Category Archives: Central Africa

South Sudan – plans for major spending boost to help heal divisions

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

South Sudan’s cabinet wants to almost triple spending in the next budget, as it hopes to stabilise the fledgling country that has flirted with civil war.

However, with earnings from its main asset – oil – heavily disrupted, it was unclear how the government could finance such a level of spending.

The cabinet approved a budget proposal for the 2016/17 fiscal year that caps government spending at 29.6 billion South Sudan pounds ($520 million), a 187 percent rise over the year that ended on June 30.

The world’s newest country has been ravaged by war since December 2013, when soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed in the capital Juba with troops loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar.

A shaky peace deal was agreed a year ago, but it was frequently violated.

Machar returned to Juba as deputy president in April but Kiir appointed a new deputy to replace him in late July, when he left the capital after street battles between rival troops.

The fighting has hurt oil production, a major source of revenue, which has also been hit by falling prices. The economy has been battered, driving prices higher. Inflation has surged in July to reach an annual rate of 661.3 percent.

“This (budget) increase, estimated to be 187 percent, comes of course as a result of so many factors including the implementation of the (peace) agreement,” Michael Makuei, Information Minister and Government spokesman, told a news conference late on Wednesday.

“Objective number one was the consolidation of peace by prioritising the financing of the agreement. Number two, to restore confidence in local markets by improving key economic indicators: economic growth, employment, inflation and exchange rate,” Makuei said.

Makuei said the ceiling was a proposal and the finance ministry and other ministries would work out the final details before the budget is brought to parliament for approval at a date yet to be decided.

He did not say what the sources of funding would be but in the past oil has accounted for most of its revenues. Juba has also taken loans from Chinese companies, offering to pay them back with future oil proceeds.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Deng Alor said the country planned to ask China for a $1.9 billion loan – a sum equal to more than a fifth of its national output – to be used for infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

($1 = 56.90 South Sudanese pounds)

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Toby Chopra)

Burundi – presidential commission says people want constitutional term limits removed

Reuters

By Clement Manirabarusha | BUJUMBURA

Burundi could scrap presidential term limits from its constitution after a commission set up to hear public views on governance said most citizens wanted no curbs on the number of times the head of state may seek re-election.

The central African nation has been gripped by violence for more than a year, triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term.

Opponents said the decision, taken in April 2015, violated the country’s constitution which currently limits presidential tenure to two five-year terms.

Justin Nzoyisaba, chairman of CNDI, a commission set up by Nkurunziza last year to canvas public opinion on the country’s political system, said late on Wednesday that most Burundians wanted term limits abolished.

The majority of the people the commission met “want the president …to exercise more than two terms,” he told a news conference.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Nduwimana in Kigali; writing by Elias Biryabarema)

Is there is new era emerging of relations between Sudan and South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM/JUBA) – Sudan and South Sudan appear to be on the verge of bringing their relations to a new level following the current visit of First-Vice President Taban Deng Gai to Khartoum which Juba hopes would normalize ties between the two nations particularly as it faces mounting international pressures.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir look on during a photo opportunity at the state house in capital Juba January 6, 2014 (Reuters/James Akena)

On the one side, Gai and his senior economic and military delegation who arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday, have discussed outstanding issues between the two countries including security, border and oil issues.

However, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have sought to gain support of the Sudanese government in the face of the heavy international pressure that he encountered following the escape of his former First Vice-President Riek Machar which exacerbated the humanitarian and security situation in the newborn state.

Kiir had written a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir expressing full commitment to implement all cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2012 before asking Khartoum to deal the same way with his government.

He also underscored his personal commitment to work to achieve a homegrown solution to stopping the war that brought his country to the brink of economic collapse.

“Let me be clear my brother, Omer al-Bashir and members of your government that we are not opposed to the regional support. We need support of the region, particularly countries like Sudan but this support should be supplementary. It should be a supplementary to our own so it is not rejected by the people. The region also needs to know that imported solutions aren’t the answer. We have many examples where external intervention had been short lived in other countries. Only a domestic solution realised from understanding people’s needs and aspirations that can be permanent”, Kiir explained in the special letter addressed to al-Bashir, copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.

The South Sudanese government has declined to respond to a UN Security Council Resolution 2304 that authorized sending extra 4,000 troops to boost UN peacekeepers in country with a mandate to fight rival forces considering the move a violation to its sovereignty.

Washington is standing behind the resolution to send extra troops to South Sudan, saying it would participate to the protection of civilians in the country.

“It is absolutely indisputable that we need to push for the deployment of the regional force which has been approved by the UN Security Council” said US Secretary of State John Kerry during his meeting with five Foreign Ministers from the regional bloc IGAD on Monday in Nairobi.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

Earlier this month Sudan declined a proposal by some international partners to conduct a solo mediation between the warring parties in South Sudan and also refused to send troops within the regional force, saying it doesn’t want to create any sensitivities with the conflicting parties.

“Sudan is sticking to its role within the IGAD only,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters on August 2.

In his special letter, Kiir further projected the future of South Sudan to be brighter, saying the country was now moving forward after the appointment of Gai as his new first deputy in unity government in place of armed opposition leader, his main political rival for top office in the country, Riek Machar.

“We are moving towards a brighter future and the international community should support and not weaken us, the letter adds in part. It further added that South Sudan doesn’t need lessons on human rights from the international community. “Respecting human rights is enshrined in our culture, heritage and it is part of our values system. We are more respectful of human rights in terms of commitment and action,” it added.

It was apparent from Kiir’s letter that Juba seeks to win the trust of Khartoum by sending clear signals to assure the latter that it intends to open a new chapter in relations.

Also, these signals were sent by Gai when he directly addressed Khartoum’s major concern about the security file between the two countries and particularly with regard to Juba’s support for the Sudanese rebels saying his country is keen to resolve the outstanding security issues within three weeks.

On Monday, Gai also sent amessage from Khartoum to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) demanding the rebel group to resort to the peaceful settlement with the Sudanese government.

He stressed that his country wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for any Sudanese who wants to continue the war against Khartoum, adding “we hope that Sudan wouldn’t serve as a launching pad for Machar”.

South Sudan’s First Vice President Gai also on Tuesday denied that Darfur movements and SPLM-N are currently present in South Sudan’s territory, saying mutual accusations between the two countries “would continue until we agree on a verification mechanism”.

“We would go to Addis Ababa and all places where these [rebel] movements have presence and tell them that appropriate time has come to achieve peace and we would render the necessary support and advise them in a kind manner” he said.

“We advise them [SPLM-N] that wartime is over, and we say to them that your brothers in South Sudan shouldn’t suffer because of you, for even if the South didn’t support you Sudan is making use of that [pretext]” he added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern Sudanese voters chose independence.

Relations between the two nations soured after South Sudan’s independence following a series of disputes over a number of issues.

(ST)

South Sudan – Machar in Khartoum for medical treatment

Reuters

South Sudan opposition leader in Khartoum for treatment, Sudan says

(This August 23 story has been corrected to change the date of the final peace deal from 1995 to 2005 in paragraph 9)

South Sudan opposition leader, Riek Machar, is in Khartoum for medical treatment, a Sudanese minister told the state news agency SUNA on Tuesday, after he left the country to escape government forces.

President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from his post as vice president after renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba last month between forces loyal to the long-time rivals. The clashes forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Machar withdrew to the bush during the fighting in Juba and was picked up this month by U.N. peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury. His spokesman earlier said Machar had left South Sudan to evade Kiir’s forces and had said his injury was not serious enough to require medical attention.

However, on Tuesday, Sudan said he was receiving treatment.

“Sudan has received, lately, Dr. Riek Machar, for pure humanitarian reasons, especially his need for treatment and medical care,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said.

“Dr. Riek Machar’s health is stable currently and he will remain in the country under comprehensive healthcare until he leaves to a destination of his choice to complete his treatment,” he added.

Machar’s spokesman in Nairobi, James Gatdet Dak, could not immediately confirm he had travelled to Khartoum. He said Machar’s original plan had been to travel to Addis Ababa, which has previously hosted South Sudan’s troubled peace process.

Machar and Kiir have long been rivals, even before South Sudan’s independence in 2011 when they were both commanders in the SPLA force that fought Sudan’s Khartoum-based government.

Machar, at one point in the two-decade-long conflict, led a splinter group that signed a unilateral peace deal with the Khartoum government in 1997 that give him an official post in Sudan. Sudan’s government and the SPLA finally signed a peace deal in 2005, which led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

But by December 2013, the political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had again boiled over into a civil conflict, which often followed ethnic lines.

The two men signed a peace deal in August 2015. Under that deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as vice president. But fighting flared last month and he was then sacked.

During a visit to Kenya, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged South Sudan’s leaders to “get the job done” by fully implementing the peace deal or face a U.N. arms embargo and sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to authorise sending an extra 4,000 troops to the country to bolster the existing U.N. mission, which South Sudan said it was considering.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Asma Alsharif and Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

Angola – MPLA picks leaders ready for 2017 elections

Reuters

Angola’s ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) elected new party leaders on Tuesday, including a former army general seen as a front-runner to succeed long-time president José Eduardo dos Santos.

MPLA’s Central Committee elected João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, a retired general and defence minister, as vice president ahead of 2017 parliamentary elections where the leader of the winning party becomes president.

Dos Santos, president of oil-producing southern African nation since 1979, was re-elected party leader over the weekend by an overwhelming majority. But in March he indicated he would be step down by 2018, although he failed to name a successor.

Dos Santos’ billionaire daughter, Isabel, is seen as another potential successor after her appointment by presidential decree to chief executive of state oil firm Sonangol, the main source of government revenues.

The appointment in June was seen by some analysts as dos Santos laying the ground for dynastic, family succession if the president follows through on his indication to step down in 2018.

The party also elected former prime minister António Paulo Kassoma as secretary general of the organisation.

Angola, a member of OPEC and Africa’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria, has been battered by the slump in global crude prices that has dried-up revenues and provoked opposition to dos Santos’ 36-year rule.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana)

South Sudan – Kerry says appointment of Taban Deng legal under peace deal

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, said Monday in Nairobi that the appointment of South Sudanese First Vice President Taban Deng Gai to succeed Riek Machar was “legal” under the provisions of the 2015 peace agreement.

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President Salva Kiir with US secretary of state John Kerry as they hold a bilateral meeting at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington on 5 August 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Speaking to reporters after meeting five foreign ministers of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia Kerry said the US backed protection force has limited definition and scope with respect to restoring peace in the country.

“With respect to Machar, it’s not up to the United States; it’s up to the leaders of South Sudan and the people of South Sudan and the political parties and the political process, and their neighbors, to weigh in on what is best or not best with respect to Machar,” said Kerry when asked by a reporter to comment on the controversial replacement of the armed opposition leader and former South Sudanese First Vice President, Riek Machar.

He said the process leading to Machar’s replacement with Gai has not broken any law.

“I think it’s quite clear that legally, under the agreement, there is allowance for the replacement in a transition of personnel, and that has been effected with the appointment of a new vice president. And what they decide to do is going to be dependent on them in the context of the implementation of the peace agreement,” he added.

Gai was appointed by section of the SPLM IO leaders in Juba in July after Machar fled the South Sudanese capital following four days of fighting between his forces and those loyal to President Salva Kiir.

The United Nations Security Council passed a U.S drafted resolution early this month to send a strong 4,000 protection force to Juba to boast UN peacekeepers in the country with a new mandate to response forcefully to any anti-peace elements in the government or armed opposition.

“With respect to the protection force, let me make it clear: The protection force is limited by definition, not a response to the overall crisis within the country as a whole, because clearly, there are many people with weapons in many parts of the country, and a protection force of 4,000 people will not have the capacity to cover all those bases,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“But the hope is that with a transitional government that is now committed to the full implementation of the peace agreement and that has already begun to implement that peace agreement, that a force with a presence in Juba itself, which is where most of the violence took place during the last round, will be able to guarantee access for everybody, and that includes people trying to prevent the violence,” he added.

According to the UNSC, the protection force will be deployed in Juba by September 15. South Sudanese government said it has not made a decision to reject or accept the extra force that will increase UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to 17,000 troops.

(ST)

Kerry warns South Sudan leaders to stick to peace deal or face sanctions

Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a news conference in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
By Lesley Wroughton | NAIROBI

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged South Sudan’s leaders to “get the job done” by fully implementing a peace deal or face a U.N. arms embargo and sanctions.

His warning followed meetings in Nairobi on Monday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and foreign ministers from Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan to discuss escalating violence in South Sudan and the deployment of a U.N. protection force.

“It’s really up to the people, the leadership of South Sudan to lead and to do the things that they’ve promised to do,” Kerry said in an interview with South Sudan’s “Eye Radio” broadcast on Tuesday morning.

“If they don’t, then obviously it may be that the U.N. arms embargo and sanctions are going to be the tools of last resort. It’s not what people wanted to have to do, but our hope is that the government, the transition government will seize the bull by the horns here and get the job done,” he added.

Fighting in the capital Juba last month has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war.

The violence prompted the United Nations to authorise the deployment of 4,000 extra U.N. troops to bolster a U.N. mission there, warning South Sudan it would face an arms embargo if it did not cooperate.

South Sudan’s government initially said it would not cooperate with the new U.N. troops which will be under the command of the 12,000-strong UNMISS mission. But since then it has said it was still considering its position.

Kerry said the force was not an intervention force that would challenge the sovereignty of the country. Its main task would be to protect property and civilians in Juba.

South Sudan secured its independence in 2011, but by December 2013 the longtime political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had led to civil conflict that often followed ethnic lines.

The two men signed a peace deal in August 2015, but spent months wrangling over details while sporadic violence flared. Crucial elements of the deal, such as integrating the government and former rebel forces, have not been carried out.

The fighting has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring states.

Ask whether the United States was willing to help South Sudan’s economy recover, Kerry said it would only do so if the nation’s leaders implemented a peace agreement and was doing whatever necessary to stabilise the country.

“If they choose not to do that, then we, who have been the largest donor in the world to the government of South Sudan, will have to rethink what we’re doing,” he added.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Edmund Blair and Michael Perry)