Zimbabwe students take Mugabe to court over PhD

Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe students union takes President Robert Mugabe to court over the awarding of a controversial doctorate of philosophy degree to Grace Mugabe.

Zimbabwe students union takes President Robert Mugabe to court over the awarding of a controversial doctorate of philosophy degree to Grace Mugabe. (Reuters)

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) said they also want clarification on the doctorate awarded to Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who graduated on the same day as Grace, with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Faculty of Commerce. Mujuru’s thesis though, is on the University of Zimbabwe’s (UZ) website unlike Mugabe’s.

Zinasu’s president Gilbert Mutubuki said the union had engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to assist them in their bid for Mugabe and UZ administration to justify the awarding of the doctorates. He said students and other interested parties had failed to get an explanation from the institution.

President Robert Mugabe, who capped both his wife and Mujuru, will be cited in his capacity as the chancellor of the university while UZ’s vice chancellor, who oversees the day to day running of the institution, will also be cited.

Mutubuki said the students expect to file their application in the High Court on Wednesday.

“We have decided to take the University of Zimbabwe to court and we will cite both the chancellor and the vice chancellor. We are working with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and our aim is to file our papers on Wednesday,” said Mutubuki shortly after a meeting with the lawyers.

“As students we believe we have the locus standi to file such an application. We want to protect the image and reputation of the University of Zimbabwe hence our action. “We believe politicians should not abuse the University of Zimbabwe or its staff to fight their factional wars.

“We understand that both the Vice President [Mujuru] and the President’s wife have very high political ambitions, but they should not use the UZ to achieve their goals.”

Factions
Mujuru is believed to be leading a faction that is angling to control Zanu PF in the post-Mugabe era, while Grace recently entered mainstream politics and is also seeking a high office. Mutubuki said the union was lobbying parliamentarians to raise a motion and also investigate how the doctorates were awarded.

“We are doing this because this matter is bigger than students. It’s a national issue which has consequences for the entire education sector. This is why we are taking a stand,” he said.

Intimidation
Last week Zinasu wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda asking for the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher and tertiary education to investigate circumstances under which Grace was awarded her doctorate. The letter was copied to Nyagura and the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Dr Olivia Muchena.

Mutubuki said he was being intimidated for challenging those in authority to justify the awarding of Grace’s PHD, but said he would soldier on.

“I have received numerous calls from private numbers and some people claiming to be from Team Mai Mugabe. They are threatening me and warning me to stop talking about this issue. Some of them actually came to my home on Saturday but I was not there, but this intimidation will not stop us. Actually it motivates us because we want to see justice prevailing,” he said.

“I have also been warned that I risk being expelled from the university, but I will fight on because I have done nothing wrong.”

Mutubuki said Zimbabweans should not stop debating the issue and demanding answers, adding that the student body was organising a public meeting this week where the matter will be discussed. He said respected academics would be invited to give their opinions and participate in the debate.

Despite pressure from ordinary Zimbabweans, students, alumni and academics that UZ publish Mugabe’s thesis and reveal her registration details and the names of her supervisors, the institution has remained tight-lipped.

The university’s public relations department promised to issue a statement a fortnight ago but had not done so. It is known that Mujuru received her undergraduate degree from the Women’s University in Africa as well as a master’s in Strategic Management.

She also graduated with a master’s degree in Entrepreneurial Development from Chinhoyi University of Technology. Mutubuki, however, said they were keen to establish when she started her studies with UZ although her thesis is on the institution’s website.

Grace Mugabe ‘poor student’
Grace on the other hand has previously made headlines for being a poor student. In 1998, local media reported that she failed all three subjects she was tested for at the University of London where she was studying for a bachelor of arts degree in English. She was eventually deregistered by the university after failing most of her examinations.

She failed explorations in literature I (9%), explorations in literature II (18%), and renaissance comedy: Shakespeare and Jonson (17%). The following year she repeated the three subjects, but again failed explorations in literature I (31%), renaissance comedy: Shakespeare and Jonson (29%). She, however, improved in explorations in literature II, gaining 42%. In the same year she attempted an additional subject, approaches to text, but failed, scoring only 7%.

Zimbabwe students view PhD for president’s wife as an ‘insult’

The Zimbabwe National Students Union condemns university Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura for condoning Grace Mugabe’s bogus doctorate.

Grace Mugabe's PhD, awarded just months after she enrolled for the course, has incited protest among Zimbabwean students who view it as a 'sham'. (Aaron Ufumeli)

The Zimbabwe students union, on Friday, demanded the resignation of authorities at the country’s top university after it awarded a “miraculous” doctorate to President Robert Mugabe’s wife.

The PhD was granted to Grace Mugabe, a 49-year-old former typist in the president’s office, two weeks ago – just months after she enrolled for the course.

Mugabe’s wife – who was capped by her husband, President Robert Mugabe along with other graduates – was awarded the degree soon after she was endorsed to lead the ruling party, ZANU-PF’s women’s wing.

The surprise endorsement worsened tensions in a party ridden with factionalism over Mugabe’s succession.

The awarding of the degree is seen as a corrupt means of buttressing her credentials as she seeks political office – and possibly the presidency when Mugabe dies.

“Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura and all who took part in this scam should resign for their pro-active or non-reactive roles in engineering the fake doctorate,” Gilbert Mutubuki, president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said in a statement.

ZINASU said the degree awarded to Grace was “a serious insult to the students, the intelligentsia, doctors, professors and lecturers associated with the University of Zimbabwe.”

Despite the criticism, state-owned companies have splashed newspaper advertisements congratulating the First Lady, with one company saying “her achievement shall always serve as an inspiration to all Zimbabweans as the country moves towards attaining universal education.”

Mutubuki said: “Any recipient of such a sham miraculous doctorate should feel ashamed unless their sense of humanity and guilty conscience is no more.”

The University of Zimbabwe has not commented on the matter but has promised to issue a statement. –AFP  M&G

Nigeria and Senegal containing ebola, according to US

BBC

Ebola contained in Nigeria, Senegal – US health officials

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer to screen Muslim pilgrims for Ebola at the Hajj camp before boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, Sept, 18.Nigeria quickly established an emergency operations centre to help trace the possible spread of the virus

The Ebola virus may have been contained in Nigeria and Senegal, US health authorities say, after no new cases were reported there for almost a month.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the outbreak could be declared over in Nigeria next month.

It continues, however, in other parts of West Africa, in particular Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 3,000 people have died of the virus so far, mostly in Liberia.

The current outbreak is the most deadly Ebola outbreak in history.

The new head of the UN’s Ebola response team urged rapid progress within the next 60 days to stave off the disease.

Ebola control “possible”

The outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal have been far smaller than in other West African countries, with 20 confirmed cases in total between the two countries.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, there have been 19 confirmed cases of the virus and eight deaths since the first confirmed case there in July. The last reported case in Nigeria was discovered on 5 September, the CDC said.

There was also one confirmed case in Senegal in late August, where the infected person survived.

A child at an Ebola unit in Liberia, 27 September 2014Liberia has been worst-hit by Ebola, accounting for over half the deaths
Kumba Fayiah, 11, sits with relatives in her St Paul Bridge home in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost both parents and her sister and has, recovered from the Ebola virus and is now living with her extended familyThe UN warned that some children orphaned by the outbreak risked being “shunned”

Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days, the CDC said. After two consecutive 21-day periods have passed with no new cases, a country would be able to declare an outbreak over, it said.

Therefore, both Nigeria and Senegal will be able to declare their outbreaks officially over by mid-October, a CDC official said.

“Although Nigeria isn’t completely out of the woods, their extensive response to a single case of Ebola shows that control is possible with rapid, focused interventions” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement.

“Countries throughout the region as well as Nigeria need to take rapid steps to prepare for possible cases of Ebola in order to prevent outbreaks in their country” he added.

Bill Gates: “It’s knowing what has to be done… we have got to get medical personnel in there”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan already declared the end of the virus in his country in a speech last week, a claim medical experts believe was premature.

Ambitious target

On Tuesday the head of a new UN body set up to fight the disease urged more action within the next 60 days.

“The risk of expansion is dramatic and the number of affected people is doubling,” Anthony Banbury told reporters in Ghana, where the UN’s Ebola response team is based.

He said that 70% of infected people needed to be receiving treatment and 70% percent of burials should be done safely within two months.

Unicef also warned on Tuesday that at least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have lost one or both parents to Ebola face being “shunned”.

“Orphans are usually taken in by a member of the extended family, but in some communities the fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties,” Unicef’s Manuel Fontaine said in a statement.

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Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Ebola virus
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

BBC

US warns South Sudan of sanctions if no peace

Reuters

U.S. warns South Sudan: Strike a peace deal or face U.N. sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States warned South Sudan’s president and rebel leader on Tuesday to engage in serious peace talks to end nearly a year of violence in the world’s newest state or face United Nations sanctions.

Fighting erupted in December in South Sudan – which declared independence from Sudan in 2011 – after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. Peace talks brokered by African regional bloc IGAD resumed last week.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power warned Kiir and Machar that if a peace deal could not be reached during current talks in Ethiopia then long-threatened sanctions were likely to be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

“(IGAD) are now sitting down with the parties and making very clear that if this round of talks … do not succeed then IGAD and the (Security) Council are going to need to move out on these long-threatened sanctions,” she said.

Kiir raised concerns on Saturday at the United Nations about U.N. peacekeepers now focusing on protecting civilians instead of state-building in South Sudan.

“I would urge President Kiir to engage in the talks with heightened seriousness and urgency if he wants to see the U.N. presence on the ground again move through this phase and back to the kind of functions that they performed previously,” Power told reporters.

The U.N. Security Council authorized peacekeepers in May to give priority to the protection of civilians. The council doubled the number of peacekeepers in late December to 12,500 troops when fighting broke out.

Ethnic divisions have also fuelled the violence, pitting Kiir’s Dinka people against Machar’s Nuer.

During his speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, Kiir complained that the United Nations mission to South Sudan was no longer helping with capacity building, security sector reforms and development.

“Unfortunately because the president of South Sudan and opposition leader Riek Machar have not yet shown the spirit of compromise that is needed, we can’t even begin to get to the conversation of when we start reverting to supporting government institutions,” Power said.

She said civilians in South Sudan had been placed in grave peril because of attacks by government troops and rebel forces as well as the denial of humanitarian aid access.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, caused over 1 million to flee and driven the country of 11 million closer to famine. By year-end, a third of the people could face the threat of starvation, the United Nations said.

Kiir also failed to attend a Thursday meeting on the humanitarian crisis organised by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“This is something I raised with him personally,” Power said. “He said he was informed this was a ministerial meeting and was not aware head of state attendance was required. I leave it to everyone else to draw their own conclusions on that.”  Reuters

 

Kenya – ICC says Kenyatta must go to Hague for hearing

The Star

UHURU MUST GO TO HAGUE – ICC

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – 00:00 — BY OLIVER MATHENGE WELCOME:

WELCOME: First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and President Uhuru meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday.Photo/PSCU

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and President Uhuru meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday.Photo/PSCUTHE

 

ICC judges yesterday ordered President Uhuru Kenyatta to personally attend his status conference scheduled for next Wednesday. This now means that Kenyatta will make history as the first head of State to appear before the Court as an accused. He faces crimes against humanity charges, as do Deputy President William Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang’ in a separate case.

In a ruling made last evening, the judges dismissed Uhuru’s request to postpone the hearing, which is set to discuss pending matters ahead of his suspended trial. “Trial Chamber V(b) rejects the Defence’s request and orders the accused to be present, in person, at the status conference on 8 October 2014,” said a statement from the ICC. The judges said that since the date was the same day that the trial was scheduled to start, the President’s reasons for excusal do not stand. They added that the cases is at a crucial juncture that requires his presence.

On September 19, Trial Chamber V(b) postponed indefinitely the start of the trial, which had been provisionally scheduled for October 7, 2014. The Court convened two status conferences for October 7 and 8, 2014, to discuss the state of cooperation between the Prosecution and the Kenyan Government and issues raised by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Chamber also required Kenyatta to be present at the second status conference, but, on September 25, the President’s defence team filed an application opposing his appearance, requesting postponement of the conference and also requesting that the President appear via video link.

On September 29, 2014, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Legal Representative of the Victims filed their responses to the Defence application, in which they opposed Kenyatta’s application. Uhuru’s defence has sought immediate termination of his ICC case during the upcoming status conference. The defence will ask the Court to drop the charges on behalf of Bensouda, who has admitted she does not have sufficient evidence. The team will also ask the Court to give Bensouda an ultimatum regarding when she should drop the case. Led by Steven Kay, the lawyers are preparing to demonstrate that Kenyatta has not blocked the government from accessing information on his wealth.

The Kenyan Government, through Attorney General Githu Muigai, will defend itself and blame Bensouda for the case’s failure. Githu withdrew a request to respond to Bensouda’s accusations following consultations with Uhuru’s lawyers and will instead use the status conference to advance his defence. Key to Kenya’s defence is that the requests for information by Bensouda are not specific and some actions can violate Kenyatta’s rights as a citizen. Meanwhile, 28 victims of the 2007-08 post-election violence have made a plea to the ICC to ensure Kenyatta appears in court in person.

The victims are, however, divided on whether the October 8 status conference should be postponed. The victims’ views were communicated to the Court on Monday by their lawyer, who said he is opposed to Uhuru attending via video link. “We are suffering in Nyanza and Western. We are like orphans. So my answer is No to video link. Uhuru’s duty as President is his own business and should not interfere with the case,” one victim says. Another victim said the status conference should be postponed to ensure Uhuru “has no excuse not to show up in person”. “He planned the violence in Naivasha in person. I still see images of my neighbours burning and the smell of dead bodies, so I will hear none of his excuses to attend via video link,” another victim said. -

See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-192037/uhuru-must-go-hague-icc#sthash.oCcYQzHt.dpuf

Kenya – economy bigger by 25% after rebasing statistics

Reuters

(Reuters) – Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) was assessed to be 25 percent bigger in 2013 after the authorities changed the base calculation year to 2009 from 2001, the government said on Tuesday.

Economic output was calculated to be 4.76 trillion shillings ($53.3 billion) after rebasing, up from 3.8 trillion Kenyan shillings ($42.6 billion), the minister for devolution and planning, Anne Waiguru, told a news conference.

Growth in 2013 was calculated to have been 5.7 percent after rebasing, up from the previous estimate of 4.7 percent.  Reuters

 

BBC

Kenya’s economy grows by 25% after recalculation

Construction workers in Nairobi

Kenya’s economy is believed to be 25% larger than previously estimated following a change in the way its size is calculated.

The recalculation means it will now be considered by economists and the World Bank as a middle-income country, rather than a low-income one.

As a result growth for 2013 was calculated to have been 5.7%, up from an earlier estimate of 4.7%.

It is now the fourth biggest economy in sub-Saharan African.

Nigeria, South Africa and Angola are the three biggest economies in the region.

Economic output was calculated to be 4.76 trillion shillings ($53.1bn; £32.8bn) in 2013 after rebasing, up from 3.8 trillion shillings, the minister for devolution and planning, Anne Waiguru, said on Tuesday.

Some of the most profitable sectors in Kenya – communications and property – were not considered in earlier calculations of GDP which used 2001 as a base year.

Authorities in the East African country have now changed the base calculation year to 2009 and revised the annual and quarterly national accounts statistics for the period 2006 to 2013.

Poverty levels

Standard Chartered Bank Africa economist Razia Khan said the recalculation confirmed “what we had previously suspected”.

“The economy has demonstrated good momentum and has been growing faster than the official data indicated all along. It fits with much of the anecdotal evidence available to us – still-robust business confidence and healthy private sector credit growth.”

Ms Khan said the rebasing lifted the average per capita income in Kenya to $1,246 “effectively meaning that the country moves to lower middle income status”.

According to the World Bank middle economies are those with a GDP per capita of more than $1,045 but less than $12,746.

While the recalculation is expected to lower debt levels and increase foreign investor confidence, analysts said the figure will change little for much of the population.

Poverty levels in the country remain at 45.9%, and life expectancy is at 61 years, as estimated by a 2013 World Bank report.

Several African countries have recently been reworking their economy figures, a trend which the Africa Development bank has said will show the continent’s economies collectively being one third bigger than previously thought.

Earlier this year Nigeria vaulted ahead of South Africa to clinch the number one position after it conducted a similar rebasing of its economy, placing the country’s GDP at $522.6bn.

BBC

West Africa – ebola orphans shunned

BBC

Ebola outbreak: ‘Thousands of orphans shunned’

A child at an Ebola unit in Liberia, 27 September 2014Liberia has been worst-hit by Ebola, accounting for 1,830 deaths

At least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have lost one or both parents to Ebola this year face being shunned, the UN has said.

Carers were urgently needed for these orphans, Unicef said.

A basic human reaction like comforting a sick child has been turned “into a potential death sentence”, it added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 3,000 people have died of Ebola in West Africa – the world’s most deadly outbreak of the virus.

The fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties” Manuel Fontaine Unicef

The figure on the number of Ebola orphans follows a two-week assessment mission by the UN children’s agency to the three countries worst-affected by the outbreak. An earlier version of this story said that 4,900 children had lost parents but the correct figure is 3,700.

It found that children as young as three or four years old were being orphaned by the disease.

Children were discovered alone in the hospitals where their parents had died, or back in their communities where, if they were lucky, they were being fed by neighbours – but all other contact with them was being avoided.

A man carries disinfected boots of medical staff members taking care of patients suffering from Ebola, at the  Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) centre in Monrovia on 27 September 2014 The boots of health workers looking after health workers must be disinfected

“Thousands of children are living through the deaths of their mother, father or family members from Ebola,” Unicef’s Manuel Fontaine said in statement about his two-week visit to the region.

“These children urgently need special attention and support; yet many of them feel unwanted and even abandoned,” he said.

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Ebola quarantine

“My husband has moved into the guestroom”

Liberia’s chief medical doctor Bernice Dahn tells the BBC about the challenges of her self-imposed 21-day quarantine, after one of her assistants died from the deadly Ebola virus:

“It is the right thing to do and to send a strong message to the Liberian people. If we were just disciplined enough and everybody was obeying rules, we wouldn’t be here today.

I’m sleeping in a room all by myself – my husband has moved into the guestroom. At home I use my own utensils, I disinfect them myself so others don’t get infected.

Physically I am fine, mentally like any other human being [there is] the fear of the unknown.

My husband… my children have been supportive. The difficulty is the way we used to sit down in the evening, everyone watched TV together laughing and joking. These days they are in their rooms to watch their own TV and I’m in my room to watch mine.

I have my grandson here who I can’t hold. He will walk to me and I will tell him: ‘Go back to your mummy.'”

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“Orphans are usually taken in by a member of the extended family, but in some communities, the fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties.”

Kumba Fayiah, 11, sits with relatives in her St Paul Bridge home in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost both parents and her sister and has, recovered from the Ebola virus and is now living with her extended familyNot all children are rejected – this 11-year-old Liberian girl lost her parents, has survived Ebola and is living with her extended family in Monrovia

The number of Ebola orphans has spiked in the past few weeks and preliminary reports suggest that it is likely to double by mid-October, Unicef said.

There was an urgent need to establish a system for identifying and caring for Ebola orphans, it said.

Unicef will be holding a meeting on the issue in Sierra Leone next month but before then it wants potential carers to come forward.

“Ebola is turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence,” Mr Fontaine said.

“We cannot respond to a crisis of this nature and this scale in the usual ways. We need more courage, more creativity, and far far more resources.”

line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Ebola virus
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

BBC

 

China suspends arms deliveries to South Sudan

Bloomberg

China Halts Arms Sales to South Sudan After Norinco Shipment

Photographer: Samir Bol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President of South Sudan Salva Kiir, center, returns to Juba following a meeting in Ethiopia with rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, South Sudan on August 26, 2014.

China halted weapons sales to South Sudan after it discovered the state arms manufacturer sold millions of dollars worth of equipment to the war-torn nation, a Chinese Embassy official said.

China North Industries Group Corp., known as Norinco, delivered its first consignment of a $38 million order to South Sudan in June. The Chinese government decided it was “inappropriate to implement” the remainder of the contract after details of the order came to light in July, Lan Kun, an attache at the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, said in a Sept. 21 interview.

“No more weapons are heading to South Sudan,” he said. “There are some media reports that were alleging that the Chinese government was behind this business operation and wants to undermine this peace process. That is totally untrue.”

South Sudan has been wracked by a civil war since mid-December in which thousands of people have died and sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the United Nations. China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly called for an end to hostilities, while Chinese Ambassador to the African Union Xie Xiaoyan has worked with U.S., Norwegian and U.K. diplomats to try to end the conflict.

U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth said he raised the issue about the weapons sale with Chinese officials during a visit to Beijing in July.

‘Frozen Delivery’

“I have been told and assured that they have frozen delivery of any further arms that are already sold and they continue to have a policy of no new arms agreements,” he said by phone from New York.

China is one of the biggest buyers of South Sudan’s oil, output of which has fallen by a third to about 160,000 barrels a day since fighting between President Salva Kiir’s government and insurgents loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar started nine months ago, according to the Petroleum Ministry. The violence has displaced 1.8 million people and left 4 million, almost a third of the population, in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

China National Petroleum Corp. is one of three companies that pump oil in South Sudan. The company evacuated 97 of its staff in December because of the conflict, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Dec. 25.

‘Meaningful Steps’

Human Rights Watch, the New York-based advocacy group, has accused South Sudan’s army and rebel forces of crimes against humanity including massacres and rape during the fighting. Civilians had been purposefully targeted and killed, child soldiers recruited and towns pillaged, said HRW South Sudan researcher Skye Wheeler.

“Neither side has made any meaningful steps toward ending abuse or holding their forces to account for crimes driving South Sudan deeper into humanitarian crisis and causing terrible levels of suffering,” she said by e-mail.

Since the start of the war, China’s government “has asked all relevant Chinese companies to stop the weapons trade to South Sudan and this stance of the government has not changed,” Yu Ruilin, chief of the political section at the embassy, said in a Sept. 23 interview.

China’s government is committed to restoring peace to the nation, she said. Yu was unaware which shipments by Beijing-based Norinco had been stopped. The deal for the weapons was struck before the war broke out and the embassy had no knowledge of the sale, Lan said.

‘Critical Support’

“China’s support in halting arms flows to all parties in the conflict is critical to reaching a political resolution of the conflict,” Casie Copeland, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group’s South Sudan analyst, said by e-mail.

No one was available at Norinco in Juba for comment. The company’s office in Beijing referred questions to a man named Ji, who declined to comment when reached by phone on Sept. 29.

“Norinco observes international laws and the laws and regulations of the Chinese government,” he said. “We are under no obligations to talk about Norinco’s internal business with journalists.”

South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer said in a Sept. 21 interview in Juba he was unaware that the Chinese had stopped arms sales.

“We have weapons,” he said. “We are an army. We have no shortage of arms.”

‘Convenient’ Cancellation

South Sudan’s Army Chief of General Staff Paul Malong declined to be interviewed and two calls to Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk’s mobile phone didn’t connect.

News of the weapons order prompted Amnesty International, the London-based advocacy group, and a coalition of 30 non-governmental organizations to call for an embargo against arms sales to South Sudan. During a visit to Juba last month, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said reports of arms purchases were “very worrying.”

China’s decision to halt the weapons sale comes “conveniently” after one shipment arrived in South Sudan, said Jonah Leff, director of operations at Brussels-based Conflict Armament Research.

“Nevertheless, it’s indicative of a renewed effort on their part to not play a part in fueling the conflict with arms,” Leff said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Ambassador Mawien Makol Arik, spokesman for South Sudan’s foreign minister, said he did not understand what the issue was with buying military equipment.

‘Sovereign Right’

“When it comes to weapons, this is a sovereign country, we can contract anybody who can give us some weapons,” he said. “This is the right of any country not just South Sudan.”

Chinese weapons have been a feature of South Sudan’s conflict, said Emile LeBrun of the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research institute.

“If it is true that the Chinese government has frozen exports of weapons and ammunition to South Sudan it would be a wise step in light of the situation on the ground and the potential for violence in the dry season,” she said.

Arik declined to comment on whether South Sudan’s government was planning a major offensive against rebel forces in the northern part of the country early next year, after the current rainy season has ended.

“We cannot judge something that has not come. We are telling the rebels, fighting will not help us. You better wind up now,” he said.

Asked again, Arik said: “We hope that peace comes and that is the hope of all South Sudan.” He then laughed and ended the interview. Bloomberg