue which was addressing the root causes of the current crisis in the country in the context of the ruling party.
“You know the current national crisis started as a political crisis within the SPLM party before it developed national. If the rival party leaders can address those causes and accept SPLM transformation, reforms and leadership succession, I think they can also accept similar reforms on governance at the IGAD process,” he said.
Dak stressed that the Arusha reunification process would address democracy within the disintegrated ruling party including structural, organizational and leadership issues which caused the crisis.
He however said the process was not a substitute to the IGAD peace process and should not be misinterpreted to mean “mere reinstatement” of SPLM leaders previously dismissed “unconstitutionally” by president Salva Kiir following the crisis.
The rebel leader’s spokesman commended the Arusha roadmap agreement signed in January this year, describing it as a positive guiding document in resolving outstanding issues within the party.
“Our leadership believes that addressing the root causes of the conflict through the intraparty dialogue would positively reflect on the IGAD peace process,” he said.
But, he added, an intraparty agreement would not be an end in itself, ruling out what he said were misinterpretations by people who thought the rebel leadership would return to Juba if an agreement was struck by the SPLM factions.
Full implementation of a reunification agreement, he further stressed, was dependent on a final peace agreement in Addis Ababa that will resolve on all outstanding issues such as on governance and security arrangements and reforms outside the party’s jurisdiction.
President Kikwete’s ruling party of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has since last year been mediating between the SPLM in government (SPLM-IG) led by president Salva Kiir, SPLM-IO led by former vice president, Riek Machar and former detainees (FDs) led by former party’s secretary general, Pagan Amum in trying to reunify their ranks and file.
Observers say the process is expected to be complementing to the IGAD peace process to end the 18-month long civil war in the country.

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