Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan – Kiir arming Bul Nuer to fights Machar’s Nuer in Unity

Sudan Tribune

(NAIROBI) – A report based on extensive assessment of the fighting in the oil-rich Unity state has revealed that president Salva Kiir’s government strategically has been arming and using Bul-Nuer clan to do most of the fighting against their fellow Nuer communities in the state, prompting fears that the intra-Nuer conflict may persist even if a peace agreement is signed in Addis Ababa with the armed opposition faction led by former vice president, Riek Machar.

A comprehensive report by Human Security Baseline Assessment (Small Arms Survey) which covers the ongoing fighting in Unity state from January up to July 2015 said the government had been in its campaign in southern Unity state in which forces of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) were aided by Bul Nuer fighters, recruited by Matthew Puljang, and promised a share in the spoils of war.

The report, released on Friday, said fighters from the Bul-Nuer clan, in what the other Nuer communities said was the worst betrayal to their community by their own clan, have joined with armed youth and forces from Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states to destroy villages of other Nuer communities, burning villages, looting livestock, killing, torturing and raping their women and girls, throwing them into fire after rape and castrating boys, or killing them.

It said Major General Puljang, a Bul-Nuer, has been recruiting more fighters from the Bul community to continue with the destruction of other Nuer communities in Unity state on behalf of the government.

“On 19 June, a force of approximately 8,000 Bul Nuer youth marched past the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC) site on its way south. This force raided Guit and Koch on 20–25 June, and then moved further south, to Leer,” says the report.

“The SPLA, and its associated Bul Nuer fighters, targeted Nuer civilians and committed widespread sexual violence against Nuer women,” it says.

In mid-June, Unity state government led by Joseph Monytuil Wijang, a Bul-Nuer, whose brother, Bapiny Monytuil, is also a military commander in the state, issued an announcement which warned that anyone not aligned with the rebel forces (SPLA-IO) should move their cattle to Bentiu capital or else face the consequences.

In the Bul-Nuer led operations against the other Nuer civilians, over 100,000 civilians were displaced across many Nuer inhabited counties in the southern part of the state, and between 70,000 and 100,000 heads of cattle were looted and driven to Bentiu by the joint Bul-Nuer and Dinka fighters.

On 19 June, a force of approximately 8,000 Bul Nuer youth marched past the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC) site on its way south. This force raided Guit and Koch on 20–25 June, and then moved further south, to Leer. Youth from Koch joined in this raiding, after they were promised a free hand in the south. These raids have the capacity to create serious intra-ethnic conflict between the Nuer of southern Unity and Bul Nuer from Mayom county that are already blamed for siding

According to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC) site contained 78,308 people as of 25 June, many of whom were the previous owners of the cattle who were displaced by fighting and their cattle looted by the South Sudanese army.

Also in February and March 2014, the SPLA, aided by the elements of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudanese rebel group originating in Darfur, pushed into southern Unity, displacing “thousands of people, capturing livestock, razing villages, killing civilians, and raping women.”

The report says the government’s offensive was designed to disrupt the SPLA-IO, punish its supporters, and acquire resources.

“Rather than the offensive being a series of military victories, fought against entrenched SPLA-IO positions, the assault was characterized by attacks on the villages of southern Unity—it was a demographic war, waged against the population, and carried out by raiding, with the livestock and resources carried back to Bentiu, and into northern Unity,” it observed.

It further said the South Sudanese army moved troops east from Warrap state into Abiemnom county in Unity state and then into Bentiu, while preparing forces in Lakes and Warrap states for an assault from the south of Unity state.

The report also quoted the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir in his statements in two separate speeches at the end of March in which he proclaimed that the best way to deal with Riek Machar, the leader of the SPLA-IO, whose home state is being destroyed, is to destroy his forces or stronghold and “make him come home, just like in 2002.”


The report relayed fears of the possibility that the intra-Nuer conflict may continue beyond a peace agreement as the government has successfully planted hatred and violence between its ally, the Bul-Nuer community, and the rest of the Nuer communities in the oil-rich Unity state.

For many Nuer communities of Dok (Leer) Haak (Mayendit), Jikany (Guit), Jagei (Koch), Leek (Rubkotni), and Nyuong (Panyijiar) counties, the last offensive and the current raiding was only the latest episode in a story of desertion and treachery on the part of the Bul Nuer, who are held to have deserted their Nuer kinsmen by siding with the Dinka-led government in December 2013, and were now taking part in attacks on southern Unity state.

General Puljang, from Bul Nuer, also led offensive against rebel forces over control of the Unity oilfields in Rubkotni and Pariang counties, north of Bentiu towards the Sudanese border. Also another powerful army General Buay Rolnyang, also from Bul Nuer, is the one protecting the remaining Paloch oilfields and Renk county, which connects to Sudan.

But General Peter Gatdet Yak, from Bul Nuer, is the deputy chief of general staff for operations in the rebel forces led by Machar.

Other Nuer communities talk of Bul Nuer as becoming part of the Dinka community as they were being “misguided” after the death of their respected leader, General Paulino Matip Nhial.

“In the Bentiu PoC site, Dok and Jikany Nuer refer to the Bul as ‘Dinka’, and talk openly about taking revenge once the war is over,” the report says.

“The enmity felt by the rest of the Nuer in Unity, and the degree of political and military control currently possessed by Matthew Puljang and Joseph Nguen Monytuel (the current governor, and also a Bul Nuer), makes it highly unlikely they would be willing to give up power within the state,” it further observed.

This political dominance, it said, meant it was hard to see the SPLA-aligned Bul Nuer elite accepting a political settlement that would find a place for Taban Deng Gai, the former governor of the state and one of the SPLA-IO’s lead negotiators.

This situation is aggravated by the fact that Nguen Monytuel is a rival of Taban Deng Gai and the enmity felt between the two men was one of the reasons that Nguen Monytuel initially sided with the SPLA rather than the rebel forces.

A political settlement, however, that leaves the perpetrators of the 2015 offensive in southern Unity state in charge of the state was unlikely to be palatable either to the Nuer-majority of Unity state, or to the political leadership of the of opposition faction.


Kenya – crisis in demoralised police force


Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet inspects a guard of honour at Parklands police station on June 30, 2015. Whereas senior officers in the police service have complained about the collapse of the command structure, their juniors protest that their bosses are fleecing them, especially when they are sent to hardship areas like Baringo. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
In Summary

Senior officers unhappy with their vetting and failure to allocate them duties as juniors allege corruption and neglect.

Tussle between various formations, allegations that DCI officers are denied opportunities for promotion among problems facing the police.


More by this Author

Top police commanders are demanding “drastic action” to save what they say is a top-heavy, dangerously demoralised and poorly led service.
Police bosses, who broke their oath of office to brief the Daily Nation about their concerns, said the command structures of the service have broken down, discipline is fast disappearing and there is total chaos in the ranks.
“The Kenya Police Service is like a woman in labour,” one top commander said starkly. He and his colleagues said action must be taken urgently to ensure protection of the public.
Rivalries between commanders, coupled with corruption and tribalism, low morale and weak leadership have brought the Kenya Police to its knees, they said.
Matters have been made worse by the bad blood between the Director of Criminal Investigations, Mr Ndegwa Muhoro and the Deputy Inspector-General, Ms Grace Kaindi. Their rivalry has threatened to paralyse the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
“The DCI can’t promote officers because they are not allowed into Kiganjo (police training college). They are also not being issued with uniforms, they have been told to use their own money,” revealed one top officer, who asked not to be named for fear of prosecution for violating police secrecy rules. Before being created as a separate entity, the DCI was an integral part of the police service.
At the top leadership level, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Joseph Boinnet, does not appear to have taken full charge of the complex and troubled institution which is also plagued by inadequate resources.
“We met as senior officers to welcome him. He told us: ‘Tell your people there is a new madman in town and he does not want to hear these issues of corruption’,” one officer said. “He kept looking down. He was either intimidated because of his junior rank or he lacks confidence.”
Mr Boinnet met senior officers on March 20 at the police headquarters and also at the DCI headquarters at Mazingira House.
The police boss was a Senior Superintendent of Police before he was transferred to the National Intelligence Service where he rose to the position of Assistant Director.
In interviews, top commanders painted a picture of an institution which is slowly turning into a criminal enterprise where tribalism, favouritism and the search for bribes has replaced the vaunted motto of providing service to all, Utumumishi Kwa Wote.
Commanders feel no sense of responsibility. That is why money intended for officers on operation in dangerous parts of the country, rarely reaches them. The joke is that when officers are sent to hardship areas like Kapedo or Garissa, they are deployed without rations and have to shoot porcupines for dinner.
The problems plaguing the services, it would appear, are too numerous. First, there are many senior officers who have no duties and who report to Vigilance House every day to read newspapers and idle.
“These are people with dangerous skills,” the officer warned. But there is work to be done in the force, which makes the reluctance to deploy them all the more bizarre.
“We are creating unnecessary vacuums within the service,” he said.
However, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ms Grace Kaindi, denied the claims, saying all senior officers had been allocated duties.
Officers also said there is lack of coordination with many top commanders saying that they had failed to neutralise major security threats. Performance of the police during major incidents is also not subjected to scrutiny.
“There was never a review meeting on how we handled incidents,” said the officer. As a result, the police service has basically learnt nothing from Westgate, Garissa, Mpeketoni and others.
The old “cop cons” — the large conferences bringing together all commanders and which were convened by the commissioner and during which issues were aired and orders given — are no longer convened. As a result, the service is adrift, without a sense of purpose or commitment with individuals largely left to fend for themselves.
The service also made a mess of the reforms to the disadvantage of senior officers, leading to discontent and despair. Many at the apex of command talk longingly of “kumaliza”, a euphemism for attaining the retirement age in the hope of earning their terminal benefits.
Whereas top commanders created the conditions they are now complaining of — many of them clearly contributed to destroying the fabric of the force — the fact that they are talking of disaffection among them is a warning that cannot be ignored.
Besides low morale at the highest levels of leadership, favouritism, tribalism and possibly incompetence in the implementation reforms have undermined the order of seniority in the service. The police service is rigidly hierarchical and seniority of service and rank are revered.
“Unless you have worked for it, through indiscipline or laziness, you should never be overtaken (by your juniors),” is the way one policeman put it.
The assignment of rank from the old system to the new one, according to some officers, has been arbitrary and unfair. Some have been demoted without explanation, others found themselves in the same rank with their juniors, especially after two ranks — Assistant Commissioner of Police and Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police — were collapsed into one rank, that of Commissioner of Police.
An example is given of Assistant Commissioners of Police Eunice Kihiko, Alice Naliaka and Myriam Muli. Ms Naliaka and Ms Muli were assigned the new title of Assistant Inspector General, but Ms Kihiko was taken a rank lower to Commissioner of Police. 

“Do these new ranks mean anything? What do they mean?” one officer asked.
The police service did not explain the discrepancy. However, the Nation learnt that 62 officers who were former Senior Assistant Commissioners of Police and Assistant Commissioners of Police were all made commissioners. Only 35 were appointed to the position of Assistant I-Gs.
According to one source, some officers have been confronted with the reality of having to salute for colleagues who were their juniors only months earlier.
Because of unfair assignment of rank, insiders said, there has been a break down of what police call “forced respect”, the requirement that you respect your superior at all times. Many previously senior officers find it impossible to respect superior officers who either did not earn that seniority or were previously their juniors.
Some officers believe that the implementation of reforms, which were intended to reduce political influence and fight corruption within the force by making it accountable, have contributed to the weakening of the force and its command structures.
“Sasa tunataka kumaliza twende (We are just waiting for retirement we go home),” one senior officer said.
The merger of the regular and Administration police units has also posed a new challenge.
“The two shall never be one,” the senior officer said. The AP and the police are trained to do different things. In the regular police, an officer has to go back to college for further training before moving to the next rank. Thus, a Constable must be retrained before he can be promoted to Corporal and all gazetted officers have a special course.
“With the AP, you just get a brown envelope. You are with someone in the evening, in the morning their shoulders are weighed down by ranks,” the officer said.
Regular police look down on their AP counterparts whom they claim were recruited “from the Kanu youth band”.
Even transfers across formations are an issue. Regular police accuse their counterparts from the General Service Unit of being responsible for brutality in the force because they no longer take the conversion course they used to which allowed them to fit in civilian environments.
“They are trained to fight and they do it very well,” said the officer.
The unstated explanation for a lot of the irrational command decisions appears to be the facilitation of access to the largesse of corruption from the public. Thus many GSU officers have been deployed among regular police officers basically so that they, too, can eat.
The AP, who were generally treated as servants by their bosses in the provincial administration wanted more dignified work. They are now deployed alongside regular officers, though they have different uniforms and are trained to fight in the jungles.
“It is not clear what the duties of the AP are,” the officer said.
This has given rise to the most serious of all problems: command confusion. In the old system, the Officer Commanding Police Division was the ranking officer in that district. He was senior to everyone else and called the shots. Today, nobody knows who the boss is.
There are three bosses in every county: one from the AP, another from the regular police and a third one from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. The regular police boss has more responsibilities and may be required to command the others, but he is not necessarily the most senior officer.
In Narok, the County Commander is a Senior Superintendent of Police, the AP boss is an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
“Sasa nani atapangia mwingine kazi? (who will assign the other duties?)” the officer asked.
But the worst resentment is reserved for the National Police Service Commission.
“They missed the point. They were supposed to be the voice of the service,” the officer said.
Top commanders feel humiliated and disrespected by the way the vetting has been conducted. They also feel the entire purpose of the process has been lost. Part of the rationale for vetting, they argued, was to make sure that the commanders had the skills and competence to do the job. But they feel they are just being vetted on the contents of their bank accounts.
“Where in this world have you ever seen police officers being put on the (TV) screen in front of your wife, your children and anyone who matters to you?” the officer asked.
Commanders are also bitter that no one pays attention to their service record, with all questions at vetting being about money.
Additional reporting by Fred Mukinda

Sudan – preparation to deploy joint force in Darfur

Sudan Tribune
July 5, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government will deploy during the upcoming days a joint force from the army and police elements in the East Darfur state to curb tribal violence and restore security, the governor said.

East Darfur governor Anas Omer (Photo Ashorooq TV)

Hundreds were killed during inter-communal fighting between Rezeigat and Ma’alia tribes, despite reconciliation conferences and efforts by the local regular forces to prevent the armed confrontations.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, the new governor, Anas Omer, said the 1800-strong security force will be equipped with sophisticated weapons and will not include local elements in order to give it a neutral character.
He further underscored that the joint forces will not only deal with tribal clashes but will oversee the growing season, secure migration routes of pastoralists and protect Khartoum -Alnuhoud – Abu Karinka – Ed-Daein.
The government deployed troops in the conflict areas in August 2014 and May 2015; but the regular forces failed to contain violence and end the recurrent clashes between Ma’alia and Rezeigat..
However, the governor explained the failure of previous attempts by the presence of local elements in the regular troops.
“The joint force will be deployed in line with a new mandate and will not be based in one place, but will be able to move because it will be equipped with sophisticated weapons and new gears. Also there will be no local component and that means they will be neutral,” and added.
“We are counting a lot on these forces,” he added.
Following the deadly clashes last May, the government admitted the failure of traditional reconciliation conferences and said the regular forces will deal roughly with any party that attempts to carry out attacks and bring the culprits to justice.
The new governor who is from central Sudan, is appointed by the Sudanese president last June as part of his new government after his re-election in April 2015.
Just before April elections, the parliament abolished the election of state governors and adopted a constitutional amendment providing their appointment by the president. The move was taken after reports saying the election of governors contributed to the rise of tribalism particularly in Darfur region.
Omer who was speaking to Sudan Tribune form Khartoum, said he is in the national capital to follow up the departure of the joint force and other new arrangements.
He further disclosed that the state government will be formed after Eid al-Fitr adding that its members will not be East Darfur in order to ensure government’s stability and provision of services and development in the troubled state.
The Ma’alia accuse the former governor and government officials in Khartoum including the vice-president Hasabo Abdel-Rahman of backing the interests of their tribe: Rezeigat.
They also say the army and government militia in East Darfur are composed mainly from the Rezeigat.

What happened to African Union third-term debate?

ISS (Tshwane)

It was whispered in the corridors of the Sandton Convention Centre, muttered under his breath by a former president and referred to (jokingly?) by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. However, at this week’s African Union (AU) Summit, the third-term bids by Africa’s presidents – one of the major threats to stability on the continent – remained the elephant in the room.

The 25th AU Summit, which ended in Johannesburg earlier this week, was overshadowed by the debacle around Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the failure of South Africa to carry out an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court. Al-Bashir – who incidentally has been in power for 26 years – flew back to his country on Monday 15 June.

In the run-up to the summit, observers and analysts said a strong statement by AU leaders about limiting presidential terms in Africa could go a long way to avert political instability on the continent. In countries like Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the uncertainty around term limits, and the determination by opposition and civil society to fight against third terms, have become cause for concern.

Third-term bids remain the elephant in the room

Speculation around possible action by AU leaders came after the tabling of such a resolution during a summit meeting of the Economic Community of West African States in Ghana last month. The proposal was shot down, reportedly by the leaders of Togo and the Gambia, but the fact that it was tabled indicated that this is not just a pipe dream.

Expectations that a decision would emerge from the Johannesburg summit were also raised when a number of leaders, including South African President, Jacob Zuma, and AU Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, spoke out strongly about the issue of Burundi’s presidential term limits. Burundi has been plunged into violence due to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term, having served as president from 2005 – 2010 and again from 2010 – 2015.

The current situation in Burundi was high on the agenda of the 15-member AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) that met at the heads-of-state level on 13 June, on the eve of the AU Assembly.

As delegates waited for the meeting, Burundi’s former president Pierre Buyoya, currently the AU Special Representative for Mali, was asked what he thought about the third-term bid and almost inaudibly said: ‘I don’t agree with this business’. He added that he has a responsibility to speak out as one of the signatories of the Arusha agreement, which put an end to his presidency in 2003. ‘If we carry on like this, we will return to civil war,’ he warned ominously. But Buyoya was not on the podium to speak, and other leaders at the gathering didn’t hear his warning.

It is not, however, as if the AU hasn’t tried to avert a crisis in Burundi. The AU and the PSC have been lauded for their strong stance on Burundi and insist on the role of the AU as a guarantor of the Arusha Agreement, which clearly limits presidential terms in Burundi to two. At the meeting on 13 June, the PSC refrained from speaking about the term limits, but called for agreement amongst role-players in the country.

African leaders need to speak out decisively against third-term bids

In its statement following the meeting, the PSC called for the discussions to focus on ‘the measures to be taken to create conditions conducive to the organisation of free, fair, transparent and credible elections’ as well as ‘on all the matters on which they disagree’. Still no mention of term limits. However, in his press conference on the last day of the summit, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui, said the discussions in Burundi should include ‘everything’, including freedom of expression, human rights ‘and the presidential third-term bid’. So someone did say it.

The PSC communiqué also calls for human rights observers, as well as military experts, to be sent to Burundi to oversee the disarming of militias and to ensure free and fair elections. The ink was not yet dry on the PSC’s statement when the Nkurunziza government rejected these calls saying it has its own observers and its security forces are more than capable of ensuring the safety of citizens during elections. According to a statement, quoted by Radio France International, the government said the dates for the elections, 29 June for legislative elections and 15 July for presidential polls, are non-negotiable.

Clearly, the government in Burundi is hell-bent on defying the AU in the name of sovereignty. The ball is now in the court of the mediators – and there are many. According to the PSC communiqué the AU, the United Nations, the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Conference on the Great Lakes Region, will oversee the talks.

The inability of the AU to stop the president of Burundi’s third-term bid doesn’t augur well for its role in other potential crises. David Zounmenou, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, warned earlier that civil disobedience against third-term bids could be one of the key reasons for instability on the continent in the next few months. ‘African leaders need to speak out decisively against third-term bids because of the threat of instability,’ he told a briefing in the run-up to the summit. ‘If they don’t do that, citizens will take the law in their own hands.’

Zounmenou says the AU has normative frameworks, such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which can promote good governance and the respect for constitutions on the continent. This charter is now being used by the PSC in its statement calling for free and fair elections in Burundi.

No AU decision is going to change Burundi’s current crisis anytime soon

Zounmenou said the situation in Burkina Faso at the end of 2014 is a clear manifestation of what can happen when leaders cling to power. Former president Blaise Compaoré was ousted by street protests after he tried to change the constitution to extend his term limit. The AU has been involved in the transition in Burkina Faso, and a meeting of the international contact group on Burkina Faso took place on the margins of the summit. International partners and Burkina Faso’s neighbours have criticised a law barring members of the former ruling party – who supported Compaore’s third-term bid – of running for elections in October.

Ruling parties elsewhere on the continent who are supporting third-term bids by their presidents, in places like the DRC and the Republic of Congo, will certainly be watching the process in Burkina Faso closely. In Rwanda, supporters of President Paul Kagame have also been gathering signatures to campaign for a third term for Kagame, who did not attend the Johannesburg summit, and who has been in power since 2000.

Apart from the talk in the corridors, and the very brief reference to Burundi’s third-term conundrum by Chergui, the only other official reference to the debate came from Mugabe, the current AU Chairperson.

During his opening address, Mugabe made a point of rejecting presidential term limits – another idea imposed by outsiders that will be ‘a yoke around our necks’. ‘In Europe they don’t have two terms, so if people want you to stay on, why not?’ The 91-year old Zimbabwean president, however, then admonished his fellow African leaders who ’cause fights’ by saying ‘my first term doesn’t count’, a clear reference to Nkurunziza.

‘Let us learn to be brotherly and principled and refuse to cause trouble for our people,’ Mugabe concluded. In Burundi, regrettably, there is already trouble, and no AU decision is going to change that soon.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS Consultant

South Sudan fragile states index

Inter Press Service

South Sudan Again Tops Fragile States Index

South Sudanese Police Cadets taking oath during their graduation ceremony at the Juba Football Stadium. September 17, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy Gideon Lu'b

South Sudanese Police Cadets taking oath during their graduation ceremony at the Juba Football Stadium. September 17, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy Gideon Lu’b

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, Canada, Jun 18 2015 (IPS) – For the second year in a row, South Sudan has been designated as the most fragile nation in the world, plagued by intensifying internal conflict that has displaced more than two million of its people.

Headline-making events of the past year have spurred much of the movement of countries’ rankings – for better or worse – in the Fragile States Index (FSI), a joint annual report by Foreign Policy magazine and think-tank Fund for Peace (FFP) released on Jun. 17.

“For me, Nigeria was one of the most interesting stories of the year. All indicators showed intensive pressures on all fronts…and yet people were able to really rally at the local, national level.” — Nate Haken

Sub-Saharan Africa found itself leading the pack, with seven out of the top 10 countries ranked as the most fragile. As far as regional trends go, the Islamic State’s encroaching influence pulled states such as Yemen, Libya, Syria and Iraq into the top 10 most-worsened countries of 2015.

Cuba stood out as the most-improved country this past decade, owing its designation to the thawing of relations with the United States and the gradual opening of its economy to foreign investment. Though trends suggest the nation is on track to improving conditions, there remains the challenge of access to public services and upholding human rights.

In an effort to measure a state’s fragility, the index accounts for event-driven factors and makes use of data to illuminate patterns and trends that could contribute to instability. The report analysed the progress of 178 countries around the world.

“At the top of the index, countries do tend to move minimally, but at the centre of the index, you tend to see a lot more movement,” said Nate Haken, senior associate of FFP. “That’s partly because fragility begets fragility and stability begets stability.”

And yet, the report highlighted, there are outliers like Nigeria that defy easy categorisation even as pressures on all fronts – political, social, economic – would indicate a country on the brink of descending into conflict.

“For me, Nigeria was one of the most interesting stories of the year. All indicators showed intensive pressures on all fronts,” Haken told IPS. “Oil prices were down, there was more killing this past year.”

But in an unexpected turn, Haken noted, the political opposition led by Muhammadu Buhari emerged as a credible threat to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party. He added that many expected a polarising outcome that would pit the north and south against each other, whatever the outcome.

“I think most observers looking at these trends thought this was bound to be a disaster,” said Haken. “Every empirical measure shows a high degree of risk and yet, people were able to really rally at the local, national level.”

Meanwhile, Portugal and Georgia joined the ranks of Cuba for the most improved, with strides being made in the economy.

Whereas some countries’ progress or decline has held steady, a closer look can reveal an emerging narrative, said Haken. The United States’ year-over-year score (ranked at 89) has remained flat, but group grievances – tensions among groups – has been increasing since 2007, with respect to the immigration of children fleeing Central America and protest against the police over racial relations.

Far from being a predictive tool, the index functions as a diagnostic tool for policy makers working in human rights and economic development to identify high-priority areas, he noted. As well, it serves to turn the spotlight on countries that seemingly have marginal bearing for the international community.

In the case of the Ebola crisis in West Africa, countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone may not have figured large in headlines, but the “ripple effects across the region” also had far-reaching consequences for the international community as the world scrambled to contain the outbreak, Haken noted.

Demographic pressures – massive rural-urban migration – coupled with lack of proper road infrastructure gave way to the spread of Ebola.

“One thing that came out of the index is how critical infrastructure is for sustainable human security,” he said. “… Once it began to spread, it was difficult for medical personnel and supplies to reach the rural areas.”

This regional crisis, in particular, served as a reminder that “post-conflict” nations “on path to recovery” still face vulnerabilities, the report noted.

The index relies on 12 indicators (plus other variables) to make its assessment. They account for state legitimacy; demographic pressures; economic performance; intervention of state or non-state actors; provision of public services; and population flight, among others. Each indicator is given equal weight, and countries take a numerical score, with one for the best performance and 10 for the worst.

On this basis, policy makers are encouraged to use the index to frame research questions and to help determine the allocation of humanitarian aid.

Since 2014, FSI moved away from the use of the term “failed” in favour of “fragile,” as a way of acknowledging that in some instances, the pressures a state faces can be beyond its control, said Haken.

For instance, he cited refugee crises in which governments – ill-equipped or not – take on a large number of refugees.

“Failure connotes culpability somewhere, whereas that’s not what this index was ever trying to do,” he said. “It was looking at factors – some of which governments have influence over, some of which they don’t.”

Edited by Kitty Stapp


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Africa elephant poaching – Tanzania/Mozambique and Gabon-Congo at centre of trade


Elephant poaching hotspots identified

African elephants have an estimated population of half a million

Most illegally-poached African elephant ivory can be traced back to just two areas of Africa, research shows.

Scientists were able to locate the hotspots by matching the DNA fingerprint of seized ivory to DNA profiles from the dung of elephants living throughout the continent.

Around 50,000 elephants are thought to be poached each year.

The worst area for poaching was identified as Tanzania and nearby parts of Mozambique.

The Tridom, which spans parts of Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, was also highlighted.

The researchers say the data, published in Science, may increase international pressure to stop the killing.

This week, the US government hopes to send out a message against the illicit sale of elephant ivory by destroying one tonne of elephant ivory in New York’s Times Square.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, but a black market trade continues to thrive.

Ivory is used for trinkets, souvenirs and also in traditional medicines.

With an estimated population of less than half a million, the ongoing African poaching problem is rapidly driving the animal towards extinction.

International efforts to try to stop the ivory pipeline focus on points of sale and tightening up controls at potential shipping routes.

Elephants live in social groups

But, Dr Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist from the University of Washington and lead researcher on the Science paper, thinks other measures might be more effective.

“The source populations are where it all starts, and to be able to focus on the source populations, especially the major source populations, is very very effective at trying to target these killings,” Dr Wasser told the BBC’s Science in Action programme.

Genetic Analysis

In an effort to identify where illegal ivory was originating from, Dr Wasser and his team turned to genetic analysis.

Elephants live in social groups, or herds. Animals living in one location are more genetically related to one another than they are to animals living elsewhere.

So, by analysing the DNA sequence – particularly those stretches that reveal relatedness – from animals living across Africa, the researchers could build a geographical map of elephant genetic diversity.

Elephants are large, wary and not easy to sample directly, but their dung provides an abundant source of the essential elephant blueprint; that tell-tale DNA. An analysis of dung samples from 1,500 individuals, each from a separate family group and living in different locations across Africa, resulted in a detailed DNA geographical map.

As Dr Wasser explained, this allows them to pinpoint the source of illegal ivory: “We are very accurate.

“Most importantly, areas are further apart than 300km so that, combined with knowing the natural history of the area – what parks are there and where the elephants live – it means you can get it to the precise park.”

Essential groundwork done, they were poised to analyse ivory to pinpoint its source, and there was no shortage of material to analyse.

Geographical map

The team focussed on 28 seizures made between 1996 and 2014.

“We analyse large animal seizures that are over half a tonne in weight, and that’s important because these large seizures represent about 70% of all ivory smuggled,” Dr Wasser said.

“They reflect the involvement of large transnational organised crime syndicates.”

A comparison of the DNA fingerprints in the seized ivory to their geographical map of elephant DNA enabled them to pinpoint the sites of this mass animal slaughter.

The results were astonishing.

Virtually all of the large seizures from the last decade that were analysed came from just two poaching hotspots.

African elephants are divided into two sub-species: the forest elephant and the Savannah elephant.

The majority of forest elephant deaths had occurred in or close to the protected area known as the Tridom, including parts of Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Some deaths were also occurring in the adjacent Dzanga Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic.

Savannah elephant slaughter was focussed in Tanzania, with spill-over into Mozambique. This was the biggest poaching hotspot of all.

Dr Wasser hopes that the weight of evidence will force the international community to put pressure on these countries to “clean up their act” and to be made more accountable by government aid agencies and private donors.

South Africa – how Zuma plotted Bashir’s escape

Mail and Guardian

Only President Jacob Zuma and key ministers were aware of the plot to get the Sudanese president out of the country.

The Waterkloof Air Force Base from which President Omar al-Bashir left on flight Sudan01, a sure sign that it was known the president was on board. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma and his key security ministers plotted to ensure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s safe passage out of South Africa, flouting a court order and international convention, the Mail & Guardian has learnt. The ANC described it as choosing African unity over the law.

Zuma had earlier promised al-Bashir that South Africa would not execute a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. On the eve of the African Union summit, Zuma’s government quietly gazetted a clause that guaranteed immunity for all delegates.

Plans to get al-Bashir out of the country were a closely guarded secret, with officials feigning ignorance of his whereabouts.

The high court had ordered him to stay in South Africa pending the court making a final decision on whether to arrest him based on an ICC warrant.

No government minister, including the minister in the presidency and Zuma’s flak-catcher, Jeff Radebe, and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, would speak to the media about al-Bashir.

But the M&G understands that the plan to allow al-Bashir to evade justice was hatched between Zuma and four ministers whose portfolios were crucial to facilitating his departure. Other Cabinet ministers were apparently not briefed.

Too few knew
Government sources were still reluctant to share detailed information about how al-Bashir managed to leave the country this week because too few people had known about the plan. “If it leaks, it will be known [who made the leak],” one said.

The M&G knows the names of the ministers involved but cannot name them because it could compromise the anonymity of our source.

Al-Bashir’s official aircraft was flown from OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday evening to the Waterkloof Air Force Base, which is controlled by the South African National Defence Force. Zuma is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces.

Al-Bashir was escorted by South Africa’s VIP protection unit to Waterkloof and his plane took off just before midday.

But government representatives in court claimed the Sudanese president’s name was not on the flight plan, although the flight was codenamed Sudan01, indicating that a president was on board.

ICC charges
Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, where an estimated 300 000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced.

The AU chairperson, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, told journalists at a media briefing at the end of the summit that Zuma had made an undertaking that al-Bashir would not be arrested.

“He [Zuma] said President al-Bashir would not be arrested, as he would not allow police here to arrest him,” Mugabe said.

The acting Cabinet spokesperson, Phumla Williams, said the government “will not engage in a different process in respect of President al-Bashir” because “the matter went through the court process”.

“At this stage, government is preparing to submit the investigation report as directed by the court.”

Legal crisis
The al-Bashir debacle poses a diplomatic and legal crisis for South Africa, triggering the ruling ANC to regurgitate its threat to urge the government to withdraw from the ICC.

The party wants legislators, the majority of whom are ANC, to repeal the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC Act of 2002.

The party is taking the issue to its national general council, a mid-term party conference to review its programmes.

Obed Bapela, the head of the ANC’s international relations sub-committee and deputy co-operative governance minister, said his committee was formulating a discussion document on the ICC.

“It is a policy of the ANC that we remain a member of the ICC [but], given the recent events, we must review our position whether [our] membership is yielding its goals, or has the ICC been sidetracked and hijacked by forces that are anti-progress,” Bapela said.

Politics or law
He added that, regarding al-Bashir, the government had to choose between politics and the law, and it chose politics. The unity of the continent was hanging in the balance when the Southern Africa Litigation Centre asked the court to force the government to arrest al-Bashir, he said.

“We would have been seen as lackeys of the West. We had to choose between the unity of Africa and the ICC and we chose Africa. We said we can deal with the ICC later,” he said.

The debate about the ICC, its fairness and whether South Africa should remain a part of it is not new in the ruling party. At its 2012 conference in Mangaung, the ANC expressed concern that the ICC engaged in the selective prosecution of African leaders.

“[The ANC] urges the ICC to also pursue cases of impunity elsewhere, while engaging in serious dialogue with the AU and African countries in order to review their relationship,” the party resolved.

Again, in 2013, the debate resurfaced at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting.

“It was a heated discussion,” said an NEC member, who is not allowed to speak on matters of international relations.

‘Clear evidence’
After discussing the indictment of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta by the ICC, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the ICC appeared to view the weak as always wrong and the strong as always right.

“There is clear evidence that the ICC is used more to effect regime change in the majority of cases,” he said.

Bapela said some ANC leaders wanted South Africa to withdraw from the ICC because it was seemingly “a way by the colonisers to punish the colonised”.

“The view is that this instrument [the ICC] is no longer useful. It has been compromised. It is biased,” he said.

But other ANC leaders want the country to remain a signatory to the ICC and to campaign for its reform.

“There are those who say the ANC has an entrenched human rights culture and that cannot be compromised simply because of what is happening currently in the ICC,” Bapela said.

Approach not widely held
But an ANC NEC member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said this approach was not widely held.

Another NEC member said, although the discussion on the ICC was in abeyance, the al-Bashir controversy has reawakened the debate. ANC leaders had been having unofficial discussions about the matter since the weekend, the member said.

“The proposal to leave the ICC was done in an NEC meeting last year,” he said.

“What we also need to discuss is, if we withdraw, does that mean at no point will we want to go back and rejoin?”

The debate in the ANC is going on in parallel with the AU’s call to member states not to co-operate with the ICC.

African Court on Human and People’s Rights
Bapela said South Africa was committed to having the African Court on Human and People’s Rights to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity on the continent. The AU hoped that it would one day replace the ICC on African matters.

“Although a worrying thing is that it is under-resourced. It needs more funding,” he said.

The budget allocated for the court for 2016 is $12-million but half of that is for salaries.

The crux of the argument against the ICC is its failure to prosecute Western leaders accused of committing atrocities.

The nonmembership of countries such as the United States and Britain, as well as the protracted time it takes to prosecute those arrested by the Netherlands-based court, are other sticky issues.

‘So much wrong’
“There is so much wrong happening in the ICC. It is not designed for dealing with African countries,” Bapela said.

“And there is an issue with funding – 66% of its money comes from the EU [European Union].”

Although al-Bashir’s presence in the country caused mixed feelings, the requirement to arrest him did not come as a surprise to the government and the timing of events suggests it tried – and failed – to shield him.

On May 28, two weeks before al-Bashir landed in South Africa, the ICC formally reminded South Africa of its obligation to arrest the Sudanese president. It did so though a diplomatic memo, known as a note verbale, addressed to the South African embassy in The Hague, the seat of the ICC.

Six working days later, Nkoana-Mashabane gazetted a notice that AU delegates would enjoy full diplomatic immunity.

Netherlands ambassador
Ironically, considering subsequent events, the ICC’s note verbale became the responsibility of South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, to send home.

Koloane was the chief of state protocol when a planeload of wedding guests of the politically connected Gupta family landed at Waterkloof.

A government report into the scandal found that Koloane was a prime culprit in the national security breach, but found no fault on the part of Zuma, in whose name the landing was organised.

Koloane was appointed an ambassador soon after this incident.

This week, the ICC would not say whether it had scheduled another meeting with Koloane to ask how al-Bashir had managed to leave South Africa.

Pretoria’s position
But the ICC met Koloane on June 12, at his request. At that meeting, he presented Pretoria’s position: that South Africa had competing obligations on al-Bashir.

“In response to this, the representatives of South Africa were [told]

that there is no ambiguity in the law and that the Republic of South Africa is under the obligation to arrest and surrender to the court Omar al-Bashir,” the ICC said of that meeting. Neither Koloane nor his legal counsel at the embassy were available for comment.

South Africa was told as much again, in writing, on June 13, the same day al-Bashir landed in the country.

Possible consequences for South Africa are limited to being reported to the United Nations’ Security Council – which includes nonmembers of the ICC – but Pretoria is relying on its “good friends” sitting on that body to let it off the hook.

Russia and China
A diplomatic source said: “Russia and China are South Africa’s good friends. They will veto this matter.”

China is known for its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries.

South Africa hopes that, if it withdraws from the ICC, more of the 34 African countries that are signatories will follow suit, a situation that would strengthen the African Court.

Sudan’s information attache in South Africa, Saif Ahmed, was said to be on leave in Sudan and the embassy in Pretoria was unwilling to release his phone number.

The Sudanese ambassador, Ali Yousif Ahmed Alsharif, was said by his personal assistant to be too busy to talk to the M&G.