Tag Archives: Jonglei

South Sudan – Jonglei “always at war”

International Crisis Group

South Sudan: Jonglei – “We Have Always Been at War”

Africa Report N°22122 Dec 2014

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jonglei state’s combustible mix of armed political opposition, violent ethnic militias and dysfunctional political system were part of the tinder that led to the eruption of the civil war in South Sudan in late December 2013. Despite eleven months of peace talks, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the war threatens to reintensify in the coming weeks. The negotiations do not reflect the diversity of armed groups and interests in South Sudan and the region, most of which are nominally allied with either President Salva Kiir’s government or former Vice President Riek Machar’s Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). The constellation of regional and South Sudanese armed groups in Jonglei is emblematic of the regional, national and local challenges to peace and the pattern of a war that cannot be resolved by engaging only two of the nearly two-dozen armed groups in the country and ignoring those that have not yet engaged in the fight.

These armed groups’ casus belli are often different from those of Kiir and Machar, and many do not support the peace process, creating a chaotic environment on the ground. Most of these groups are not fighting for control of the government in Juba and some of their conflicts are best resolved at the state or local level. Yet if they are ignored the main protagonists will use these groups to continue the fight and derail national peace efforts.

This round of fighting in Jonglei represents more continuity than change with past decades, and its deep roots are similar to those across the country. Much of the state is now under the control of the SPLM/A-IO and the Murle South Sudan Democratic Army-Cobra Faction (SSDA-CF), which has made a peace deal with the government but the majority of whose fighters are not integrated into the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), while the SPLA and the Ugandan army, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), secure the government’s control over the rest.

No one’s territory is stable, civilians are displaced and starving and a return to fighting is all but guaranteed. The trajectory of the war in Jonglei demonstrates the dangers of limiting IGAD’s peace process to only the government and SPLM/A-IO. The uneasy status quo in Jonglei is unlikely to last; the peace deal between the government and SSDA-CF is in danger while the local peace deal between the Murle and the opposition-affiliated Lou Nuer grows stronger. Jonglei illustrates the nationwide trend of fragmentation of armed groups, alliance formation at the local level and the potential for the war to get much worse during the upcoming fighting season.

Crisis Group’s prior recommendations about the need for more inclusive talks focused on 1) Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) reform (now supported by Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party); 2) a reactivated Political Parties Forum; 3) engaging with armed groups beyond the SPLA and SPLA-IO; and 4) more attention to intercommunal all remain relevant to ending the war. By looking at the war in Jonglei, this report explains the importance of the third and fourth recommendations. IGAD’s emphasis on brokering a deal between Kiir and Machar neglects the diversity of armed interests and may lead to a peace deal that enjoys little support on the ground. While the government has the upper hand militarily, increasing repression in Juba, interminable rebellion in the bush and cities of Greater Upper Nile and continuing regional interference point to a turbulent future.

In addition to the peace talks in Ethiopia, political work is needed on the ground not only to end the war, but to create a sustainable peace. To improve the prospects of an agreement that leads to peace on the ground, IGAD could consider a number of factors:

  • The vast majority of the political work toward a sustainable peace will need to be done inside South Sudan. IGAD could reinforce its political presence there in addition to its monitoring and verification teams.
  • Monitoring and verification teams could become more responsive to ongoing violations and increase monitoring in areas not yet in conflict but that remain at risk.
  • Building upon the political consultations undertaken by the government and SPLM/
    A-IO, encouraging dialogue in strategic areas within and between key communities will better link the talks with the evolving political situation on the ground.
  • Sustainable peace at the local level is distinct from the alliances of convenience that constitute much of the government and SPLM/A-IO coalitions. Unpacking different groups’ motivations will enable a more coherent approach toward which matters should be included in the IGAD talks, which require local-level processes, and how best to link the two so they are mutually reinforcing rather than mutually undermining.
  • The multiplicity of armed groups and their independent nature suggests that far more effort should be dedicated to discussions about transitional security arrangements that go beyond the government and SPL/A-IO.
  • The 2010 elections in South Sudan took place in a restrictive political climate and led to conflict. Elections should be part of a long-term national political process, not an outcome or objective on their own.
  • Outsiders have had little success in mediating south-south conflict over decades and the most transformative southern peace agreements have been led by South Sudanese. Religious and traditional leaders are influential, relatively independent of military leaders and important barometers of communities’ willingness and ability to implement agreements.
  • Abuses against civilians in South Sudan lead to rebellion and communal obligations to revenge. IGAD could carefully consider how transitional justice and accountability can reinforce the peace process and encourage the parties to halt abusive practices to prevent further escalation.

Nairobi/Brussels, 22 December 2014 

South Sudan – reports of army clashes with Nuer White army

Reuters
(Reuters) – South Sudan’s army fought on Sunday with “White Army” ethnic militia, accusing rebels of mobilising the force despite its offer of a truce to end the conflict in the new country.

Two weeks of fighting have left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups which could destabilise fragile East Africa.

The feared White Army – made up largely of Nuer youths who dust their bodies with ash – clashed with government troops 18 miles from the town of Bor five days after rebels were driven out, Information Minister Michael Makuei said.

A rebel spokesman denied the White Army was controlled by Riek Machar, a Nuer, the former vice president whose followers oppose President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.

Makuei told Reuters on Sunday the White Army militia had dwindled in numbers – from estimated 25,000 strong – after Nuer politicians and tribal elders persuaded them to abandoned their march on Bor.

“About 5,000 refused to abandon the march and they have proceeded with their advance on Bor. They then dislodged (government troops) from Mathiang, about 18 miles from Bor,” Makuei said by phone from South Sudan’s capital, Juba, 190 km (120 miles) south of Bor by road.

The White Army are recognised by the ash, prepared from burnt cow dung, with which they cover themselves to ward off insects. They are armed with machetes, sticks and guns.

Rebel spokesman Moses Ruai Lat said that rather than being under Machar’s control, the armed Nuer youth were an “independently organised force”.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer said the rebels were mobilising youths and armed civilians for another attack on Malakal, the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile state. Rebels were pushed out of the town on Friday.

Toby Lanzer, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, told Reuters by phone from Malakal that about 25,000 people are seeking refuge in the town’s U.N. base. He said streets were empty and the town’s busy market had been looted.

“There is palpable sense of fear among people who have either lost everything or been caught in the crossfire, or who simply don’t feel safe enough to be home,” Lanzer said, adding that the U.N. estimates at least 180,000 people have been displaced during the 15 days of fighting in South Sudan.

U.N. WORRIED

The United Nations said the involvement of the White Army brought another volatile ingredient.

“South Sudan does not need another escalation of the crisis involving armed youth, pitching communities against communities. This can end in a vicious cycle of violence,” U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary General Hilde Johnson, said in a statement.

Machar made no immediate comment on the rebel force or on the government’s offer of a ceasefire on Friday.

Witnesses spoke of panicked civilians fleeing Bor to escape another round of bloodletting.

The scene of a massacre of Dinka in 1991 by Nuer fighters loyal to Machar, Bor was retaken by government troops last Tuesday after several days of heavy fighting.

If there were a repeat of the tactics of 1991, “nothing will prevent devastation”, Aguer said, appealing to Machar to stop the youths.

A U.N. helicopter spotted a group of armed youths 50 km (30 miles) from Bor but could not confirm their numbers.

The army said rebels also advanced on Sunday to seize Mayom, a strategic town some 90 km (55 miles) from Unity state capital Bentiu, the main rebel stronghold.

Among the civilians trying to escape Bor was Juuk Mading.

“We are very scared,” Mading, a father of four, said from a crowded river jetty as he waited in the fierce heat for a boat to cross the White Nile river to a neighbouring state.

Some 60,000 people are seeking refuge in U.N. bases across South Sudan.

As well as offering a truce, President Kiir’s government said it would release eight of 11 senior politicians, widely seen to be Machar allies, arrested over an alleged coup plot against Kiir

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http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/29/uk-southsudan-unrest-idUKBRE9BR04R20131229

Ethiopia and Kenya try to broker South Sudan peace deal

Sudan Tribune
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 26, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, on Thursday arrived in Juba, South Sudan in an attempt to mediate between the government members of the ruling party and army who have defected.

The two leaders later on Thursday concluded their first round of talks with President Salva Kiir, but the consultations, which are part of regional efforts for solutions to the conflict in South Sudan, are due to continue in the coming days.

Following the first talks, Ethiopian foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom, told reporters that the leaders condemned any attempt to unconstitutionally remove a democratically elected government. Any such actions are unacceptable, he said, adding that political disputes should be resolved through dialogue.

Although President Kiir accuses those he has arrested and those who have rebelled against him as staging coup, this is denied by those who oppose him.

The Ethiopian prime minister is believed to have visited the 11 senior members of the ruling SPLM who have been detained in Juba in connection with the alleged coup attempt.

“IGAD member states and the two leaders (of Ethiopia and Kenya) will do their level best to resolve the crises amicably” he said.

South Sudan’s information minister Michael Makuei Lueth said on Thursday that world leaders have urged for dialogue and immediate stoppage of violence in which thousands are feared killed.

The United States, Norway and Ethiopia are leading efforts to open peace talks between Kiir and his political rivals. Kiir said in a Christmas address that he is willing to engage in “dialogue” with all his opponents.

Leuth said the government has not yet established formal contact with Machar, who has been accused of leading what the government insists, was a failed coup plot. Machar, he said, was expected to first renounce rebellion.

“For us, we are not talking with him,” Lueth said, referring to Machar, whose whereabouts remains unknown.

Government troops are trying to retake control of Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity state, from forces loyal to Machar. Fighting was reported overnight in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, according to Lueth.

Upper Nile and Unity are the country’s key oil-producing states. South Sudan gets nearly 98 percent of its government budget from oil revenues.

Although the capital, Juba, is now calm, fighting appears to be spreading across the country, stretching the limits of humanitarian workers and aid agencies.

The Ethiopian Premier, who also is the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and Chairperson of the East African regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is also expected – during his stay in Juba – to review the implementation of the peace proposal forwarded by IGAD foreign ministers.

“Given its peacekeeping and peacemaking role in the Horn of Africa region and being the current chair of the African Union, Ethiopia is believed to play a key role in bringing together the parties to the conflict in South Sudan,” Ethiopia’s ministry of foreign affairs in a statement today.

The UN says some 1,000 people have died in violence however as conflict continues to escalate in different regions of the country; the death toll is expected to surpass the stated figure.

Over 60,000 people have sheltered at UN bases and more than 92,000 have fled their homes, seeking refuge from the ongoing fighting between the army and forces loyal to sacked vice-president Machar, who remains on the run.

Machar has announced that he is sending his negotiating team to Addis Ababa for peace talks with representatives of Kiir.

AU, IGAD URGE CEASEFIRE

Meanwhile, as East African leaders head to Juba to mediate peace talks, the African Union (AU) and the regional bloc, IGAD, on Thursday renewed a call for an immediate ceasefire in South Sudan as fears rise that the fighting could spark a civil war.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, have reiterated the AU’s and IGAD’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in South Sudan, said a joint statement, which further urged the two warring parties to engage in dialogue.

“The AU and IGAD are profoundly concerned by reports of the mobilization of tribal militias in South Sudan, which threaten to further escalate the conflict and transform it into an exceptionally destructive inter-ethnic violence that would put in danger the very existence of South Sudan.”

The joint statement stressed a need from all South Sudanese stakeholders to fully be aware of these perils and their responsibilities to save their two-year-old state.

Dessalegn and Dlamini-Zuma urged both Kiir and Machar to act with a sense of patriotism and responsibility towards the entire community of South Sudan.

“The AU and IGAD reiterate the urgent imperative of an inclusive dialogue among all concerned stakeholders based on the rejection of the use of force, respect for human rights and dignity, the rule of law and constitutional legality, and their readiness to facilitate such a dialogue” the statement added.

After the talks with Kiir, the Ethiopian prime minister has left for Kenya for further consultation with IGAD members on ways of finding an all inclusive solution to the political crises in South Sudan.

In Nairobi, Ethiopian premier and other IGAD members are expected to consult on how a peace proposal presented by IGAD foreign ministers could be implemented by the two sides, ahead of Kiir and Machar’s representatives meeting in Addis Ababa.

PEACEKEEPING

The United Nations is investigating reports of mass killings. South Sudan’s top UN humanitarian official, Toby Lanzer, said on Monday that he believed the death toll has surpassed 1,000.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to beef up its peacekeeping force in South Sudan on 24 December. It condemned targeted violence against civilians and ethnic communities and called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue.”

South Sudan peacefully broke away from Sudan in 2011 following a 2005 peace deal. Before that, the south fought decades of war with Sudan. The country, one of the world’s least developed, and has suffered from cyclical tribal clashes over cattle and land disputes.

The UN says that an additional $166 million is needed between now and March next year to save lives amid continuing violence.

(ST)
Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn (L), South Sudan’s Salva Kiir (C) and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta meeting in Juba December 25, 2013 (Photo Reuters/James Akena)

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49341

South Sudan – Kiir denounces killing of civilians as massacres of Nuer reported

South Sudan
Kiir denounces killing of civilians on tribal basis say “criminals”
December 25, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit has denounced killing of innocent civilians on tribal basis, warning that he ordered security forces to hold accountable those “criminals”.

The warning statements of president Kiir come after reports by rights groups and activists about the targeting of civilians because of their since violence erupted on Sunday, 15 December in the country.

It was reported that around 450 people many of them Nuer were killed in Juba, following what reports from Bor said rebel soldiers led by Gen. Peter Gatdet killed civilians from the Dinka ethnic group. Also UN officials disclosed that some 75 bodies of Dinka civilians or belonging to the SPLA were killed in Bentiu the capital of Unity state.

Addressing the church congregation in the Cathedral Church at Kator in Juba on Wednesday, president Kiir admitted that elements of his forces had carried out killings in the residents of Juba.

He said that “this orientation is “unacceptable”. “It will only lead to one thing and that is to turn this new nation into chaos”.

The president said he ordered security forces to not harass civilians or to loot their properties. “All the unruly and undisciplined soldiers who are behind such terrible acts and who are randomly bent to killing innocent people are criminal and will not escape the long arm of justice and will have to be published”, he stressed.

Kiir also called on the former South Sudanese president “Dr. Riek Machar Tney and forces supporting him to do the same”.

Both Kiir and Machar have agreed to talks mediated by other East African countries but so far no progress have been made. Meanwhile the conflict has spread to other parts of the young nation.

(ST)

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49337

UN calls for more aid for displaced in Sudan and S Sudan

AL  JAZEERA

More than 350,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in three states in Sudan and South Sudan, according to the UN refugee agency.

Two of the states – South Kordofan and Blue Nile – are in Sudan, while the third – Jonglei – is in the world’s newest nation.

In Blue Nile and South Kordofan, 100,000 people each have been forced out of their homes. Jonglei, in South Sudan, remains the worst affected, with inter-tribal violence having driven 150,000 from their homes.

In the six months since the independence of South Sudan, 360,000 people have arrived in the newly formed nation but Guterres said, “there is almost no economy, no infrastructure”, leaving those arriving to the south with little in terms of integration into the young state.Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday from the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos, Switzerland, Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), said that the issues facing the three states are ultimately political ones – about borders, oil, and citizenship status after the formation of South Sudan last summer.

“There is never a humanitarian solution for humanitarian problems. The solution is always political,” Guterres said, referring to the situation as a “massive humanitarian emergency”.  Read more…

UN says South Sudan attack by Lou Nuer repelled

BBC

Thousands of youths from a South Sudanese ethnic group which attacked a rival community, reportedly killing at least 150 people, have been repelled by government troops, the UN says.

 

 

The UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator in the region, Lise Grande, says 6,000 members of the Lou Nuer ethnic group have left the besieged town of Pibor.

The clashes took place between the Lou Nuer and their rivals, the Murle.

The fighting follows long-running disputes over cattle raids.  Read more…

South Sudan: conflict in Jonglei leads to civilian deaths and displacement

Sudan Tribune/allAfrica

The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should immediately declare a state of emergency and establish a Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) buffer zone in the conflict areas of Jonglei state, a civil society entity said on Wednesday.

In a statement published ahead of a planned visit by government officials to assess the security situation in the state, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) argues that such measures will help resolve the tense situation between the Luo Nuer and the Murle communities.

Displaced civilians in Jonglei

 

 

According to section 187 (1) of South Sudan’s transitional constitution, “The president, may upon the occurrence of an imminent danger, whether it is war, invasion, blockade, natural disaster or epidemics, as may threaten the country, or any part thereof or the safety or economy of the same, declare a state of emergency in the country, or in any part thereof, in accordance with this Constitution and the law.”

On Monday, at least 24 people, mostly civilians, were reportedly killed in a clash involving Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic communities in Pibor County, Jonglei state, authorities said on Tuesday.  Read more…