Category Archives: East Africa

US targets al-Shabaab leader

Bloomberg

U.S. Targets al-Shabaab Leader as Africans Meet on Attacks

Source: AFP/Getty Images

This undated and unlocated picture provided by U.S. website ‘Rewards for Justice’ shows top al-Shabaab leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed.

Source: AFP/Getty Images

This undated and unlocated picture provided by U.S. website ‘Rewards for Justice’ shows top al-Shabaab leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed.

U.S. drones targeted the head of the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab in southern Somalia, a regional governor said, as African leaders met in Kenya to discuss ways of dealing with the threat posed by militants.

Ahmed Abdi Godane was among a number of “high-ranking” al-Shabaab officials who were meeting at Dhaytubako, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, when the drones struck late yesterday, Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said in a phone interview today. The Pentagon said in an e-mailed statement that it carried out an operation against al-Shabaab, without providing further details.

“We believe that a large number of senior al-Shabaab officials have been hurt in the attack, but I cannot specifically confirm if Godane was killed,” Mohamed Nur said. “He was among those meeting during the attack.”

Godane, also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed, was named as emir of al-Shabaab in December 2007, according to the United Nations, which lists him among 13 organizations and individuals subject to sanctions. In June 2013, he carried out a purge of dissident leaders to tighten his control over the group, assassinating Ibrahim al-Afghani, a senior al-Shabaab leader who had criticized Godane’s leadership, according to Austin, Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence.

In September 2013, Godane claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in which at least 67 people died. The U.S. has offered a $7 million reward for information on his whereabouts.

Militants Killed

The Associated Press said that Godane was in one of two vehicles hit in the drone strike, citing Abu Mohammed, a commander of al-Shabaab. Mohammed did not say whether Godane was among six militants killed in the attack, it said.

The U.S. has carried out previous raids in Somalia, including one in January that targeted an unidentified al-Shabaab leader. The group, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia since 2006.

No further information is available about yesterday’s strike, Defense Department spokeswoman Lt.-Col. Vanessa Hillman said in an e-mailed response to questions.

African leaders meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said more concerted action is needed to defeat the threat posed by al-Shabaab and other insurgent groups in Africa. Governments on the continent have failed to take action that is “commensurate” with the threat posed by militant groups, African Union Peace and Security Council Chairman Idriss Deby said at the summit.

‘Terrorist Incidents’

Attacks by militants have left thousands of people dead across the continent. Boko Haram Islamist militants in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, killed more than 2,000 people in the first half of this year in their campaign to impose Islamic rule, according to Human Rights Watch.

On the other side of the continent, at least 179 people have died in “terrorist incidents” in Kenya, Bath-based risk consultancy Maplecroft said, while in Libya, Islamists are battling for control of the capital, Tripoli.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced at the summit that a fund will be created to combat militant groups, without providing further details.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, the African Union Peace and Security Council urged its members to work toward preventing recruitment of their nationals into militant groups operating on the continent and other territories like Iraq and Syria.

The council also urged member states to increase their efforts to stop transnational organized crime including drug trafficking so that insurgents don’t gain proceeds from those activities.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu at msheikhnor@bloomberg.net; David Malingha Doya in Nairobi at dmalingha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Paul Richardson, Karl Maier

Kenya – Red Cross calls on Kenyatta to use troops to stop clan clashes

IRIN

Red Cross to Kenyatta: send troops to quell clan clashes

NAIROBI, 1 September 2014 (IRIN) – Frustrated by a resurgence of intercommunal conflict, Kenya’s top humanitarian official has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to make good on a threat to deploy the army in perennially restive areas in the country’s northeast.

“The head of state is fully aware of this situation,” Abbas Gullet, secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), told IRIN in the wake of renewed clashes between the Garre and Degodia communities in Mandera County.

“He has met the leaders of these two communities [in 25 June] and he had given them his own ultimatum that they either put their house in order or he will be forced to go in [with army troops]. It is now time to act,” Gullet said.

He added: “These are militias; these are men who are fully armed, trained and sometimes wear uniform, and go totally unobstructed to do what they want to do.”

The June meeting led to a lull after months of intermittent hostilities in the county left dozens dead and more than 13,000 displaced from their homes.

This lull was broken on 22 August when the armed group stormed the town of Rhamu, (population 40,000), 76km west of Mandera town.

As of 28 August 2014, a total of 18,000 households had been displaced and are currently living in seven displacements sites within Rhamu in Mandera North sub-county. About 77 people have lost their lives and more than 95 have been injured since January due to the conflict between the two main clans in Mandera, according to KRCS. Several houses have also been torched.

“Many are living in police camps and hospitals while others have fled to neighbouring villages. The security situation has not improved and people are still living in fear of possible attacks. They are in need of humanitarian assistance,” Abdi Omar, an officer with the Rural Agency for Community Development and Assistance, told IRIN.

KRCS said: “The Mandera North situation is worsening both in terms of the conflict and drought [including] fresh attacks… The county [government] has released to KRCS 340 metric tonnes of assorted food to distribute to the displaced households in the seven sites.”

On 31 August, unknown people attacked a police post in Mandera County and destroyed a building before they were repulsed by security forces.

Apart from Mandera, intercommunal conflict has affected other northern counties such as Wajir, Garissa and Marsabit, where 95 people died in clashes between January and June 2014.

Between January and June 2014, at least 125 people were killed country-wide, scores injured and 215,479 uprooted from their homes, many of them in the northeast, according to KRCS and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Sanitation, shelter and healthcare services have been badly affected in many areas affected by conflict, according to the KRCS.

This has led to a spike in cases of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, according to aid workers.

“while devolution was meant to reduce the feeling of marginalization, it has created minorities among minorities, as clans form political pacts and those left out have a feeling of being excluded “

Communities and clans in northeastern Kenya have historically fought over resources such as pasture and water for their livestock. The more recent conflicts have been attributed to disputes over the allocation of jobs and resources to 47 counties created under a new devolutionary political dispensation outlined in a 2010 constitution and put into effect after elections in 2013. The polls saw the election of entirely new positions: governors, senators and members of county assemblies.

Mubarak Haji, a local politician from Marsabit, said of the mood at the last elections:”All Kenyans were happy that at last resources allocation will not be determined by numerical or population strength. For our case it was same; we celebrated [after county governments were established] for weeks and intended to continue. The festival was short-lived, cut short and replaced with gun battles and mourning.”

Devolution to blame?

According to Abdi Mohamed, a Nairobi-based Horn of Africa peace and security analyst, “while devolution was meant to reduce the feeling of marginalization, it has created minorities among minorities, as clans form political pacts and those left out have a feeling of being excluded,”Mohamed told IRIN.

The county governments are now in charge of overseeing functions such as the provision of health care, pre-primary education, and maintenance of local roads – which were previously the responsibility of Kenya’s national government. In turn, these county governments will receive a share of national revenues.

The county governments will also be expected to mobilize revenue from other sources within their counties, such as taxes on property and entertainment.

However, since becoming operational, they have collectively spent less than 14 percent of their budgets – in Mandera’s case zero percent – on development projects, according to the office of the Controller of Budget.

According to analysts like Mohamed, the Degodia felt left out after the Garrre, the largest ethnic group in Mandera, forged political alliances with other smaller communities which saw them capture most of the locally elected political positions.

“That is the problem in Mandera now where the Degodia feel excluded politically, and [have] a feeling of not getting a place at the dinner table,” he said.

Foreign interference?

The police and some political leaders have blamed politicians and militias from neighbouring countries like Ethiopia and Somalia for interfering in the current conflict.

“The way the conflict is emerging shows it is just a spillover into Kenya. The conflict actually started in Ethiopia, where the same communities are represented. This is [a] spillover into our country and we are dealing with it. We are yet to establish any political connection,” Grace Kaindi, the deputy police chief, told local media on 27 August.

On 22 August, David Kimaiyo, the inspector general of police, said: “The problem here is the leaders [politicians] and we are going to take drastic action. Some of them will have to go to court once evidence is gathered against them.”

Ali Roba, the governor of Mandera County, told IRIN that one of the clans involved in the fighting had sought the support of Al Shabab elements.

“I have information that the Degodia sought the assistance of the Al Shabab elements and they [Al Shabab] were part of the gunmen who launched the attacks here,” Roba, said.

Fatia Mahabub, the Mandera County women’s representative, told IRIN: “It doesn’t matter whether foreign fighters are involved or not as this is all about the fight for political dominance.”

Mohamed said: “The settlement in Rhamu by the Garres who were uprooted from Wajir a few months ago has also angered the Degodia because of the feeling that this might further tilt the political balance in 2017 given that voting during elections here is done along clan lines.”

Kenya’s next elections for governors, senators, members of parliament and the president will be held in 2017.

“This is all about politics and those responsible must be held accountable,” said KRCS’Gullet.  IRIN

Somalia – US military operation against Al Shabab

Reuters

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 2, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al Shabaab militants in Somalia, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said.

“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.

Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.

African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centres and tracts of countryside.  Reuters

 

Kenya – Kenyatta to audit civil service and remove “ghost workers”

BBC

Kenya registers civil servants to target ‘ghost workers’

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation at Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi, 1 June 2014Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to make the public service more efficient

Kenya has started biometrically registering all civil servants in an attempt to remove “ghost workers” from the government’s payroll.

Employees who failed to register over the next two weeks would no longer be paid, a government statement said.

The government suspects that thousands of people continue to receive salaries after leaving the civil service.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to curb corruption in the public service after taking office in 2013.

An audit earlier this year found that at least $1m (£700,000) a month was lost in payments to “ghost workers” and other financial malpractice.

The government suspects that salaries continue to be deposited into bank accounts, even after a person dies or leaves the public service, reports the BBC’s Wanyama Chebusiri from the capital, Nairobi.

All public servants are required to present themselves over the next two weeks at identification centres to ensure their data is captured through the biometric registration exercise, a government statement said.

Anyone who failed to do so without a valid excuse would be eliminated from the payroll, it said.

“This exercise will contribute significantly to the rationalization of the public service by determining the actual numbers of public servants and will also be used to cleanse the payroll at both levels of government- hence bring a stop to the issue of ‘ghost workers’,” said Anne Waiguru, the cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.

See also report from March:

Standard Digital

Audit to clear ghost workers from government payroll

By JACKSON OKOTHUpdated Tuesday, March 11th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3

Chairman of the Budget and Appropriation Committee Mutava Musyimi (right) explains a point to chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Sarah Serem at KICC Monday during the national dialogue on how to contain the public wage bill. [PHOTO: /STANDARD]

By JACKSON OKOTH

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Ministry of Devolution and Planning is carrying out a comprehensive audit of the entire Government payroll system in order to clear all ghost workers.

This comes amid growing concerns that Kenya’s ballooning public sector wage bill has reached unsustainable level.

Available figures indicate that Kenya spends over 55 per cent of its revenue, which is about 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to pay salaries to public servants.

“If we continue with this trend, a large part of our resources will be dedicated to maintaining the public service. But we also have other priorities such as investing in irrigation to achieve food security and building infrastructure to reduce cost of doing business,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He made these remarks while launching a national dialogue on how to contain the public wage bill during a two-day forum that began yesterday at the KICC.

A recent report by the auditor general disclosed that some employees with county governments are earning more than their counterparts working for the National Government.

Introduction of the devolved system of Government had pushed up the public sector wage bill by Sh15.4 billion as at December 2013.

SIMILAR SKILLS

There is also duplication as county governments hire staff with similar skills to those seconded by the National Government,” said Ann Waiguru, Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning.

Earlier findings by the Devolution and Planning Ministry, in an audit covering some eight ministries, had shown some workers who left the service either through retirement, death or resignation were still drawing salaries while other employees had more than one payslip.

The Government is said to be losing close to Sh100 million per month to ghost workers and other malpractices, audits reveal.

“We need to do a comprehensive job evaluation of all State officers using GDP, revenue and government spending as parameters. The most challenging task would be to link salaries and benefits paid to civil servants with performance of the economy,” said Sarah Serem, chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

While Serem works on a part time basis at the SRC, she has proposed that her sitting allowances being slashed 10 per cent. This is in response to a 20 per cent pay cut taken by President Kenyatta and his deputy as well as a 10 per cent pay cut by Cabinet secretaries.

“We need to review the various cadres, ratios and support staff that is not engaged, leaving only the technical staff,” said Serem.  Standard

South Sudan – MSF says cholera down but malaria and parasitic disease up

AlertNet

No respite for South Sudan: cholera down but malaria and parasitic disease up – MSF

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

A woman waits in a queue to collect water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Adriane Ohanesian

 

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – South Sudan’s cholera crisis is waning but humanitarian workers are now battling increased cases of malaria and the parasitic disease kala azar, with children most affected.

Conflict between the government and rebels has displaced 1.7 million people, or one in seven of the population, since December, with famine on the horizon.

At least 10,000 people have been killed since the fighting erupted in late 2013, pitting President Salva Kiir’s government forces against supporters of Riek Machar, his former deputy and longtime political rival.

While a cholera outbreak appears to be under control, other diseases are plaguing South Sudan’s hungry, displaced people.

The latest emergency operations are focusing on malaria and kala azar, a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of a sandfly which is usually fatal without treatment. MSF treated about 200 people for kala azar in Upper Nile State, one of the areas worst hit by fighting, in July.

With the onset of the rains producing stagnant water for mosquitoes, there has also been a “spike” in malaria, MSF said.

MSF treated almost 700 malaria cases in Pamat and Aweil, the capital of northern Bahr el Ghazal State in July, mostly pregnant women and children. There are tens of thousands of displaced people in the area, which is to the west of the main oil-rich conflict zone.

The appalling conditions in which the 1.1 million internally displaced live increases their vulnerability.

“Camps for the displaced have been turned into flood zones, forcing people to live in virtual swamps without adequate supply of clean drinking water, latrines or sanitation,” MSF said.

CHOLERA IN DECLINE

Between April and mid-August, 5,868 cholera cases have been reported, including 130 deaths, the United Nations said in its latest update.

“MSF is now seeing a decline in cholera cases in many areas,” the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

MSF has closed two of its cholera treatment centres in the capital, Juba, where the outbreak began, while maintaining one treatment unit.

The displaced camp inside the United Nations base in Bentiu, Unity State, is one of the largest, sheltering 45,000 people. Most of the shelters are flooded or damaged, MSF said, with people wading knee-deep through muddy water.

“Although mortality rates in the camp have been reduced, at least one child is still dying every day,” it said. “Many of these deaths are preventable and are directly attributed to inadequate living conditions.”

Malnourished children easily fall prey to malaria because their bodies are so weak.  AlertNet

DR Congo-Rwanda – accusations that DRC officers wives involved in business with Hutu rebels

News of Rwanda/allAfrica

Rwanda: FDLR Generating U.S. $71 Million From Businesses With Wives of DRC Officers

Photo: Radio Okapi

Rwandan soldiers in DR Congo (file photo).

Rwandan FDLR rebels are making millions of dollars annually with help from Congolese army units in the east of the massive country, says a classified MONUSCO document sent to New York.

The militia group calling itself the democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda or FDLR maintains a large business empire managed by ICC fugitive SylvestreMudacumura and Defence Commissioner, AugustinNsengimana.

To operate without any problems, Congolese army officers provide safe passage for goods which have been supplied to wives of the Congolese officers by FDLR contacts. The Congolese military officers are on the battle-front, but their wives are managing booming businesses.

These never-before details have been compiled in a classified investigation sent to New York last month by the UN mission in DR Congo – or MONUSCO.The MONUSCO document was prepared by the ‘Joint Mission Analysis Cell’ (JMAC) and titled at top in red as “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL”.

For North Kivu, the FDLR team in charge of making money is called “Miroir” – now based in the Kasugho area (approx. 70 km West of Lubero-Centre), where gold mining is pursued. For South Kivu, unit in charge of money generation, previously known as “Lunette”, was dissolved and was replaced by three liaison offices.

These are called Antennas, says the report.Apart from liaison functions, according to the MONUSCO document, those antennas also play a role in trafficking. The FDLR men responsible for these operations are Col Bonheur in Burhinyi (Mwenga), Lt Maurice in Mulenge (Uvira), and Adjutant Kidumu in Kanyantende (Mwenga).

In North Kivu province alone, the militia – whose members executed the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda and fled to Congo, has a group in charge of business totalling about 200 combatants.

“A general estimate (of FDLR revenues) arrives at several millions of US dollars. Much of the income is generated through taxation,” says the report.

“Profits are shared between FDLR, FARDC, and local Mayi-Mayi groups. ICCN estimates that illegal fishing and charcoal production annually generate around U$$32million and US$35 million respectively.”

The ICCN is the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature – which is a government agency – also managing the virunga national park, whose director Emmanuel de Merode was ambushed in April by suspected FDLR rebels.

According to the MONUSCO document, an estimated 92% of charcoal used in North Kivu comes from the Virunga National Park supplied by the FDLR. Approximately two FUSO trucks drive down the Kikuku – Sake axis every day, carrying 300 charcoal bags per truck on average.

FDLR sells each bag at around US $15 to businessmen, who, once in Goma, sell them at US $25 to US $30 each. The gross selling price could be around US $9,000 per day. The detail price could be up to US $18,000. Two other trucks are also supplying the Rutshuru – Goma axis each day, generating between US $8 to US $10 for each bag on the FDLR side. The gross selling price could be around US $4,800 to US $9,600 per day.

The FDLR illicit trade involves timber, hemp, illegal fishing, poaching and gold mining.When combined with illegal taxation, the total revenue from these sectorstotals at least $71million annually.

Regarding the hemp (urumogi in Kinyarwanda) production, in the border area of Lubero-Walikaleand in Ruthsuru, enormous amounts of ‘chanvre’ – the local variety of cannabis – are cultivated.The FDLR rebels controls most of the production. The most important fields are situated in the villages of Ikobo, Lusamambo, Bukumbirwa, Buleusa, Miriki, LuofuLusoghaKanandavuko,Lueshe, Mirangi and Kateku.

Every harvest period approximately 10 tons of hemp is being produced. In a year, there are four production seasons. The biggest trade center is located in Miriki on the border of the Luberoand Walikale territories – eastern DRC.

“The principal buyers are wives of FARDC officers. (The FARDC controls the route to Goma via Rutshuru),” says the classified report obtained by News of Rwanda.

“The officers’ wives are the ‘négociants’ (traders) who buy the drugs; their husbands facilitate the transport. The FARDC has been involved in the drugs traffic for a long time.”

The document adds: “The transport is organized during the night. Youngsters, escorted by FDLR elements, carry bags of 60 kilos of hemp on their backs from the villages to the road. The drugs are loaded on trucks and hidden beneath layers of manioc bags. The trucks leave from the towns of Kayna, Kanyabayonga or Kirumba.”

FDLR resource mobilization also focuses on illegal taxation in some mining sites in Itombwe, Burhinyi, and Mukungwe, as well as on small-scale gold trade, the taxation of trade, charcoal, and the culture/exportation of hemp to Uvira – on to Burundi, and Tanzania through Mulenge, and Sange.

FDLR commanders in charge of business operations have reportedly established links with Butembo gold traders, which export their products through Kasindi border post, the third border post in North Kivu. FDLR money-making teams work with officers within FARDC 85th Military Sector hierarchy for obtaining weapons and ammunition supply.

Since November 2013, the ICCN has recorded the killing of five elephants in the general area of Kapopi (North West of Kiwanja) – several kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. Poaching networks are involving local poachers, FDLR and FARDC officers.

The classified brief says: “For instance in Kagando area (12 km N of Tongo), the wife of a local FDLR officer receives weapons from FARDC Lt Col Zaire Ndarihoranya (ethnic Hutu from Tongo, ex RCD-G, 1003rd Regt Cmdr in Beni up to January 2014, then called to Kinshasa). Weapons are handed over to a poacher group. When this group has collected enough ivory, the product is sent to Tongo, then Sake, where it is secured and later exported.”

IGAD insists South Sudan opposition signs ceasfire

Sunday Tribune

August 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chief mediator mediating the peace talks between the two warring parties in South Sudan under the auspices of the African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has insisted that SPLM In Opposition led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, did in fact sign the matrix on ceasefire agreement despite dismissal by the rebels.

In a briefing to the press in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin said the two parties had on Sunday signed the matrix for implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement (CoHA) which they signed since 23 January 2014 and called on them to abide by it and implement it fully.

He said what the rebels were saying was not true, adding they were attempting to renege on the agreement.

“They signed it. Having signed the matrix, if they come days later and say they haven’t signed it, it is just a gimmick exercise,” he told reporters.

Mesfin warned of tough actions by IGAD against the rebel group should they not succumb to the document.

“I advise [the rebel camp]…to play critical role in the resolution of the crisis which has put the lives of millions of South Sudanese at risk. Any violations will be met by robust and decisive action by IGAD, which will take all measures in its power to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening,” he said.

The tough comments by the chief mediator, who is Ethiopia’s former minister of foreign affairs, comes days after rebels spokespersons, including the chief negotiator, Gen Taban Deng Gai, dismissed as false the claims by IGAD that they signed the matrix.

The SPLM in Opposition said they neither signed the draft agreement on transitional government of national unity nor signed the ceasefire matrix, explaining that the document they were served with and signed was simply the rededication to the existing cessation of hostilities agreement which did not attach the matrix.

IGAD PLAYS GAMES

The SPLM In Opposition has, however, lashed at the regional bloc trying to mediate the peace process, criticising the body for allegedly resorting to playing unhelpful games after failing to ensure the two parties addressed the root causes of the conflict.

“We have come to understand that IGAD mediation is failing to address the root causes of this conflict and to call spade a spade. They have unfortunately chosen to resort to cunning games as a short cut to a mock peace agreement, which cannot work,” said Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak.

Dak when reached by Sudan Tribune on Saturday further said the regional body attempted to lure the rebel group into signing a document which was not yet agreed, by hiding its content from them.

He further explained that IGAD mediation provided only last page of the draft agreement on transitional government to the opposition leader, Riek Machar, to sign it without showing him the text and when Machar insisted that he wanted to see the contents of the text first, they declined and Machar couldn’t sign it.

He also added that when the two chief negotiators Taban Deng Gai and Nhial Deng Nhial signed the document on rededication to the existing cessation of hostilities agreement there was no matrix attached to it because the rebels made it clear they would not sign it if the foreign troops and rebel groups allied to president Salva Kiir’s government were not withdrawn from South Sudan as stipulated in the agreement.

“Now how come the matrix popped up in the rededication document when it was not there during the signing?” Dak inquired.

IGAD WAR PRETEXT

The rebel leader’s spokesperson accused IGAD of introducing the recent behaviour as a pretext for war against the opposition faction, saying they had the plan to deploy troops to fight for president Kiir and wanted a pretext in order to go to war.

“We suspect that IGAD is failing in the mediation and may be tempted to go for regional war which they may mistakenly think is a cheaper mean to impose fake peace on the people of South Sudan,” he said, adding this will lose more lives and increase the suffering of the people.

Dak said the regional block should now put aside their own interests in the South Sudanese conflict and work for genuine peace that should address the root causes of the crisis.

Mesfin acknowledged that the rebels have grievances on the protocol on agreed principles on transitional arrangements toward resolution of the crisis in South Sudan endorsed by the IGAD leaders last Monday.

The rebels had already contested the method imposed by the mediators saying they should be the moderator not the driving force that takes decisions instead of the warring parties.

They further say that the peace process should first address the root causes of the conflict, and then come to define who will be president or vice-president.

“We said IGAD was trying to put the cart before the horse because the issue of who to lead the transitional government would come later as a by-product of a peace agreement between the parties,” Dak said.

The violence erupted on 15 December in Juba when political debates within the ruling SPLM party turned violent, with Kiir and Machar becoming leading rivals.

Ugandan troops (UPDF) were immediately deployed to help restore stability and protect president Kiir’s leadership from collapse.

Machar’s opposition group said they would not sign the ceasefire matrix unless all foreign forces allied to president Kiir’s government, including the UPDF were fully withdrawn from South Sudan’s soil.

Seyoum Mesfin (L), chairperson of IGAD meditors, and Taban Deng Gai, SPLM In Opposition chief negotiator, attend the resumption of South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa on 11 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

IMG_0951.JPG

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