Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan sets limits on NGOs and companies using foreign staff


South Sudan sets limits on hiring foreign workers

JUBA Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:50pm BST

South Sudan's new Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin addresses the audience during the Heads of States and Governments International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Nairobi July 31, 2013.  REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

South Sudan’s new Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin addresses the audience during the Heads of States and Governments International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Nairobi July 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

(Reuters) – South Sudan will from next month require that companies and non-government organisations (NGOs) employ South Sudanese citizens unless they are unable to find locals with the necessary skills.

A government circular this week outlined the new rules, causing a stir as the published version said that only South Sudanese could be hired without mentioning exceptions. The foreign minister clarified the issue in a statement to Reuters.

“You need to give employment to the citizens except in those places where there is no capacity,” Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said, speaking by telephone.

Until now, companies or agencies operating in South Sudan have faced no such limitations on employment, hiring foreigners as they pleased without notifying the authorities. Now they will need to justify any decision to hire foreign staff to the Labour Ministry, the minister said.

The new law brings South Sudan – Africa’s newest country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011 – into line with other nations in east Africa and beyond, where to secure a work permit employers have to show why a foreigner needs to be hired.

Many foreigners work in South Sudan for aid agencies, which often require specialist medical skills or field experience, or oil firms, which often employ people with technical or other industry skills. At least three Kenyan banks or their joint ventures operate in South Sudan and bankers say it is difficult to find skilled workers in a nation where illiteracy is high.

The minister said the practice had been allowed to go unchecked.

“You find in some companies and NGOs it is 100 percent foreign,” he said. “That is why the citizens were complaining (about) not being employed when we have the capacity.”

The circular had stated without qualification: “NGOs, telecommunications companies, banks, insurance companies, oil companies, hotels and lodges must terminate the employment of all foreigners working with them.”

It said foreign workers should be notified that they would have to cease work from Oct. 15.

There are about 11 million people in South Sudan, and a vast number rely on subsistence farming or herding for their livelihood.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict between government forces and rebels since mid-December and aid agencies have been ramping up activities to try to stave off a famine that experts say is looming unless fighting stops and humanitarian work can continue without obstacles. reuters


The Sudanese connection in African ivory poaching

African Arguments

Ivory, insurgency and crime in central Africa: the Sudans connection – By Keith Somerville

keith somervilleAt the beginning of August, the minutes of a meeting of intelligence chiefs from African states were released, revealing the extent to which poaching and the smuggling of ivory and rhino horn were being used to fund insurgent groups in South Sudan, Al Shabaab in Somalia and the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

A separate report – published in the 19 August volume of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – estimated that poachers have killed 100,000 elephants in Africa in the last three years.  The rate of killing has been in excess of 7% – even higher in Central Africa – while the average annual population increase is only 5%.  This suggests a process of attrition that could lead to the extinction of the elephant, including in South Sudan.

Ivory funds insurgency and militias

The African intelligence meeting minutes, reported by South Africa’s Mail and Guardian, said that poaching was a serious political/security problem as well as an environmental one and that there was “a great deal of evidence of fledgling linkages between poaching and wildlife trafficking…and transnational organised criminal activities, including terrorism and weapons proliferation”. They said that they had information that groups from South Sudan were benefiting from the poaching and trafficking of wildlife. The security chiefs recommended that the matter be treated as a transnational security concern.

They were less forthcoming about the role of African armed forces – including the Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militias and the Ugandan army – in poaching and the smuggling of ivory.  Khartoum has traditionally been a route for ivory smuggling and the strong Chinese role in economic projects in Sudan increases its importance as a transit point for the illegal tusk trade.

Central Africa, where Sudanese poachers are active and help run the smuggling routes out of the continent, has a particularly high rate of killing of forest elephants. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol estimate that the region’s scattered elephant populations declined by 64% between 2002 and 2011.

The Sudan connection

Not all the poaching can be attributed to insurgent groups, but in areas of central and east Africa they are playing a major role. There is evidence of links between the Janjaweed in Darfur and the LRA; and also highly-mobile Chadian groups opposed to the Deby government. The Arabic-speaking communities from which the Janjaweed have been drawn have traditionally been involved in cross-border trade within the region and there is evidence of them carrying out poaching raids as far west as Cameroon as well as in Chad and CAR, and of being a key link in the chain that gets the ivory out of Africa to Vietnam, China and other destinations in Asia.

One piece of evidence that links the Sudanese militias to poaching across neighbouring states is the ammunition retrieved by Maisha Consulting, a group assisting a number of states with anti-poaching measures. They have found ammunition that matches series and types held by the Sudanese army’s arsenal in Khartoum – the Sudanese military being the main sources of arms and ammunition for the Janjaweed.

The event that drew most attention to the role and interconnections of insurgent groups in poaching was the killing two years ago of up to 450 elephants in Bouba N’Djida National Park, northern Cameroon. Local wildlife officials blamed horse-borne poachers from the Janjaweed and allied Chadian groups.

The Sudanese militia, notorious for its role in the Darfur conflict, has also carried out extensive raiding in Chad. Its other role, as a buyer and smuggler of ivory poached by other groups, is said by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to involve trading weapons and ammunition for ivory with groups like the LRA, which enables them to survive as a military force.

The plethora of armed groups in Darfur, especially the pro-government militias, are blamed as well for regular and destructive raids into CAR’s Dzanga Sangha reserve and Chad’s Zakouma national park, where an estimated 3,000 elephants have been killed in three years. Large groups of heavily armed poachers on horseback from Darfur are blamed by the Chadian authorities for the poaching.

The Chadian government has now committed heavily armed military units to protect the park, less from a commitment to protect wildlife than to prevent ivory being used to fund Chadian rebels groups.

CITES and UNEP studies suggest that the elephant is extinct in Sudan, with the only populations to be found in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s elephants in crisis

The conflict in South Sudan is having a serious effect on the elephant populations there. In July 2013, the South Sudanese government and the World Conservation Society (WCS) launched a programme to protect the country’s remaining herds.  They had declined over the years of the second Sudanese civil war from in excess of 80,000 in the 1960s-70s to an estimated 5,000 in 2013. These last remaining elephants were under threat from poachers, many linked with South Sudanese armed groups, and the LRA. The WCS said at the launch of the programme that the future of the elephants was particularly endangered by the presence of rebel militias fighting the SPLA.

The Boma national park in Jonglei state has one of the most important savannah ecosystems in the region. Fighting in mid-2013 between government forces and the Murle rebel group led by David Yau Yau led to the destruction of park infrastructure, the killing of three wildlife rangers and the almost total disruption of conservation and wildlife protection programmes in the park and surrounding areas.

A report by Born Free USA and the US Centre for Defence Analysis suggested that the killing of park officials was carried out by the South Sudan armed forces (SPLA) sent to drive out Yau Yau’s fighters. The officials killed, including park warden Brigadier Kolo Pino, were all from the Murle community.

Earlier this year, in Lantoto National Park, in Central Equatoria state on the border with the DRC, at least six elephants were killed for their tusks. The park’s warden, Colonel Joseph Taban, reported that continuous poaching was being carried out by groups armed with machine guns. There was no clear evidence which groups – whether rebels or criminal gangs – were involved. Taban said the weapons being used were very different from the bows and arrows used by local people to poach for meat.

The park borders the Garamba National Park in DR Congo, where the LRA, the Ugandan army and the Janjaweed have all been suspected of engaging in poaching. Born Free USA has said that SPLA forces and former members of the army have also been heavily involved in poaching in Garamba.

The conflict between President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to Riek Machar, which began in December last year, has had devastating humanitarian consequences, with over 10,000 dead and nearly two million displaced. It is also having a serious environmental effect, and reducing the economic options, beyond oil, open to the country.  The possibilities of wildlife tourism are declining rapidly.

An advisor to the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Lt-Gen Alfred Akuch Omoli, said recently that, “Since the start of this conflict we have noticed that poaching has become terrible. Rebels are poaching and the government forces are also poaching because they are all fighting in rural areas and the only available food they can get is wild meat”. Officials have also noted an increase in elephant poaching for their tusks, but avoided saying whether this was by rebel groups, local people or government forces.

The WCS’s deputy director for South Sudan said in June that a number of the elephants given radio collars under the protection programme launched in 2013 had been killed. The WCS warned in December 2012, a year before the start of the civil war that without a decline in poaching South Sudan’s elephants could disappear within five years.  The security, humanitarian and economic effects of the civil war could hasten their demise.

Keith Somerville is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, teaches journalism at the Centre for Journalism, University of Kent and edits Africa News and Analysis (

AU calls for synchronised security talks on Sudanese conflicts

Sudan Tribune

September 15, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AUPSC) has finally opted for separate, but synchronised discussions on security measures between the warring Sudanese parties before they can engage in the internal dialogue process.

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A general view of a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (Photo courtesy of the African Union)

The Sudanese government and Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) agreed on the need for a comprehensive and inclusive process to reach peace and restore democracy in the country.

The government and rebel groups, however, diverged on how to proceed and where this political process was to be conducted.

While the government says the rebels should come and directly discuss ceasefire and security arrangements before joining the negotiating table with other stakeholders, the latter has demanded a humanitarian cessation of hostilities followed by separate negotiations abroad on the security arrangements and matters related to the war areas after which discussions on the new constitution can begin.

The AUPSC, in a resolution released on 15 September, following its 456 meeting acknowledged that the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and its chairman Thabo Mbeki will play the midwifery role of the national dialogue by brokering the security talks as well as an all parties conference in Addis Ababa to agree on a framework agreement for the political process.

“The negotiations on cessation of hostilities, immediately leading to a comprehensive security arrangements agreement, should resume at the earliest opportunity, under the auspices of the AUHIP and in collaboration and coordination with the JSR/JCM ‘Mohamed Ibn Chambas),” partly reads the AUPSC resolution.

“The negotiations on the cessation of hostilities for the Two Areas and for Darfur should be conducted in a synchronized manner,” it further added.

A rebel group, Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) warned last week that they would not accept a humanitarian cessation of hostilities, but requested that security measures be implemented to protect civilians in the war affected zones.

The Council, however, took in consideration a demand by the rebel and opposition parties on the need for a preparatory meeting to fix the rules of the national dialogue and agree on how to implement its outcome.

“A meeting of the Sudanese parties to discuss relevant process issues, in order to pave the way for the National Dialogue should be held at the AU Headquarters under the facilitation of the AUHIP,” decided the AUPSC.

The regional peace and security body emphasised the need to establish a conducive environment for the national dialogue and urged the Khartoum government to implement confidence-building measures.

Among these measures, the 15-member council mentions the release of all political detainees and prisoners, enacting the necessary legislations to ensure political freedoms and the freedom of expression and publication, and ensuring that the judiciary will be the only institution to adjudicate such matters.

But before any engagement in the internal process and in line with the AUPSC decision, the government has been requested to provide the “necessary guarantees for the armed groups freely to participate in the national dialogue, once the comprehensive ceasefire and security arrangements agreements have been concluded”.

Khartoum also has to facilitate humanitarian assistance to all populations in war-affected areas.


The African body called on the international community to provide “economic support package to Sudan, including expediting debt relief and extending concessionary loans”.

It also appealed to the United States and the European Union to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan “ in order to contribute positively towards the creation of enabling conditions for the success of the national dialogue”.

Some EU countries consider the lift of economic sanctions imposed on Sudan and debt relief as they follow closely the ongoing efforts to hold the political process and to ensure effective implementation of its outcome.

On 9 August, the American acting chargé d’affaires David Kaeupur met with Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour to hand over a message from US special envoy Donald Booth on the national dialogue.

Booth, in his message, expressed his government’s support to the internal process and encouraged Khartoum to create the necessary conditions for a genuine, holistic and inclusive dialogue.


Uganda – seizure of Al Shabab explosives


Uganda police seize ‘explosives from al-Shabab cell’

Ugandan police stand guard outside a popular shopping mall in the capital Kampala - 14 September 2014Ugandan authorities urged the public to remain vigilant amid fears that there could be more terrorist cells

Police in Uganda say they have seized large amounts of explosives during raids on suspected al-Shabab militants.

Authorities said the terrorist cell was planning to carry out imminent attacks in the capital Kampala.

Nineteen people have been arrested and are being interrogated about their intentions, a police spokesman said.

Uganda has been on high alert since al-Shabab’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a US air strike in Somalia earlier this month.

Last week, the US embassy in Kampala warned of possible revenge attacks against US targets in response to the air strike on 2 September.

On Sunday, the US lifted its warnings after saying it believed the “immediate threat of an al-Shabab attack has been effectively countered”.

More terrorist cells?

But Ugandan Information Minister Rose Namayanja urged the public to “remain vigilant” as authorities continue investigating the planned attack.

“The operation is still going on,” Ms Namayanja said. “We just want to ensure that we exhaust all the leads so that there are no more terrorist cells.”

Police said the suspected al-Shabab cell had been planning to carry out attacks in Kampala and other towns over the weekend.

A Ugandan contingent of the African Union force on patrol in Somalia - 27 February 2012Uganda has been targeted by al-Shabab militants because its troops are part of the AU force in Somalia

“We are interrogating 19 to see what leads we get to help expand the investigation,” police spokesman Fred Enanga told reporters.

He said the suspects had been found with “explosive materials related to acts of terror” and their intentions “were very, very clear.”

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga says the suspects are believed to be foreigners.

Ugandan troops are part of the African Union force in Somalia, known as Amisom, that is fighting al-Shabab militants.

The government in Kampala said it had provided the US with key intelligence regarding Godane’s movements ahead of the US strike.

Al-Shabab has vowed to retaliate for the death of its leader.

The Islamist group, which wants to overthrow the UN-backed government in Somalia, has since named Ahmad Umar as its new leader.

Its fighters were behind twin blasts that killed 76 football fans who were watching the World Cup final in Kampala in July 2010.

At the time, Godane said the attack was retribution for Uganda’s deployment of troops as part of the AU force in Somalia.

South Sudanese general warns of fragmentation

Sudan Tribune

September 14, 2014 (JUBA) – A senior South Sudanese opposition politician has hinted on possibilities of the young nation disintegrating along ethnic lines, should its current leadership ignore the strength and capabilities of those opposed to the Juba establishment.

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General Dau Aturjong (ST)

Gen. Dau Aturjong told Sudan Tribune he was optimistic some parts of South Sudan could rejoin neigbouring Sudan, from which it seceded in 2011 or become part of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We urge our people to see the differences between Dr. Riek Machar, who has accepted to take the challenge to champion the cause of the movement and the propaganda of the government,” Gen. Aturjong said Sunday.

“They have to make clear distinction and join the movement earnestly so that we all rescue the country from disintegrating into ethnic enclaves, South Sudanese rebel commander”, he added.

David de Chan, a renowned South Sudanese academic recently criticised the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) protocol of agreed principles, instead recommending the breaking up of the country into smaller administrative units.

“I highly recommend that South Sudan should be disintegrated because it has already been disintegrated compared to the island nation state of Cyprus that has divided itself into two (2) vs. the Greco-Cypriots on the west side of the tiny island of Cyprus and the Turkish-Cypriots on the eastside of the island nation of Cyprus and the case of the former Yugoslavia federation that disintegrated into seven (7) nation states in the Balkans,” de Chan wrote on 29 August.

“The greater Upper Nile region would not return to Juba, but it would govern itself as an autonomous region like Kurdistan-Iraq in northern Iraq and would eventually seek political divorce from South Sudan,” he stressed.


But Gen. Aturjong, a former South Sudan army division commander who joined the opposition in May, warned of growing sentiments in the country should the current conflict drag on for another year.

“I do not deny such possibilities and this is why the movement [SPLM in Opposition] appeals for mass defection of our officers in this ailing government to live up to the cause of liberation struggle. Our people did not sacrifice their lives in order for them to come and install the regime with similar tendencies to perpetuate the suffering”, he said.

According to the senior rebel commander, there is already a feeling in other parts of the country, apart from Upper Nile state, allegedly to break away from the country, if president Salva Kiir does not willingly accept democratic reforms and inclusivity in national affairs.

“There are voices calling for annexing the Upper Nile and Unity States to Sudan and parts of Equatoria States to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Democratic of Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Such voices are serious and they are actually inspired by the Russia-Ukraine case of Crimea,” Gen. Aturjong explained.

“And I think some countries with interests in the region can quickly support local initiative, like it happened in the case of Russia and Ukraine over Crimea”, he further stressed.

Meanwhile Peter Adwok Nyaba, a former South Sudanese education minister, now with the rebels, advocated for an increase in the level of struggle to cover other parts of the countries, saying it was the only way to bring change in the country.

He claimed president Kiir was “insensitive” to calls for peace in the young nation.
“SPLM in opposition does not belong to Riek Machar and those who refused to join because of him are mistaken. The resistance to Salva’s regime is acquiring a national and democratic character,” Nyaba told Sudan Tribune.

“The contradiction now is between democrats’ revolutionary and liberal, social or Marxists and the dictatorial regime and other position or stand is fact support for the president,” he added.

President Kiir’s loyalists, however, say those opposed to the present leadership only became critics after they were removed during last year’s cabinet reshuffle, which also affected former vice-president Riek Machar.


South Sudan – government puts travel ban on opposition leader Lam Akol

South Sudan

September 13, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan government on Saturday blocked the leader of opposition parties taking part in its ongoing talks with rebels in Ethiopia, despite an invitation extended to the latter by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

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Lam Akol who heads the opposition SPLM-DC party (splm-dc)

Lam Akol said he was turned away at Juba international airport by security operatives allegedly acting on South Sudan government instructions.

“I have been blocked. They told me that they have instructions that I should not travel to attend the talks,” Akol exclusively told Sudan Tribune.

The opposition leader insisted he was still head of the political parties’ leadership.

“I have not been removed. What happened was that some of the political parties in the government called the meeting engineered by the government because government wants to use them as proxy delegation at the talks,” said Akol.

“It was not the political parties meeting,” added the opposition parties’ head.

Akol further claimed government’s decision to block him clearly shows it was opposed to independent views to resolve the conflict.

“The message is clear. The government does not want independent views,”he said.

The political parties, at a meeting chaired by president Salva Kiir Friday, resolved that Akol be removed from the delegation to the talks and named Martin Tako Moyi as his successor.


Several observers and members of the public reacted differently to this new development, with government supporters welcoming the decision, which they described as the right decision at the right time.

“The decision of the political parties to remove Lam Akol is right decision because he was causing confusion within the leadership of the political parties. Actually he was representing the views of the political parties. The political parties did not go to demand positions in the government at the talks but they were simply going to help the way this conflict can resolved,” said James Makuek, a member of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM).

Makuek claimed Akol used the peace talks as an opportunity to settle political scores with the government in the name of other political parties instead of prioritising settlement of the conflict.

But Deng Bol, a native of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in Juba, said he was not surprised of the behaviours of some of the political parties because they were already within government.

“You honestly do not need to ask the motives behind all these confusion. The motives are obvious. What happened as you may have followed political events was a clear fight for allegiance between those in the government, who do not want the government to cut their cake and those who were advocating real reforms so that they can get a political space to propagate their activities in the new political environment when peace talks are concluded with the signing of the agreement,” said Bol.

He claimed those who were in government, but were removed in last year’s cabinet reshuffle; find it hard to live a common man’s life.

“This group wants to return the government by all means. They are working hard to grab the attention of the government by supporting whatever the government says. So Lam Akol cannot survive in this environment especially that he seems to advance independent views,” added Bol.

Anthony Sebit, a Juba based political commentator, equally described the development as a competition between political interest and those advocating for “creation of political space”.

“Let me put it bluntly that these developments are activities of people wanting to retain their current positions in the government at any cost. You see clearly that people who were appointed as members of Parliament by the president, without having contested any parliamentary seats anywhere in this country as well as the case those who are currently holding cabinet positions in the government,” said Sebit.

“Do you expect such people to shoot themselves by supporting views which are against the very government which settles their monthly bills? No. It would be a political suicide if they do so,” he added.


Uganda – government says it foiled possible Al Shabab plan to attack US embassy

The authorities in Uganda have uncovered a terrorist cell which they believe was planning an imminent attack, the US embassy in Kampala says.

It said the cell belonged to Somali Islamist group al-Shabab, but this has yet to be confirmed by Ugandan police.

The embassy earlier warned US citizens in the capital to stay at home during a police operation to uncover the cell.

Ugandan police say they have increased security in public places across Kampala, and made several arrests.

Earlier this week, the US embassy warned of possible revenge attacks against US targets by al-Shabab in response to the US air strike that killed the group’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane on 2 September.

‘Stay at home
“We’re increasing patrols in the city, major towns and other vulnerable places,” police spokesman Fred Enanga told reporters on Saturday.

In addition to making several arrests, the police said they had seized explosive materials.

The suspects are believed to be foreigners, says the BBC ‘s Catherine Byaruhanga.

The US embassy urged US citizens “to stay at home or proceed to a safe location” while the Ugandan authorities were conducting operations against a suspected al-Shabab terrorist cell in Kampala, in a message on its website.

It said it was not aware of specific targets but that security had been increased at key sites, including Entebbe international airport.

Al-Shabab has vowed to retaliate for the killing of Godane.

The Islamist group, which wants to overthrow the UN-backed government in Somalia, has since named Ahmad Umar as the new leader.

The group was behind twin blasts targeting a rugby ground and Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala that killed 76 football fans watching the World Cup final in July 2010.

At the time, the then-leader Ahmed Abdi Godane said the attack was retribution for Uganda’s deployment of troops as part of the African Union joint force to help Somalia combat al-Shabab militants.

Soldiers and police were out in force in a similar alert in July following a threat to Uganda’s main airport