South Sudan – rival SPLM groups sign framework agreement

Sudan Tribune

October 20, 2014 (ARUSHA) – Factions of the ruling party in South Sudan, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), have signed a framework agreement which aims to address the root causes of the conflict that erupted in mid-December and plunged the country into violent crisis.

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SPLM factions sign framework agreement, Arusha, October 20, 2014. Peter Adwok (right), Daniel Awet (center), CCM SG, Abdulraman Kinana, and Pagan Amum (left). Behind are the principal leaders (Photo ST)

The document was signed on Monday in the Tanzanian northern town of Arusha and witnessed by the two principal rival leaders, namely president Salva Kiir, who chairs the SPLM in government and Riek Machar, former vice president and leader of the SPLM-in-Opposition.

SPLM of former detainees also participated in the talks and inked the document as well.

President Jakaya Kikwete chairs the Tanzanian ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which facilitated the intra-SPLM dialogue.

Delegates of the three rival groups of the South Sudanese ruling party met in Arusha from 12th to 18th of this month to try to come up with the framework in the process hosted by the Tanzanian ruling party.

The framework agreement highlighted preamble, principles, objectives and agenda that will be discussed in the intra-party dialogue. It also included rules of engagement and role of CCM.

However, it said the process is distinct from the peace talks which takes place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The parties recognize that the Arusha process is essentially an intra-SPLM dialogue and is separate and distinct from the IGAD mediated peace talks among South Sudanese stakeholders. Yet the parties are fully aware that the two processes, although separate, are mutually interdependent and reinforcing,” partly reads a communiqué.

The document recommits the parties to the principles of democracy, internal democracy especially on matters of decision making, elections, succession and peaceful transfer of power.

It further calls for “unity of SPLM as a safeguard against fragmentation of the country along ethnic and regional fault lines.”

“Initiate measures to stop the war, lead the government and the people of South Sudan towards peace, stability and prosperity,” it further urges.

Both leaders expressed their commitment to the intra-party dialogue that would reunite the divided historical party.

The document was signed by senior officials of the rival factions, namely Daniel Awet Akot, Peter Adwok Nyaba and Pagan Amum Okech, representing SPLM in government, SPLM-in-Opposition and SPLM former detainees, respectively.

When contacted for some clarity on the meaning of the document inked by the three SPLM rival parties, Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak, said the agreement served as a roadmap for further negotiations in trying to reunite the ruling party and end the war.

“It is a roadmap agreement with guiding principles and objectives for further discussions and possible resolutions,” Dak told Sudan Tribune when contacted on Monday.

“The governance crisis within the SPLM gave birth to the 15 December violence which has unfortunately plunged the country into the current national crisis or civil war. The intra-party dialogue provides a supplement to the peace talks in Addis Ababa to try and address the root causes of this conflict within the ruling party,” he added.

Also, Dak added that the framework agreement has recognized the need to “revitalize, reorganize, strengthen and restore the SPLM to its vision, principles, political direction and core values.”

Analysts, however, say the dialogue, could provide an avenue for progress on key issues, including deep divisions between South Sudanese party leaders, if respected.

“Progress on party politics in Arusha is likely good news for the peace process. The fear is that it might come at a high price for civil society and other stakeholders that have been struggling for months for meaningful engagement at the IGAD-led peace talks,” said Justine Fleischner, a Sudan and South Sudan policy consultant at Enough Project.

Akshaya Kumar, a Sudan and South Sudan policy analyst at Enough Project said the new Arusha forum on party politics must tackle issues beyond elite power sharing so as to fulfill its promise of being mutually reinforcing of the peace talks in Addis Ababa.

“South Sudan’s ruling SPLM is facing much more than a leadership schism; after 10 months of internecine war, its very legitimacy is at stake,” said Kumar.

(ST)

West Africa – vital ebola aid arrives

BBC

BBC News – Ebola crisis: Worst-hit African nations get key supplies

//

Sierra Leone's Red Cross employees are disinfected near Freetown. Photo: 20 October 2014Red Cross workers are among those fighting the outbreak in Sierra Leone

Vital supplies and resources to tackle Ebola are beginning to arrive in the three worst-hit West African countries, Ghana’s President John Mahama has said.

Mr Mahama, who heads the regional bloc Ecowas, also told the BBC that treatment centres were being set up in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

But he called for proper co-ordination between agencies to avoid duplication.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people, almost all of them in those three countries.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died.

Meanwhile, Nigeria was declared free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

Last week, Senegal was declared virus-free.

In other developments:

  • The United Nations said one of its workers in Sierra Leone had died from the disease, becoming the third UN victim
  • US health officials said 43 people closely monitored after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear after 21 days
  • Stricter guidelines have been issued for protecting US healthcare workers
  • The Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had now tested negative for the virus
  • Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s son, physician James Adama Sirleaf, has decided to stay in the US, saying he could do more for his country there than at home, the Wall Street Journal reports.

‘Closing gaps’Mr Mahama told the BBC that the World Food Programme was airlifting humanitarian aid to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“It must be a balance of things, closing all the gaps that exist and make sure that optimally the resources are going towards containing the disease,” the Ghanaian president added.

Mr Mahama said he had convened an Ecowas summit in November to co-ordinate the international response.

He said other West African nations needed to learn lessons from Nigeria.

‘Good idea’Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to Ebola.

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanise the EU’s response to the epidemic.

“My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea,” he said.

“The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it’s a very important step.”

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing for that amount to be doubled.

The money is being sought to help reinforce overstretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

line

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Ebola basics

How Ebola attacks

What virus has hit – in maps

Uncertainty over figures

line

‘No goggles’Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced stringent new guidelines for healthcare personnel who may be dealing with Ebola patients.

It said employees must be repeatedly trained in the use of protective equipment, demonstrating competency in putting on and taking off such clothing.

No skin should be exposed, the CDC said, and the gear should include gloves, a waterproof gown or coveralls, a respirator, a face shield and a disposable hood.

“Goggles are no longer recommended as they may not provide complete skin coverage in comparison to a single use disposable full face shield,” it said.

It added that a trained observer must be present to watch every step of the process of putting on and taking off the protective equipment.

How Ebola spreads
line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

How Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives

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

BBC

Nigeria – fate of Chibok girls uncertain

DW/allAfrica

Fresh violence in northern Nigeria has dashed hopes of a ceasefire with the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram. Nigerians are doubtful whether the Chibok girls, kidnapped six months ago, will be released.

“Hope Rising” reads the slogan on the T-shirt of a Chibok girls’ activist. Every weekend a group of protestors gather in Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos to call for the release of the kidnapped girls. On Friday (17.10.2014), Nigeria’s armed forces chief, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, announced a ceasefire with Boko Haram, which purportedly included the release of 219 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok.

But Boko Haram hasn’t confirmed the truce and the protestors find it difficult to believe that the girls’ release is imminent.

“The Nigerian government has not been too credible in the past,” said Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, activist and founder of the Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations. “We hope they are saying something that is correct and that will happen. We are crossing our fingers, but until we see the girls we will not believe anything,” she added.

Fresh wave of violence

Events on Sunday (19.10.2014) displayed all too clearly why such skepticism is justified. Boko Haram captured another town in the state of Borno killing numerous villagers. Local media reported the Nigerian armed forces were engaged in combat operations over the weekend, even though the chief of staff had ordered his troops to abide by a ceasefire.

“The Nigerian government continued to contradict itself,” said political scientist Abubakar Umar Kari.”Today it will talk about dialogue, tomorrow it will say it will destroy the sect, or that the sect does not exists at all,” he told DW. After the girls were seized six months ago, government spokesmen could be heard denying that the kidnappings had taken place. Later they claimed that the army had liberated the girls. Denials had to be issued on both counts.

Boko Haram fragmented

According to the Nigerian daily “The Punch,” Boko Haram has split into two wings – one is radical and uncompromising wing and and the other is prepared to negotiate. According to the paper, the deal was only struck with the group that was willing to talk. This would suggest that a genuine ceasefire deal is still a long way off. Boko Haram has been regarded an extremely fragmented militia for some time. The Nigerian military has announced several times that Abubakar Shekau was dead, yet he keeps on popping up in videos.

Trying to be optimistic

One of President Jonathan’s close advisors, Hassan Tukur, told DW that no conditions were attached to the ceasefire! Boko Haram had released 27 hostages in Cameroon last week as promised, he said. After previous talks with Boko Haram had ended in deadlock, the militia was therefore showing a measure of good will, he addded. He hoped that an end to the crisis was not far away.

In spite of their suspicion of the Nigerian government, the protestors are also trying to keep their hopes up. Mindia Chiwar, a Chibok lawyer who represents parents of the missing girls and also takes part in the Lagos protests, said confidence was starting to return among friends and family members.”They have been having hopes since day one and these hopes are still alive. We remain faithful,” he said.  allAfrica

South Africa – ANC set to call for NUMSA to be kicked out of COSATU

Mail and Guardian

ANC leaders appear set on advising Cosatu to boot the union from the federation, but Numsa is determined to fight any suspension.
Sources have predicted that the ANC will recommend that Numsa be suspended for violating Cosatu’s constitution.(Gallo)

 

Metalworkers’ union Numsa has put on a brave face ahead of what Cosatu insiders call its “inevitable” suspension on Tuesday.

Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) is expected to gather on Tuesday to hear a report from the ANC on its diagnosis of what led to the deep split in the federation and what remedies it recommends.

Multiple sources close to the intervention have predicted that the ANC will recommend that Numsa be suspended for violating Cosatu’s constitution. But two Numsa insiders appear confident of the union’s fightback strategy.

Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese said the union would attend the meeting as a Cosatu affiliate in good standing. He would not comment on whether it would abide by a decision of the meeting. “We can’t pre-empt the discussion of the CEC right now,” he said.

But a source close to Numsa said the union would consider court action if they were to be suspended from the organisation.  “We will take them on like we did when they suspended [Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima] Vavi – and we will win,” he said.

The long road to deliberation
The ANC task team – led by party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – was called in to mediate after tensions grew and split began to appear likely after unions led by Numsa rally in support of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who was suspended in August last year for allegedly bringing the organisation into disrepute, and then later reinstated after a high court ruled his suspension was unlawful.

The ANC initially had 30 days to report back to the CEC, but the process was delayed by six months. At first the delay was a result of the tardiness of the consultation process, but soon turned into politics.

Last week, Cosatu’s top leaders appeared to have pre-empted any dispute regarding the constitutionality of the meeting with regard to its notice period. One insider explained how it had emerged that Numsa planned to cite the constitution and declare the meeting invalid should any decisions be taken against them.

“So we saw what they were going to do,” the source said. “They were going to sit through the meeting and then when we voted to suspend them, they would take us to court. They would have gone to court and said the notice for the meeting was only six days when Cosatu’s constitution says the notice period must be seven.”

The dangers of suspension
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said he did not believe Cosatu’s suspension of Numsa would be immediate. “If we look back, every utterance of Numsa warranted a suspension … but it has not happened so far,” he said.

He said nobody would want to bear the responsibility of pushing Numsa out of Cosatu and, in effect, the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

“I don’t think this meeting will change things drastically. Even if they want to suspend Numsa … it will still be a while,” Mathekga said.

Analyst Steven Friedman expressed similar sentiments, adding that he did not believe Numsa would accept its suspension. “There may well be a court challenge and they might be successful,” he said.

Friedman agreed that whatever Cosatu decides in the three-day meeting will affect the future of the federation.

“If Numsa is forced to leave Cosatu, it won’t be an independent union, it will start a federation will get support from sections of unions,” he said. “And then you will have two federations competing for the same workers.”

South Sudan – SPLM rebels say they won’t re-unify while Kiir runs the party

Sudan Tribune

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

October 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s rebel faction, the SPLM in Opposition, led by former vice-president Riek Machar, said on Sunday it would not reunify with the ruling SPLM party unless president Salva Kiir steps down.

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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (AFP)

Delegations from the rival SPLM factions met in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha where they held discussion from 12 to 18 October on holding intra-party dialogue aimed at reconciling the two groups.

However, rebel officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, ruled out possible reunification unless Kiir agrees to hand over the leadership of the party to Machar.

The officials said they remained pessimistic about the Tanzanian talks, saying they doubted the process would deliver any positive outcomes even if discussions centred on the same agenda.

They went on to say that the rebel delegation had agreed to take part in intra-party dialogue only to tell their side of story.

Their comments appear to contradict those of CCM secretary-general Abdulrahman Kinana, who said that the initial phase of dialogue was held in a frank, honest and cordial manner and that progress has been made on the establishment of a framework for the intra-SPLM dialogue, including shared principles, objectives and an agenda for ongoing talks.

The dialogue is being facilitated by Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, (CCM), which means revolutionary party in Swahili, the official language of Tanzania.

Following the conclusion of the initial phase of dialogue, Tanzanian president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete invited both Kiir and Machar to the official launching of the process, due to take place on Monday in Arusha.

According to a source at the talks, both rival parties had recognised the need for reconciliation and the reunification of the SPLM as the vehicle that will implement a comprehensive program of political reforms.

In an encouraging sign, he said participants at the talks had shown a willingness to be identified as one entity, rather then separate groups.

The ruling party in South Sudan split in mid-December last year following an internal political dispute, plunging the young nation into a deadly cycle of conflict that has increasingly divided communities along tribal lines.

The outcome of the latest talks remains unclear, with similar attempts by other ruling parties in South Africa and Ethiopia failing to bridge the gap between the warring SPLM factions.

Ongoing peace talks, which are being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have also failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.

(ST)

South Africa – Holden and Feinstein refuse to testify in arms hearings

Mail and Guardian

Two London-based critics won’t testify at the Seriti commission of inquiry, despite the commission saying that it will reissue their subpoenas.

Paul Holden (pictured) and Andrew Feinstein say they will not be testifying at the arms deal commission. (Lisa Skinner, M&G)

Arms deal critics Paul Holden and Andrew Feinstein will not testify at the arms deal commission, despite the commission’s previous announcement that it would reissue their subpoenas.

It emerged on Monday that Holden’s subpoena never arrived, while Feinstein, through his lawyer, Advocate Geoff Budlender SC, told the commission that it did not have international jurisdiction. Both live in London.

In any event, Budlender said, the two witnesses agreed with their colleague Hennie Van Vuuren’s statement to the commission on Monday. Van Vuuren was also subpoenaed again by the commission after he, Holden and Feinstein refused to participate any longer.

Van Vuuren, Feinstein and Holden were scheduled to give evidence at the commission this week. They are represented by Lawyers for Human Rights. The three withdrew their participation from the commission in September. On Monday, Van Vuuren told the commission that in terms of the commissions’ act, a witness before a commission could refuse to participate if they showed “sufficient cause”.

Budlender submitted that Van Vuuren had sufficient cause for four reasons. Van Vuuren said the commission continued to withhold documents that he and his colleagues needed to prepare for their cross-examination, despite an 18-month-long effort to settle the issue.

He also said the commission refused to allow key documents into evidence. He referred to the Debevois & Plimpton report, commissioned by arms dealer Ferrostaal, which produced evidence of malfeasance.

Earlier this year, Holden tried to use the report while conducting a cross-examination but Judge Willie Seriti would not allow it because the report was “leaked”.

Then in September, Ferrostaal, the first arms company to submit anything on the record, submitted that the report could not be made public because it was subject to attorney-client privilege. Seriti agreed with Ferrostaal, that the privilege had not been waived, although he said the commission would use the report to follow up any leads which it might produce.

The commission also will not let witnesses speak to documents that they themselves had not written, Van Vuuren said on Monday. Seriti denied this, saying that former Inkatha Freedom Party MP, Gavin Woods, had been allowed to do so. Van Vuuren added that the commission had lost the public’s trust.

On Monday, after hearing submissions on the matter from all legal representatives present, Seriti offered Van Vuuren one last chance to change his mind. Van Vuuren declined. Seriti did not say whether he would hold Van Vuuren in contempt – a criminal offence. But he said the law would now have to take its course. Lawyers for the other parties were scathing of Van Vuuren’s decision.

‘Running away’ from evidence
Advocate Jennifer Cane SC for the Department of Defence said she wanted to cross-examine Van Vuuren and Holden on details revealed in their book, The Devil in the Detail, published in 2011. But Budlender said every reference in the book had a footnote indicating the source of the allegation. The commission could simply find the source documentation itself, he submitted. Advocate Marumo Moerane SC, representing several former government ministers, accused Van Vuuren of “running away” from giving evidence for “flimsy reasons”.

He stopped short of calling Van Vuuren unpatriotic. Even former president Thabo Mbeki had given evidence at the commission, Moerane said. Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC, for Fana Hlongwane, said Van Vuuren’s reasons indicated a poor understanding of the law. This was because of the attorney-client privilege issue that prevented the commission from allowing the Debevois & Plimpton report being publicly put on the record. Cilliers said the commission’s ruling was correct.

But Budlender cited case law which stated that in the event that a document was stolen or lost, privilege would be waived. In this case, the report was leaked, so privilege no longer applied, he said. The report has been in the public domain for three years. The commission resumes on November 3.


Nigeria declared free of ebola

BBC

Ebola crisis: Nigeria declared free of virus

Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, said it was a “spectacular success story”.

Nigeria won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died in those countries.

The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to the threat posed by Ebola.

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanise the EU’s response to the epidemic.

“My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea. The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it’s a very important step.”

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing to double that amount.

The money is being sought to help reinforce over-stretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

Earlier, the Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had tested negative for the virus.

line

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months
line

The result suggests Teresa Romero, 44, is no longer infected although a second test is required before she can be declared free of Ebola.

Ms Romero contracted the virus when treating two infected patients in a Madrid hospital.

Javier Limon, Teresa Romero’s husband: “I am very happy”

In another development, US health officials said 43 people being closely monitored after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear.

They were subject to twice-daily monitoring during the 21-day incubation period.

However, others who cared for Mr Duncan remain at risk including two nurses he infected and their close contacts. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said 120 people were still being monitored, with their waiting period due to end on 7 November.

Nigeria praised

The WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases. The last reported case in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – was discovered on 5 September.

“The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated,” WHO Nigerian representative Rui Gama Vaz said on Monday.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”

The outbreak there began when Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian citizen, was diagnosed with the illness in July.

How Ebola spreads

Nigeria declared a national public health emergency and Mr Sawyer later died of the disease, followed by seven Nigerians.

These included Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, who diagnosed Mr Sawyer and is credited with helping to contain the outbreak at its source.

Dr Adadevoh’s son, Bankole Cardoso, told the BBC that because Mr Sawyer had been so quickly diagnosed, Nigeria was able to trace all those who could possibly have contracted the disease from him.

“That was probably the difference between us and our West African neighbours,” he said.

John Vertefeuille, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that Nigeria had taken the right steps to contain the outbreak.

“Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale,” he told AFP news agency.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who chairs the African Union Commission, told the BBC that countries affected by Ebola would have to deal with the consequences for years to come.

“A lot of things are almost at a standstill. They are not going to be producing as much food as they would have produced, they are diverting some of the money for education to other things to stamp out the epidemic,” she said.

line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

How Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives

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

BBC