Tag Archives: AU and South Sudan

South Sudan – Rebel leader Machar backs AU call for end to conflict

Sudan Tribune

January 31, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar has strongly supported calls from the African Union, the East African regional bloc (IGAD) and United Nations for an end to the country’s conflict.

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South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Tiksa Negeri)

Machar, who currently lives in South Africa, however, disagreed on the advocacy for an inclusive national dialogue in the young nation, saying it cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and stability.

Calls for both dialogue and an inclusive dialogue were made in a joint statement issued by AU, IGAD and the U.N during consultations on the South Sudan crisis at the sidelines of the just-concluded AU head of states and governments summit in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

The South Sudanese official said outcomes of the summit contradict the U.N Security Council approach to South Sudan’s ongoing crisis.

“The joint statement by the AU invigorated IGAD and the U.N seems to interpret the national dialogue declared by President Salva Kiir to invigorate peace process that was declared by the UNSC. The national dialogue we believe cannot replace the process aiming at reviving the agreement and ending the war,” explained Machar.

He said for a meaningful dialogue to take place, there was need to first end the war so as to create conducive environment and a safe space for the people of South Sudan in order to achieve inclusivity and enable people to express their views minus fear or favour.

“Our vision of the national dialogue is a participatory process inclusive of grassroots, refugees, internally displaced, victims and perpetrators of atrocities,” stressed the South Sudanese rebel leader.

Last month, the UNSC president called for a new invigorated inclusive political process to restore the agreement on the resolution of South Sudan’s conflict and end renewed fighting in the country.

Machar, however, insisted the new mechanisms adopted in Addis-Ababa at the sidelines of the AU summit, instead blessed president Kiir “self-made” national dialogue, which, he said, contradicted what the UNSC president said in relation to the South Sudan crisis.

“A national dialogue will not work as war continues across South Sudan. Dialogue comes after meaningful peace is achieved,” he said, urging the regional and international partners to instead dedicate their commitment a peace process that will end the war.

The South Sudanese rebel leader welcomed the appointment of Alpha Konare’s as the new AU envoy to South Sudan, vowing to closely work with the latter for peaceful resolution of the conflict.


South Sudan – Kiir wants Machar out of unity government

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir say they wished their peace partner and ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar does not return to Juba and assume his position in the coalition government.

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President Salva kiir(C) FVP; Riek Machar (L), and VP, Marilyn, raise their hands after swearing in ceremony of Machar on April 26, 2016. (Photo Lomayat Moses)

Senior officials allied to President Kiir on Wednesday announced willingness to fully implement the August 2015 peace agreement which the President Kiir signed with the opposition leader, Machar.

Presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkages, Tor Deng Mawien, described the implementation of the agreement to be moving at rapid speed with the appointment of Taban Deng Gai as the replacement of Machar after he was unilaterally removed from his capacity as First Vice President by Kiir due to his absence.

“Anybody who has been following the turns of events and the level of movement would appreciate the speed at which the president has demonstrated his commitment to implementing the peace agreement because he has now found a partner. General Taban Deng Gai has demonstrated willingness to working collaboratively with the president to implement the peace agreement so that to move the country forward. This is what is very important. It is not who occupies which position,” Mawien, a relative and a strong political ally of President Kiir, said during an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune.

Mawien said it was now time for the region and the international community at large to extend a helping hand and work together with the current transitional government of national unity as recommended by the outcome of the communique of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“With such changes taking place within the presidency, where there is now a better working relationship, the region and the international community should take advantage of this new spirit and the working environment of cooperation to come out and extend support to implement the agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gordon Buay, one of the senior representatives at South Sudanese embassy in the United States, claimed that the world was now accepting the appointment of Gai because they have realised that it was not easy for president Kiir to work together with Machar.

“The entire world is convinced that Riek Machar cannot work together with President Kiir given the incident of July, 8, this year coupled with December, 15, 2013. Therefore, the world accepted Taban Deng Gai to implement the peace [agreement] with President Kiir simply because bringing back Riek Machar to Juba to the Presidential Palace is like lightening a match near kerosene or benzene. The result is fire, fire, fire, fire, fire and fire,” Buay told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday from Washington DC.

He claimed further that the world leaders have reached a logical conclusion that Riek Machar has no place in the transitional government of national unity because he is purportedly “a combustible product that can easily explode and kill people.”

Gai, on the other hand, he described, is like “an air condition that cools the room. He is the right person to work with President Kiir to cool South Sudan.

However, both IGAD communiqué and United Nations Security Council’s resolutions criticized the replacement of Machar as “inconsistent” with the peace agreement and called for reinstatement of Machar to his position as First Vice President.

Observers are keen to underline that the speed at which the assembly reconstitution and after the replacement of Machar suggests there was an underground conspiracy to remove him from office and replace him with someone who would not stick to implementation of the key provisions in the deal.

President Kiir himself announced at the opening of the assembly that the delay was due to petty political differences and lack of better working relationship between him and Machar at the time.

He declared he would from the time of opening the assembly work collaboratively with Gai to implement the agreement. Gai declared at the inaugural function of his appointment that there was no need for two armies in the country and president Kiir was the only existing commander in chief in the country.


US pushing for deployment of extra UN troops in South Sudan


By Lesley Wroughton | NAIROBI

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he and regional states were committed to giving momentum to the planned deployment of extra U.N. troops to South Sudan and said the country’s leaders needed to recommit to a peace deal.

Fierce fighting in the capital Juba last month has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war. It prompted the United Nations to authorise the deployment of 4,000 additional U.N. troops to bolster a U.N. mission there.

“We need to move forward with the deployment of a regional protection force,” Kerry told a news conference in Nairobi after talks with foreign ministers from Kenya and other African states that had focused on South Sudan and Somalia’s reconstruction.

Kerry said regional states, which have pushed for sending the new troops to help South Sudan’s 12,000-strong U.N. mission UNMISS, had agreed on “the immediate implementation process” of meetings and steps to “guarantee some momentum builds up.”

About two years of conflict that pitted troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against those of his former deputy Riek Machar was supposed to have ended with a peace deal last year. But fighting persisted and flared again last month in Juba.

After the latest violence, Machar, who had returned to the capital in April to resume his post as vice president, withdrew again to the bush and was picked up this month by U.N. peace keepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield attend bilateral talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, August 22, 2016.REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kiir has again sacked him and appointed a new vice president.

Kerry said it was up to South Sudan’s leaders, political parties and neighbours to work out “what is best or not best with respect to Machar”, but all sides had to stop fighting.

“We urged all the parties to recommit in word and deed to the full implementation of the peace agreement,” Kerry said.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, speaking at the same news conference, said the new U.N. force should be deployed “sooner rather than later” but said it could be sent gradually.

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.

“We have not rejected it or accepted it. The sovereignty of the people of South Sudan will be decided by the parliament,” South Sudan’s presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.

World powers and regional states have struggled to find leverage over South Sudan’s warring factions despite U.S. and European sanctions on some military leaders and African threats of punitive actions.

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

Kerry, who pledged new humanitarian aid to South Sudan worth $138 million, said the new U.N. troop contingent was “not an intervention force” but would protect civilians and support those working to ensure peace prevailed.

In the latest flare-up in July, Washington was particularly concerned by an attack on a Juba hotel by uniformed men who killed a U.S.-funded journalist and raped civilians, including aid workers.

The U.N. has launched an investigation into accusations U.N. peace keepers in Juba failed to respond properly to the attack.

South Sudanese government officials say that just because the perpetrators were in uniform did not mean they were either under the command of the government or the opposition.

(Additional reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba; Editing by Edmund Blair and Dominic Evans)

Kerry and African ministers to discuss South Sudan and Somalia


By Lesley Wroughton | NAIROBI

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and counterparts from eight African nations meet in Nairobi on Monday to discuss ways to prevent South Sudan from sliding back into civil war and advance a political transition in Somalia.

Kerry arrived in the Kenyan capital late on Sunday – after a two-week summer break – for his second trip as secretary of state to Nairobi since May 2015.

On Tuesday, he travels to Sokoto, Nigeria, the historic Muslim city in the remote northwest, followed by talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

“We will … talk about how we move forward in trying to implement peace in this country,” a senior State Department official said of South Sudan.

“The people of South Sudan have suffered for far too long, and the continued instability there has led almost a million refugees and a humanitarian crisis that is far beyond the abilities of even the international community to respond to,” the official told a conference call.

The international community has poured billions of aid into supporting the world’s youngest nation, which gained independence in 2011. Oil production, by far the biggest source of government revenue, has plummeted.

But worsening violence has raised fears of a return to civil war that erupted in late 2013, which broadly ran along ethnic lines, pitting President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against his rival and vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Violence flared when Machar withdrew his forces from the capital Juba in July and was sacked by Kiir as vice president.

Machar was picked up by U.N. peacekeepers in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo a week ago with a leg injury and was handed over to authorities in Congo.

Machar led a two-year rebellion against forces loyal to rival Kiir before the two sides reached a peace deal in August 2015. Under the deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as vice president.

On Monday, Kerry will meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before joining foreign ministers from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia to discuss South Sudan and Somalia, where there are concerns that delays in the approval of new election rules could dampen its recovery from conflict.

World powers and regional states have struggled to find leverage over the warring factions in South Sudan, despite U.S. and European sanctions on some military leaders and African threats of punitive actions.

Especially of concern to Washington was an attack on a Juba hotel in July by uniformed men who killed a U.S.-funded journalist and raped civilians, including aid workers.

The U.N. has launched an investigation into accusations U.N. peacekeepers in Juba failed to respond properly to the attack.

In Kerry’s talks with Kenyatta, he will also discuss Kenya’s presidential election set for August 2017, the senior State Department official said.

Opposition protests in Nairobi since April have stoked fears among church leaders and Western diplomats of a repeat of the violence following the 2007 election in which 1,200 people were killed.

In a letter to Kerry before his visit, the Human Rights Watch group urged him to discuss rights concerns with Kenyatta. The group said it had documented 34 cases of extrajudicial killings and another 11 deaths of people last seen in state custody over alleged links with al-Shabaab militants in Nairobi and in the northeast.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

South Sudan needs new ideas not just a UN-imposed government

Institute for Security Studies

South Sudan needs new ideas, not a UN-imposed government

We can all agree: all is not well in South Sudan. The young country’s Independence Day celebrations were marred by renewed fighting, and the peace deal is hanging by the slenderest of threads. Something needs to change. If the international community wants to prevent another round of bloodshed, then it needs a new approach – and quickly.

Enter Princeton Lyman and Kate Almquist Knopf. Say what you like about their controversial idea, but there’s no doubt that they are thinking outside the box. In their own words, this is their plan, as published in the Financial Times:

‘There is, however, another way: put South Sudan on “life support” by establishing an executive mandate for the UN and the AU to administer the country until institutions exist to manage politics nonviolently and break up the patronage networks underlying the conflict. This will realistically take 10-15 years. Planning for it at the outset, however, is more sensible than the accumulation of one-year mandates over decades, as is the case with other peacekeeping missions.

To prevent another round of bloodshed in South Sudan, a new approach is needed – and quickly

‘Given South Sudan’s extreme degree of state failure, temporary external administration is the only remaining path to protect and restore its sovereignty. It would empower the people of South Sudan to take ownership of their future and develop a new vision for their country. While a morally bankrupt and predatory elite will falsely characterise such an initiative as a violation of sovereignty, it is this very elite that has put the country’s survival at risk. Though seemingly radical, international administration is not unprecedented and has previously been employed to guide Kosovo, East Timor and other countries out of conflict. In South Sudan, the stakes are no less,’ the pair conclude.

To remove South Sudan’s elected government and insert some kind of international transitional authority is without doubt a radical proposal, made all the more so by the stature and influence of its authors.

Lyman is a career diplomat who served as the United States special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from 2011-2013, overseeing South Sudan’s independence in the process. He now advises the president of the United States Institute of Peace, a state-sponsored body with close links to US intelligence. Knopf, meanwhile, is director of the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, a think tank belonging to the US Department of Defence.

There can be no doubt that their proposal, although not an official position, comes after serious discussion at the very highest levels of US diplomacy.

More recently, variants on the trusteeship model were used in Kosovo and East Timor

This doesn’t mean, however, that it can work. ‘My heart is saying this is something worth looking at given the deadlock that seems to be prevailing right now in South Sudan, but of course one has to be realistic. The cardinal principle of sovereignty, as enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the AU, will be the first stumbling block,’ commented Ambassador Alfred Dube, director of the Institute for Security Studies’ Addis Ababa office.

The concept of ‘trusteeship’, where an international body takes over the governance of a sovereign entity until such time as it is ready to govern itself, is not a novel idea. In fact, one of the original institutions of the United Nations (UN) was the International Trusteeship System, designed to supervise and administer the 11 territories that were under UN authority.

More recently, variants on the trusteeship model were employed in Kosovo and East Timor, where UN missions assumed the most important attributes of sovereignty before handing over power to local authorities.

Beyond the obvious practical issues – like who is going to pay for an international transitional government, which will certainly be more expensive than Lyman and Knopf estimate – there are several obstacles to something similar working in South Sudan.

The first, as Dube noted, is the historical reluctance of African states to legitimise any interventions in other African states. This is born partly of the continent’s long and bitter history of colonialism, and also partly from the reluctance of certain leaders to set a precedent which could one day be used against themselves.

Lyman and Knopf’s radical proposal is unwieldy and unworkable in practice

‘A genocide could happen if the international community does not move quickly in South Sudan. Will that be enough to convince those who oppose interference into their affairs?’ said Dube. ‘While it’s a start, it won’t be enough. This radical proposal (whatever its short comings) should give impetus to the key players to reignite what is now a failing peace process’.

Another major obstacle is the difficulty in getting South Sudan’s leaders to agree to such a proposal. They have all been engaged in a decades-long struggle, first for independence from Sudan and then for power within the new South Sudan. There is little to suggest that any of the major players are willing to give up on their ambitions.

It’s also not a given that the UN or the African Union (AU), or some combination thereof, will actually govern any better. ‘The fact that people think it is okay to say things like that shows the level of condescension that still dominates the intervention realm. Saying to people who fought for more than 50 years for the right to self-rule that they are not capable of doing so, reeks of arrogance and hypocrisy’ said Lauren Hutton, an independent consultant with the ISS.

‘But even more so, Lyman and others assume that they (the UN and/or the AU) know how to run the country better than South Sudan’s current leaders.’

Hutton suggests that the international community would be better served by increasing humanitarian assistance, and by rethinking their commitment to the current political balance in the country (so often reduced by outsiders to the relationship between President Salva Kiir and his sometimes-deputy Riek Machar).

While South Sudan is undoubtedly in need of new ideas, Lyman and Knopf’s radical proposal to replace the government with international trustees is unwieldy and unworkable in practice. Back to the drawing board.

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

South Sudan – Museveni urges Kiir to accept regional force

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has advised his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, to not reject deployment of additional regional third party force in Juba, but to instead focus on negotiating the level of their mandate as they deploy in the country.

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President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (R) after signing a peace agreement on August 26, 2015 (Photo AFP /Charles Lomodong)

Museveni said failure to comply with the African Union’s endorsed deployment of the troops to Juba will complicate the matter and result to further tougher measures which can be taken against the country and its leadership, cautioning President Kiir not to fall into “traps of western countries.”

This came in a meeting on Saturday in Kampala between President Kiir and President Museveni.

President Museveni, according to a presidential source who accompanied President Kiir to Kampala, said he made the remarks during their discussions on regional peace and security, particularly the proposed deployment of additional foreign troops in South Sudan.

This week, President Kiir vowed to not allow even a “single foreign soldier” to deploy in South Sudan in his reaction to the AU’s resolution to deploy a third party force to separate rival forces loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to his first deputy, Riek Machar. The government also organized demonstrations in Juba and in some states to reject the deployment of additional foreign forces with senior officials vowing to fight them should they deploy.

The force would also provide protection to the South Sudanese leadership, essential government infrastructures including the Juba airport as well as citizens at risk of violence in the capital.

There were no details of the issues the two leaders have discussed and resolved, as there was no official statement issued by the office of South Sudan president before and after the return from Uganda.

However, the high level presidential source told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that president Kiir travelled to Uganda to seek advice with president Museveni, who remains the only ally in the region.

President Museveni’s influence in the region, he said, has however been overshadowed by an unanimous regional consensus to dispatch additional foreign troops to shore up the fighting and protection capacity of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the country.

Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda are some among the countries in the region backing up the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries and African Union (AU), asking countries in the region to contribute and dispatch additional troops with a stronger mandate to protect civilians at risk or exposed to an extreme violence and to act as buffer for rival armed groups in the country.

“President Kiir went to Uganda at the invitation of president Museveni over regional matters. He advised him not to accept provocations and fall into the traps of western countries. The western governments are desperately looking for an excuse to go to the country and that the president should be extra careful,” he quoted the advice President Museveni had given to President Kiir.

“He advised him to negotiate the mandate of the regional force instead of an outright rejection. So president Kiir was basically going to seek audience with president Museveni and to share ideas on the regional intervention force and how this situation could be handled,” he told Sudan Tribune.

Meanwhile, president Museveni in his Facebook page released after the meeting with president Kiir on Saturday confirmed holding talks on regional matters but did not divulge into the details of the discussions.

“I have today held talks with my South Sudan counterpart, His Excellency Salva Kiir, at State House, Entebbe. We focused on regional issues but importantly how to ensure peace and stability returns to South Sudan,” said president Museveni, according to a post on his Facebook page.

The African Union has endorsed the deployment of the forces, saying the troops deployment will take place whether President Kiir liked it or not.

Opposition party led by Riek Machar also supported the deployment of the forces, saying their leader, Machar, will immediately return to Juba from his hiding place once the troops are on the ground to ensure his safety.

Machar fled the capital on 11 July after four days of clashes between his small number of troops and forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. His officials said he is still around Juba and will return any time soon.


African Union – leaders back plan for AU regional force for South Sudan


African Union troopsAFP  AU troops will have a more robust mandate than the 12,000-strong UN force

African leaders have backed plans to deploy regional troops to South Sudan after recent fighting between rival forces left hundreds of people dead.

Soldiers for the African Union (AU) force are to come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

A 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force is already in the country, but the AU force would have a stronger mandate, officials say.

South Sudan’s government says it is opposed the deployment of the force.

“We are not ready for a deployment of even a single additional soldier,” South Sudan’s Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme. “That does not solve the problem.”

President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice-President Riek Machar, announced a ceasefire last week.

Clashes over several days between troops loyal to the two men had threatened a recent peace deal.

“The UN doesn’t have the mandate to impose peace,” the AFP news agency quoted AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui as saying at the AU summit in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

“They are there where there is peace to keep. African troops are ready to engage in very difficult situations.”

He explained that the mission would be similar to the deployment of a 3,000-strong special force that took on the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013.

Over the weekend, UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for the AU deployment.

But Mr Lueth blamed the recent fighting on the peace deal which, he said, was imposed on the country by regional mediators.

“As a sovereign state… this thing cannot be imposed on us without our consent,” he said, adding that it would not “serve the interests of the people of South Sudan”.

A new challenge for the AU: Analysis by Tomi Oladipo, BBC Monitoring Africa security correspondent

President Kiir will be hoping that the African Union shelves its plan to deploy troops in South Sudan as it did in the case of Burundi. So far the continental body has only sent forces in at the request of the state in need. Theoretically it can intervene against a nation’s wishes, which is part of the remit of the new rapid-response African Standby Force.

The AU has a history of talking tough but so far has been unable to rein in problematic African leaders. It is also struggling to fund its operations – so taking on a new intervention force, reliant on external support, will only add to its challenges.

The AU wants to model this new force on the Force Intervention Brigade sent to eastern DR Congo to battle rebel groups. That was a collaboration involving the AU, the UN and the Southern African Development Community. The force defeated the M23 rebels after some 800,000 people had fled their homes during their insurgency.

Mr Kiir’s troops make up the majority in and around the capital, Juba, contrary to the terms of the peace agreement with the opposition. So it would be a huge challenge for the AU force to attempt to call them to order, but it would provide a buffer to the outnumbered troops on Mr Machar’s side, whose whereabouts following the recent fighting remains unclear.

Why did the fighting resume?

South Sudan Riek Machar, left. Salva Kiir, South Sudan President, right, on 8 JulyImage copyrightAP
Image captionVice-President Riek Machar, left, and President Salva Kiir have been locked in a power struggle

It seems a disagreement at a checkpoint between rival soldiers led to a shootout on the evening of 7 July in which five soldiers died. This quickly escalated into serious fighting the next day and over the following weekend.

Tensions have been high since April, when Mr Machar returned to Juba under a peace deal following a two-year civil war. He took a 1,300-strong protection force with him and they were supposed to start joint patrols with forces loyal to President Kiir. But a lack of trust between the two sides meant the patrols had not begun.

A ceasefire agreed last week is holding. But the two-year civil war started after clashes between rival soldiers in Juba and degenerated into nationwide conflict in which tens of thousands died.

The war was fought broadly between South Sudan’s biggest ethnic groups – the Dinka, led by Mr Kiir, and the Nuer, under Mr Machar.

What is the international community doing?

UN armoured personnel carrier in JubaAP UN peacekeepers suffered casualties in the recent clashes

The international community played a major role in the creation of South Sudan and has tried to exercise some influence since independence in 2011.

The East African regional group, which brokered the peace deal, is behind the plans for a robust regional force to be deployed. Many foreign nationals have been evacuated because of the most recent unrest.