Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan: bad news for China as Machar attacks oil fields

African Arguments

– By Tim Steinecke

SudanOilField

The current conflict in South Sudan has now lasted nearly half a year, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese. Oil, South Sudan’s only major source of revenue, has neither been the reason for nor the focus of the conflict up to this point. But this is rapidly changing as the flow and whereabouts of the oil revenue, as well as the security of the oil fields themselves, moves to the very centre of the conflict.

Although production is only at half-capacity, oil revenue continues to fill Juba’s coffers with roughly $15 million a day. The income from the oil sector is the main financial support for the government of Salva Kiir in Juba and its armed fight against former vice president Riek Macher and rebel groups. Riek Machar has, in recent weeks, been struggling to maintain his fight against the government, in part due to a relative lack of resources available to the rebels compared to the government.

Over the last week the attacks on both the oil fields and a planned refinery in the oil-producing Unity State have intensified significantly. Attacking South Sudan’s oil sector is intended to cut off Salva Kiir’s main source of income and limit his political and military capabilities severely. It is highly unlikely that a scenario will develop in which the armed groups around Riek Machar are able to secure access to substantial oil revenues. However, threatening to, or actually disrupting oil production might be used as a bargaining chip in the negotiations with Kiir’s government, as well as in the ongoing negotiation process currently underway in Addis Ababa. Disrupting oil revenues means cutting deep into the lifeline of the government in Juba as well as threatening both the profits of international oil companies and the safety of their personnel.

All of this is bad news for the main actors in South Sudan’s oil business, namely the three national oil companies; the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), and Malaysia’s Petronas. It is especially bad news for Beijing and somewhat ironic that China might find itself once again at the epicentre of the conflict in South Sudan.

China, unlike the other two international actors in South Sudan’s oil sector, has always played a more significant political and economic role in Sudanese-South Sudanese politics and economics as well as the regional oil sector. It was a result of the close ties between China and the government of Sudan (North) that rebel groups targeted Chinese companies ahead of independence in 2011. The goal was to increase their leverage over the government in Khartoum. Following independence, China and South Sudan went through a rough yet effective phase of rapprochement. Their new relationship even managed to survive the oil shutdown between January 2012 and April 2013. Then, in December 2013, the armed conflict broke out.

China’s role in the region has become more obvious over recent months. China’s special envoy to Africa, Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, undertook numerous trips to the region since December, leading some international commentators to question the future of Beijing’s non-interference policy. Ambassador Zhong not only visited Juba, but also Khartoum, Addis Ababa, and Kampala, all of which Beijing has established very close relations with and all of which are key actors in South Sudan’s conflict. While China might not be ready to abandon its formal notion of non-interference, South Sudan’s conflict has shown a more confident and assertive side of Beijing’s diplomacy.

Riek Machar and his armed followers will recognise the political and economic leverage that Beijing has, not only with Salva Kiir in Juba, but throughout the region. If Machar wants to pressure Kiir into further concessions and show his remaining influence in South Sudan, targeting the oil sector and its foreign actors, such as Chinese companies and their personnel, would be a potentially effective step.

Any action involving the South Sudanese oil sector and Chinese companies will create something of a dilemma for Riek Machar. On the one hand, any action involving the oil sector and Chinese companies will improve his bargaining position and give further credence to his position as a power-broker in the country. On the other hand, Machar risks alienating China as the most important external power in the country and entire region. China remains a critical future partner should Machar’s plans succeed. But the rebel leader will also want to uphold an image of statesmanship and respectability as a  future partner for Beijing, rather than that of a dangerous outlaw.

With the rebel attack on Bentiu this week, Machar has proven that he is willing to take on South Sudan’s oil sector. His warning to foreign oil companies to vacate the region within a week seems to indicate that he is not yet ready to involve China and other foreign actors. It is a slippery slope, since Machar himself recently admitted that controlling all factions of the rebels is proving to be a difficult task.

The CNPC, as well as OVL and Petronas, have reason to be concerned for their investments, profits, and the safety of their staff. The governments in Beijing, Delhi, and Kuala Lumpur have to consider playing an even more constructive and active role in finding a solution to South Sudan’s conflict. It is in their best interests too.

Tim Steinecke is a PhD student at St Andrews University working on the influence of national oil companies on Chinese, Indian and Malaysian foreign policy towards South Sudan. You can follow him on Twitter @t_steinecke.

South Sudan army admits losing Unity state’s Bentiu to rebel forces

Sudan Tribune


 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese government official has officially admitted that rebel forces were “in control” of Bentiu, the strategic oil-rich capital of Unity state.

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South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar gestures as he talks to his men in Jonglei January 31, 2014 (Reuters Goran Tomasevic)

“They (rebels) are inside Bentiu now. It is under their complete control,” Unity state’s deputy governor, Stephen Mabek Lang told reporters Tuesday.

The official, in close contact with government troops on the ground, said the army pulled out after a commanding officer allegedly withdrew without notifying his forces.

“This unfortunate development discouragement reinforcement from other areas, Mabek told group of government officials who came to pick and rushed him to his accommodation. We will talk. Let me go and rest,” he said at Juba airport.

Military sources claimed fighters under the command of Maj. Gen. Puljang Mathews withdrew from Rubkona on Tuesday without their knowledge making it possible for the rebels to quickly penetrate parts of the town without facing any armed resistance.

It is still unclear whether the commanding officer remained on one part of the town fighting on the government side or withdrew together with pro-government troops.

Gordon Buay, spokesperson of the former rebel faction to which Maj. Gen Puljang belonged prior to accepting presidential amnesty and becoming part of the government-allied forces, clarified that the latter was within the area and did not defect.

“Puljang did not defect. What happened is a negligent from Bilpam because they failed to take ammunition to our forces in Bentiu,” Buay told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

He insistently the commanding officer was somewhere in Bentiu fighting for the government.

South Sudan’s army (SPLA) spokesperson, however, said fighting was still continuing in Bentiu, despite the rebels and some government officials confirming it’s recapture.

“The information we have from our forces on the ground is that fighting is still continuing. The rebels have attempted to penetrate the town through one part of the town but they are being pushed away,” Phillip Aguer told reporters on Tuesday.

“Our forces are still inside the town fighting,” he added, revising his earlier remarks that the SPLA repulsed a rebel attempt enter Bentiu town on Monday and controlled it.

Government forces have recaptured several rebel-held areas and border towns in recent months, closing off supply routes from neigbouring countries and securing the main artery leading west from Wau town, capital of western Bahr el Ghazal, via Mayom county to Bentiu.

(ST)

Tanzania – Dar floods kill 40 and strand hundreds

Tanzania Daily News/allAfrica

Tanzania: Hundreds Stranded At Ubungo Terminal

Photo: Emmanuel Gbemudu/IRIN

Floods cut off Dar es Salaam from other parts of the country (file photo).

HUNDREDS of passengers travelling upcountry were still stranded at the Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam yesterday following the weekend downpour that washed away bridges, literary cutting off the country’s commercial capital from other parts of the country.

Major bridges connecting the city and the regions crumbled under the pressure of the rains, which also flooded roads and villages.

They include the Ruvu Bridge along the Morogoro- Dar es Salaam Highway, Mpiji Bridge along the Dar es Salaam- Bagamoyo Road as well as Mzinga Bridge that connects Dar es Salaam and the southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara and some parts of Coast region.

The Director-General of Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), Dr Agnes Kijazi, said the rains will continue although not in the same degree of ferocity as those witnessed over the weekend.

“Our earlier caution for heavy rains ends today (yesterday) but we are still working around the clock to examine the situation,” the TMA boss said.

According to the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Saidi Meck Sadiki, as of yesterday 13 people were confirmed dead as a result of the floods caused by the rains.

A visit by this newspaper at the terminal witnessed hapless passengers who were unsure of when they would make it to their destinations, as authorities have banned any passenger bus to leave the terminal due to the destruction of infrastructure.

As of Monday afternoon, only passenger buses and small vehicles were allowed to cross the Ruvu Bridge, which was earlier impassable as water had overflown it.

The Officer-Commanding Station (OCS) at the UBT, Inspector of Police Yusuf Kamotta, told journalists that as of 1:00pm on Monday there was no bus, which was allowed to leave the terminal.

“Only buses and small vehicles that were stuck at Ruvu were allowed to pass over the bridge and bring their passengers to Dar es Salaam after they were stranded there for the past few days,” Inspector Kamotta explained.

The buses started arriving at the terminal at mid-day yesterday. Some drivers of the buses tried to persuade Inspector Kamotta to allow them carry passengers and continue with the journey but he was adamant.

There were also passengers who wanted assistance from the police to have their fare refunded after they booked buses to travel by unscrupulous touts, only to learn later that there would be no journey after all.

Mr Sadiki was optimistic, however, that transport to upcountry regions would resume in the near future as the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) was working to repair damages at the affected bridges.

The Territorial Traffic Police Commander, Mr Mohamed Mpinga, said authorities had decided to stop vehicles from crossing over the Ruvu Bridge after it was deemed unsafe.

He explained further that efforts were underway to fill the affected area with boulders to make it stronger to allow vehicles to cross over the bridge safely.

South Sudan – heavy fighting in Unity State

Sudan Tribune


April 14, 2014 (KAMPALA) – Rebel spokesperson Peter Riek Gew says forces from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) loyal to president Salva Kiir attacked their hideout in the north of Unity state on Sunday night.

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A South Sudanese government soldier stands in front of a vehicle in South Sudan’s Unity State on 12 January 2014 (AP)

However, he claims rebels defended their positions and have captured an oil field, about 35km from the state capital, Bentiu.

The incident is the latest blow to a ceasefire deal signed between the South Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition.

“We have been respecting [the] ceasefire agreement for so long but the SPLA never do that. We have managed to repulse [a] twin attack launched by [the] SPLA on us that led to our gallant forces – SPLA in Opposition – to capture Tor-abieth, Tharwangyiela, kilo 30 (Sikasik) which is known as Kubur Nyabol,” said Gew told Sudan Tribune phone, adding that rebel troops were now advancing towards the capital.

Many residents have fled Bentiu over the past three days amid fears of imminent rebel attacks.

On Sunday, government forces blocked some people from entering a UN protection site at Rubkotna.

Sources inside the UNMISS camp in Bentiu town told Sudan Tribune by phone on Monday morning that the sound of heavy gunfire could be heard outside.

“We are hearing artillery shelling and numbers of civilians are running inside [the] UN camp,” said an aid worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last week, former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar said he intended to launch mass attacks targeting oil fields.

He said the move was designed to stop the flow of oil money, which it claims is being used by the Juba administration to “rent” foreign forces.

Unity state has changed hands several times since political tensions erupted in violence in the nation’s capital, Juba, in mid-December last year.

The conflict, which has since spread throughout the country, has pitted government troops loyal to Kiir against pro-Mahar rebels.

Ongoing peace talks between the warring parties brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has failed to quell the violence, with both sides accusing each other of violating the terms of a ceasefire deal signed on 23 January in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

(ST)

Kenya’s uphill battle to tackle corrupt police force

Mail and Guardian

Kenyans are losing patience with their ill-equipped and notoriously corrupt police force.

Poorly paid police officers and their families often have to share cramped and dilapidated quarters in Nairobi.

Their capital tarred with the nickname “Nairobbery” and under almost constant threat of attack by Islamist militants, Kenyans are losing patience with the ill-equipped and notoriously corrupt police force.

A catalogue of security failures has exposed the inability of Nairobi’s underpaid police to deal with the severe security problems, prompting President Uhuru Kenyatta to step in and promise a massive overhaul.

But analysts and security experts say it will be an uphill struggle to undo the broken relationship between public and police, given the ingrained stigma attached to the job and the fact that Kenyans have resorted to mob justice or now-ubiquitous private security firms.

“The public in Kenya has never really trusted the police, hence the failure of such noble concepts as community policing,” said Ken Ouko, a sociology professor at the University of Nairobi.

Joining the police has always been viewed as a career choice of last resort akin to an admission of academic failure, Ouko said.

“Most policemen carry with them an anger that quietly seethes underneath as they go about their daily operations,” he added.

The result is plain to see: anti-corruption website, ipaidabribe.or.ke, provides daily accounts of police extortion, mainly involving motorists stopped for spurious traffic violations and told to pay up or go to jail.

On social media, police are held in almost constant contempt. There was particularly vehement ridicule in January when police downplayed an explosion at Nairobi airport, saying it was an exploding light bulb, only later to arrest four Somalis and charge them with a terrorist attack.

Outside of Nairobi, the picture is no better. Police in western Kenya are still embroiled in a scandal after a group of alleged gang rapists were ordered to cut the grass at a police station as punishment.

And there are frequent reports of mobs lynching alleged thieves for crimes as petty as stealing a chicken.

Low salaries

Police salaries contribute to the low esteem and lack of motivation: the lowest ranking Kenyan police officers are currently paid $200 a month, way below the average cost of renting a small Nairobi apartment.

Officers and their families often have to share cramped and dilapidated quarters, sometimes with only a thin partition or curtain separating them from the next family.

This is seen as a major factor driving the alarming number of burglaries and armed robberies in which the police are implicated.

The lack of trust and security is clear across Nairobi’s changing cityscape, dominated by residential compounds with high walls, razor wire and bars on windows.

Police have also drawn ire for rounding up thousands of ethnic Somalis in indiscriminate counter-terrorism raids.

In a state of the nation address to Parliament last month, Kenyatta admitted an “unacceptable lack of coordination in our handling of crime”, and said “public frustration and anger” over bad policing had “occasionally boiled over into mob injustice”.

The president vowed to put more officers on the streets and pay give them better salaries, housing and health insurance.

He said the government would also provide the force—whose officers have been known to beg for a lift if called to a crime scene—with more sophisticated surveillance equipment and 1 200 new vehicles.

But Peter Kiama, director of the Nairobi-based rights group Independent Medico Legal Unit, says the problem runs far deeper than low salaries and poor equipment.

“While I fully support the need to invest in police capacity and welfare, I do believe that incentives may not matter at all as long as the mindset of the officers does not change,” said Kiama, whose organisation monitors police brutality and torture.

He said his organisation has documented 48 deaths at the hands of the police between January and March this year.

Some police, particularly the anti-terrorism unit, have come under fire for alleged abuses including torture, arbitrary detentions and disappearances, particularly against Muslims suspected of being militants.

Western diplomats have also voiced frustration over the lack of police capacity in a region subject to complex terrorist threats from al-Qaeda sympathisers in East Africa and the Horn of Africa.

“Most policemen would sooner take a bribe than stop a terrorist attack, and there are others who are happy to bump people off and feed them to the hyenas,” said a European law enforcement expert, who asked not to be named.

A senior Kenyan police detective admitted the situation was dire and that years of neglect had left the force out of sync with the changing security situation—whether in terms of small arms proliferation or last year’s siege of the Westgate shopping mall.

“There’s a need to have a paradigm shift within the police force to be in tandem with the changing patterns of crime and other emerging threats,” he said. – AFP

Central African Republic’s Prime MInister says UN committed to help

DW/allAfrica

Central African Republic: Nzapayeke – ‘The UN Is Committed to CAR’

interview

Central African Republic Prime Minister Nzapayeke tells DW he welcomes a UN decision to send 12,000 troops to his country. The peacekeepers will help restore stability and prepare the ground for next year’s elections.

The United Nations Security Council decided unanimously on Thursday (10.04.2014) to send nearly 12,000 peacekeepers to the Central African Republic. They are scheduled to start their mission in mid-September. What is your view of this decision?

The resolution was approved unanimously – that is good news and proves that the international community as a whole has committed to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the Central African Republic. We are very pleased to see the will is there on the part of the international community to help us.

The government in Chad recently decided to withdraw the 850 soldiers serving as part of the African Union mission to the CAR that was tasked with providing security. Is the Security Council’s decision a consolation for you?

You cannot call it that. This wasn’t a rushed decision made by the UN. It was well prepared, everyone involved carefully considered each step. There was a lot of communication, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Bangui last week. This vote was carefully considered by everyone who voted for it. We are sure of that. It addresses a serious responsibility – not a consolation.

The resolution has been passed, but now the troops need to be mobilized.

Ban Ki-moon promised us during his trip to Bangui that he would do everything he can to get the 12,000 soldiers deployed as quickly as possible. For a long time there has been a plan to evaluate the work of the African Union’s mission to the Central African Republic and consider its further development into a UN mission. That happened and we are very happy about it. We can look ahead with more confidence and more means for the organization of the planned national elections.

Representatives of the CAR at the Security Council called for the UN mission to be entrusted to an African. Is that really important?

It is a detail, but it is an important detail. It would be a message of encouragement to Africa. To show that Africa is taking its future into its own hands and deciding on the path it will go down on its own. We also cannot forget that the African countries in the region and the African Union have been supporting us for a long time ahead of the UN resolution. That is why we think it is fair that this UN mission be led by an African.

Andre Nzapayeke became interim prime minister of the transitional government in the Central African Republic in January 2014. New elections are scheduled to be held in 2015.

 

Kenya – wildlife officials suspended in anti-poaching drive

BBC

Kenya suspends wildlife officials in poaching crackdown

Conservationists fear Kenya has become a global hub for ivory smuggling

Kenya’s government has suspended five officials from the wildlife service, amid growing concern over the poaching of endangered elephants and rhinos.

The officials were suspended as part of an investigation into mismanagement.

The government will directly oversee the running of the wildlife service, responsible for Kenya’s national parks, for three months, a spokesman said.

Kenya has been facing growing condemnation over its failure to tackle an apparent rise in poaching.

Veteran conservationist Richard Leakey, a former boss of the Kenyan wildlife service, said last month that the country had become a global hub for ivory smuggling.

Dozens of poaching bosses had been allowed to act with “outrageous impunity”, he said, in “a national disaster” that could result in the extinction of elephants and rhinos in the country.

Kenya’s national parks are famed for their wild elephants
According to officials, at least 18 rhinos and more than 50 elephants have been killed so far this year – a similar rate to that recorded last year.

However, some conservationists argue that the true figure is much higher.

The wildlife service recently denied that it was losing the battle against poachers.

New recruits
On Friday, a senior environment ministry official, Richard Lesiyampe, said it had “become necessary” for the government to assume direct control of the wildlife service.

Mr Lesiyampe said the five officials had been placed on leave so as to pave the way for an investigation into the management of the service.

The AFP news agency quoted him as saying that the investigation would ask why sophisticated equipment – such as night-vision goggles and weapons – had yet to be deployed against the poachers, despite having been paid for.

“The poaching and trafficking in wildlife… has increased in sophistication and scope,” he said. “We want to understand why our efforts are not working.”

He also told reporters that the service would be restructured and equipped with 50 new vehicles and hundreds of new recruits.

The demand for ivory and rhino horn is being driven by China and south-east Asia, where these products are marketed as ornaments or so-called medicines.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26997985

Kenyan Muslim leaders protest over anti-Somali sweep and arrestsy

Standard
Leaders now claim police swoop breeding animosity

By BRIGID CHEMWENO

Nairobi, Kenya: Muslims have condemned the ongoing blanket security swoop in Eastleigh and Mombasa to weed out illegal immigrants saying it is targeting innocent Somalis and Muslims.

Addressing the press in Jamia Mosque, Nairobi, after prayers Friday, the group led by former National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Farah Maalim said innocent Muslims and Somalis suffered at the hands of overzealous security officers adding that most of the refugees fled their country’s due to insecurity.

“Ours is not an evil doctrine and the Government should not target only one community in fighting terror in the country. I know senior Government officials will go to Church this weekend and talk about this swoop, a scenario which will create animosity between Muslims and Christians,” said Maalim.

The security operation has brought torture to the victims since women are not handled according to the Muslim faith hence infringing on their privacy, he said.

Maalim said the recent attacks in the country were not done by Muslims yet the Government took their security operations to areas where Muslims reside. And when a terror attack is reported, it is always linked with the Muslim community and the Somalis living in the country, an issue he termed as biased.

“We are aware of the security situation in the country but the state should practise its mandate to protect Kenyans. When there is a concern about security, there is always a blanket condemnation on the Muslims,” he added.

He complained that the victims are losing money through extortion in the security operation and others are deported against their will.

Trying moments

Ibrahim Lethome, a member of Jamia Mosque who spoke on behalf of the Muslim religious and business community said what is being conducted in Eastleigh and Mombasa is against the rights of Muslims and that Government should play its rightful role to protect its people.

“These are the trying moments for the religious Muslim community as they are viewed as perpetrators of crimes but we call upon the Muslims to be patient as we consult on the issue and maintain peace. We also urge the Imams in their various Mosques to conduct special prayers for peace and ask Kenyans to avoid using words which can bring animosity,” said Lethome.

Also present was Mandera senator Billow Kerrow who cautioned senior Government officials to be careful of their remarks to the public lest they bring a division between Muslims and Christians.

Kerrow said the Government should stop the security swoop in Eastleigh and initiate investigations adding the business community was counting losses because of the exercise.

“Somalis without legal status in the country should be deported but we were shocked to hear of a senator who was detained in the crackdown yet he had valid documents,” he said.
Muslims during prayers at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi, Friday. [PHOTO: MBUGUA KIBERA / STANDARD]

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http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/?articleID=2000109209&story_title=leaders-claim-police-swoop-breeding-animosity

Central African Republic refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

UN News Service

Central African refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon – UN agency

Central African Republic refugees at the Gbiti transit centre in Cameroon. Photo: UNHCR/M. Poletto

11 April 2014 – The United Nations refugee agency said today it is extremely concerned by reports that anti-Balaka militiamen are blocking and attacking civilians trying to flee violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Over the past two weeks, our colleagues in Cameroon have been seeing refugees arrive with wounds from machetes or gunshots,” Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva.

She said UNHCR staff had also seen increasing numbers of people crossing into Cameroon via remote border entry points in an effort to evade the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias.

“New arrivals told our colleagues that anti-Balaka militias have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing them to wade through the bush for two to three months before reaching the border,” she said. “The refugees also said that the anti-Balaka attacked them during their flight.”

The majority of the new arrivals are women, children and elderly people, and all are Muslims. They told UNHCR staff that the men stayed in CAR to create self-defence groups to protect their community and their cattle.

“UNHCR is calling on the anti-Balaka to stop preventing civilians from fleeing to neighbouring countries for safety. We are also calling on all sides to the conflict to renounce violence,” said Ms. Fleming.

Over 290,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries in search of refuge from the ongoing conflict in CAR, which began in December 2012 with attacks by mainly Muslim Séléka rebels. More than 650,000 are also internally displaced and 2.2 million, about half the population, are in need of humanitarian aid.

UNHCR said that despite the obstacles to their movement, an average of 10,000 people now cross weekly from CAR into eastern Cameroon. With the main entry points at Garoua Boulai and Kenzou no longer accessible due to anti-Balaka activities, people are using alternative routes.

“This has caused the number of entry points into Cameroon to grow from 12 to 27 over last three weeks, making it more challenging for our colleagues to monitor the border,” Ms. Fleming said.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received 69,389 refugees from CAR. This is on top of the 92,000 Centrafricain refugees who have fled in various waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

In a statement yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his call for an immediate end to the killings, targeted attacks and other atrocious human rights violations that continue with total impunity in CAR.

He also welcomed the establishment by the Security Council of a UN peacekeeping operation in the country, which he hoped will lead to the immediate, concrete and sustainable support that the Central African people need and deserve.  UN – http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47554&Cr=central+african+republic&Cr1=#.U0jxfctOVjo

Sudan’s defence minister says Darfur rebels must join peace process or be crushed

Sudan Tribune
Sudan’s defence minister vows decisive summer for Darfur rebels

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April 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, has called upon the rebel groups in Darfur to seek a negotiated peaceful solution, warning the summer campaign will bring rebellion in the restive region to an end.

Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein (File/Reuters)
Hussein, who addressed a public meeting with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in North Darfur capital Al-Fashir on Friday, said the government welcomes rebel groups who wish to join the peace process, adding the government made the necessary arrangements to end rebellion in the region.

“Rebels have to join peace before they be militarily crushed”, he said.

He further praised the RSF militias saying they set a good humanitarian example in dealing with hostages and citizens, pointing they provided services for the needy population in the region.

The director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohamed Atta, for his part, disclosed they dispatched other RSF units to South Kordofan state to fight against the SPLM-N rebels and maintain security in the state.

The SRF militia, which operates under the command of NISS, is formed August last year to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

SRF REBELS ACCUSE

Meanwhile the Sudanese rebel alliance, SRF, announced in a statement issued by its top military commander, Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu, they obtained “certain information” that NISS is undertaking a plan in coordination with the military intelligence, the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), aiming to mobilise tribal militias to fight against its forces in Blue Nile, Nuba Mountain, North Kordofan, and Darfur.

He added that those militias, which include forces recruited from outside Sudan, will target civilians to displace them from rebel areas. But, the government will cover these attacks, describing it as tribal clashes.

The statement added this task was assigned to a force stationed in Al-Fayed village in Rashad district in the Nuba Mountains, pointing the force is commanded by Brig. Gen. Abdel-Samad Babiker, Lieu. Col. Mohamed Al-Fatih Ahmed, and Maj. Gen. Mohamed Al-Rabie’.

The force is also supported by a battalion of Mujahideen (holy fighters) from Khartoum and a battalion of the paramilitary PDF, according to the statement.

The rebels said the militias backed by aerial bombardment, shelled Toumi and Al-Mansour areas in South Kordofan and burned several villages including Toumi, Al-Mansoura, Tarawa, Kluro, Tendimen, Taglbo, Teri and other villages in order to force villagers to move to the government controlled areas.

Al-Hilu called upon rights groups and human rights activists to condemn the scorched land policy carried out by the government and expose regime’s repressive policies against defenceless citizens.

The commander of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, for his part, denied that his force committed war crimes or violated civilians’ rights in the region, accusing rebel groups of seeking to tarnish their image.

He said the RSF is innocent of these criminal practices, underscoring they arrested groups of outlaws who attacked civilians north of the town of Mellit while they were chasing remnants of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) following an attack on the town last month.

The African Union and United Nations Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, had last March openly accused the RDF of attacking civilians.

He condemned in his address at Um Jaras peace forum the RSF attacks, saying they were the main cause of displacement of thousands of villagers.

The rebel SLM-MM carried out attacks in South and North Darfur states triggering reprisal attacks by government militias on villages suspected of support to the rebels. These attacks coincided with tribal clashes in the North Darfur state.

The violence displaced over 215,000 civilians in the state.

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50612