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South Sudan – creation of new rebel movement as groups splinter

Daily Natio

Monday March 13 2017
The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. FILE

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. FILE PHOTO | CHARLES ATIKI LOMODONG | AFP 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

The emergence of splinter groups among South Sudan’s warring parties is threatening to derail further efforts to bring the war-torn country to peace, an organ formed to monitor the peace deal say.

At a meeting to brief stakeholders on the respect for ceasefire, Ethiopian military officer Maj-Gen Molla Hailemariam told the audience that both sides have violated the peace deal, something which could worsen if new rebel groups continue to emerge.

“The presence and emergence of different armed groups in other areas still remains a challenge for Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) in conducting its activities.

“CTSAMM is observing deliberate, well planned attacks being committed by both Parties in many areas of the country. These violations indicate a gross disregard for the Permanent Ceasefire and they must stop,” he said in Juba last week.

CTSAMM is an organ made up of representatives from warring parties that signed the peace agreement in 2015.

It also includes representatives of political parties, former detainees, women’s guild, civil society organisations, clerics, the African Union, donors and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).

OUST PRESIDENT KIIR

Currently chaired by Maj-Gen Hailemarriam, it is supposed to ensure that the parties stick by the ceasefire contained in Chapter II of the peace agreement, thought to be necessary for the country to move from its war years.

But as the CTSAMM board met to deliberate and update for the African Union’s Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the security situation, another former government official declared he had formed a new rebel group aimed at ousting President Salva Kiir.

Thomas Cirillo Swaka, until last month the Deputy Chief of General Staff for Logistics in the national army, SPLA, said he was now leading the National Salvation Front (Nas) motivated by the desire for a “citizen-imposed change.”

The new group was declared even as the National Constitutional Amendment Committee led by Kenyan lawyer Gichira Kibara announced it would table its draft changes to the government in Juba, next week.

But the draft changes, most of which are centred on altering the peace agreement into a permanent supreme law now face a challenge of who, among the parties, should be consulted before they are endorsed.

MAKE IT DIFFICULT

Maj-Gen Hailemarriam warned the splintering and disrespect for the agreement could make it difficult to implement all the clauses.

“These actions (of violence) have a detrimental effect on the peace and security of the country and despite our continuous reporting on this issue we are yet to see any change in relation to the commitment to the ceasefire,” he said during a meeting with members of his team.

Meanwhile, South Sudan rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar are threatening to derail plans to implement major cross-border infrastructure projects in the region if they are not consulted.

They want to be party to negotiations by claiming the planned transport infrastructure will pass through areas they control.

“The Eastern (and) Central Corridor Project will not work unless the SPLM-IO under the leadership of former vice president Dr Machar (are) involved for its smooth running,” warned Dickson Gatluak, Spokesman for rebels often known as Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

“To guarantee a smooth implementation, there is a need to involve in the SPLM-IO. Otherwise it’s a wishful thinking and all agreements would remain unworkable on papers (sic),” the official said in a statement.

Gatluak has since been replaced as spokesman with Gabriel Duop Lam who resigned last month from the Transitional government under Salva Kiir. In his resignation letter, Lam who was the Minister for Labour accused Mr Kiir of corruption and brutality, before he shifted allegiance to Dr Machar.

SEEK ATTENTION

The threat to block infrastructure project appear to be a new modus operandi to seek attention, especially since Dr Machar was replaced by Taban Deng Gai and quickly accepted by the international community.

The projects, part of the larger East African Community and the Southern African Development Cooperation (Comesa ) arrangement is a tripartite plan mooted six years ago to address the transportation challenges in the region, blamed for low trade between these countries.

The countries directly involved initially were Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda but the Corridor was designed to link up the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Though certain changes have taken place since it was mooted, it was initially designed to cost at least $1.8 billion and could see five new ports, railway lines and at least eight cross-border highways built.

In South Sudan, an ambitious plan was laid to have a crude-oil pipeline, a refinery, an oil storage facility, a fiber optics cable and power supply line established between Pagak in eastern South Sudan, Gambella in western Ethiopia, Addis Ababa and the Djibouti city.

The idea is to help develop the areas as well as connect the three countries. But now the rebels say that won’t happen unless they take part in discussions.

Mr Gatluak claimed that the people in the South Sudan side are not yet recovered from the violence and would automatically be hostile to such projects unless a “healing” initiative is launched.

Officially, President Kiir’s government denies that rebels control any significant territory and could therefore have no impact in the negotiations.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei last week accused the rebels of desperate attempts to discredit the government in Juba.

“What do you expect the rebels to say about the government they oppose? They will say bad things so this is a normal thing and it is expected.

“If any individual has decided to live a rebellious life, they are free to go. It is not going to affect the strength of the government in any way,” he told the Nation in an interview.

South Sudan’s government wants rebels labelled regionally as a negative force

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan's FVP designate Riek Machar, arrives in his General Headquarters, Pagak. He was received by SPLA-IO's Chief of General Staff, 1st Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, 12 April, 2016 (courtesy photo of SPLM-IO)

March 12, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government on Sunday called on regional leaders to designate as a “negative force”, the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO) operating in the war-ravaged nation.

“The president has declared a national dialogue which has been welcomed by all the countries and leaders in the region because the dialogue is the only way to resolve political issues,” said presidential advisor on security, Tut Kew Gatluak.

“Why continue to fight when the national dialogue has been declared? If there are issues, the national dialogue is the platform through which all these issues would be discussed,” he added.

The presidential advisor went on to mention that those who support the war are a negative force and the government would need to take a firm stance for peace.

“But if there are people who refused this dialogue and continue to advocate for war, the region needs to come out clearly to affirm support to the peace agreement and work with the government to declare these people who are continuing to promote war as a negative force,” Gatluak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

Tut Kew Gatuak claimed the armed opposition forces were “bandits” who had no objectives. “These people who are still carrying arms and killing people are bandits. They have no clear political objectives. Their objectives are simply to kidnap, rape innocent women and loot,” he claimed.

The presidential advisors’ justification for calling the armed opposition bandits was due to the kidnapping of two Indian oil engineers who were taken in an oil field located in Gueluguk North.

The SPLA-IO spokesman Col. William Gatjiath Deng said in a statement last week that their forces captured two Indian nationals who were identified as Ambross Edward and Muggy Vijaya Boopathy.

“Despite repeated warnings from the SPLA-IO leadership, the two Indians engineers namely Mr Ambross Edward and Mr Muggy Vijaya Boopathy working for the Juba regime were captured yesterday Thursday, March 09, 2017 alive during the fighting between the gallant SPLA-IO forces, and the Juba regime soldiers and their Sudanese rebel allies in and around the new oil site at Guelguk north, Adar,” said Col. Deng said.

The armed opposition spokesperson explained in the statement that Edward and Boopathy were captured after rebel forces under the command of Major General Khor Chuol Giet and Brigadier General Gatbel Kuach “disintegrated, defeated, and killed” at least thirty-three government soldiers.

He also proclaimed the SPLA-IO defeated and inflicted heavy losses on government troops and its allies from the Sudanese rebel group.

The rebel spokesman further claimed that the armed opposition took control of the area and warned of unspecified consequences if Juba and its Sudanese allies continue attacking the SPLA-IO positions.

 

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.

(ST)

South Sudan seeking regional help to deny rebels support

Sudan Tribune

September 27, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has started soliciting for support from countries in the region not to host and provide military support to a rebel groups with ambitions to oust the Juba regime through unconstitutional means.

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Riek Machar sits in his field office in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014. (Photo/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

The presidential advisor on security affairs disclosed that officials from the world’s youngest nation have approached regional leaders, particularly countries with interest in the country, over the matter.

“There is a peace agreement which is being implemented already. This is the agreement which was mediated by the countries in the region,” Tut Kew Gatluak told Sudan Tribune Monday.

“These countries [in the region] now need to continue to support the implementation of peace and isolate those who are against it. They should host and provide any kind of support, whether be it political and military support to those against the implementation of peace agreement,” he added.

According to the official, South Sudan is now appealing to countries within the region immediately expel rebel groups within its territories.

“They [should] really try their best to discourage such people and convince them to join peace”, stressed the presidential advisor.

Gatluak is the first senior government official to react to a report in which the leadership of armed opposition under the ousted first vice president and leader, Riek Machar, announced resumption of armed struggle after holding a consultative meeting in Khartoum.

Machar, who is currently in Khartoum after fleeing Juba on July 11, has been denied asylum in Ethiopia where he had hoped to take refuge after completing treatment from a Khartoum-based hospital.

Last week, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, that Addis Ababa “does not need someone who is leading an armed struggle on its soil.”

Ethiopia, after the civil war broke out in Juba in December 2013, played an important role in mediating peace to end conflict in South Sudan and also hosted Machar for most of the two-and-a-half years of the peace negotiations led by the regional bloc (IGAD). However, Addis Ababa is now bowing to pressure from Juba and the dynamics of the deployment of the UN-backed regional protection force.

Ethiopia was supposed to provide the bulk of the 4,000 troops and this was going to complicate their participation, if the country gives asylum to Machar, who is still determined to wage armed struggle.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir removed Machar from his position and replaced him with his former lead negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, as the country’s first vice president, citing his prolonged absence.

Machar is also experiencing difficulties with his political activities in Sudan after authorities stopped him from holding a press conference in Khartoum following a week-long leadership meeting that explored the ongoing political crisis in South Sudan.

Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman said Machar was in Khartoum for treatment and would not be permitted to conduct political activities.

He, however, said Khartoum was waiting for the implementation of the security arrangements so that Machar returns to South Sudan.

Machar vowed he would only to return to the South Sudanese capital, after the deployment of the regional protection force, which Juba appears to be reluctant to accept as a boost to the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in the young nation.

According to a UN Security Council resolution, the protection force is supposed to act as a buffer between President Kiir’s soldiers and those of Machar as well as secure humanitarian supply lines and key installations.

September 27, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan on Monday urged Khartoum to ban political and media activities of SPLM-IO leader and former First Vice President Riek Machar.

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South Sudanese ambassador in Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal

On Monday, South Sudan’s Ambassador to Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal, said he was surprised to see the Sudanese government allowing Machar to declare war against his government.

Machar ’’cannot declare war on the South Sudan’s government from Khartoum,’’ Waal said.

“We were surprised because when Machar arrived to Khartoum it was on the pretext of humanitarian propaganda. Also, a week ago, Khartoum said it would not allow Machar to exercise any media or political activity. However from 20 to 23 September Machar held a meeting for his group in Khartoum, ” he said

“Now we have all the meeting papers and recommendations, Khartoum is the place of meeting indicated in the documents, which are signed by Machar himself,” he added..

The South Sudanese diplomat went further to say that Khartoum is misleading Juba when it pledges to restrict the activities of the opposition leader.

“This means that Khartoum is fooling us,” he said.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has anticipated the South Sudanese accusations and declared his government would not allow the armed opposition to attack the neighboring country from Sudan.

He further stressed that his government is supporting regional efforts to bring peace in the South Sudan.

AMBASSADOR DEMANDS PROTECTION

In a separate development, Ambassador Waal said he has asked the Sudanese government to provide police bodyguards to protect him, pointing that he feels unsafe in Khartoum.

“I have sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting providing personal protection and we wait the feedback,” he said .

Last Saturday, the ambassador was attacked by some South Sudanese while he was shopping in Khartoum’s down town.

The diplomat pointed that he only feels safe inside the embassy which is protected by police.

when reached by Sudan tribune for comment, Foreign Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ambassador Gharib Allah Khidir said said that the request of the South Sudanese ambassador request is “normal’’.

“Any diplomat who feels unsafe requests the ministry of foreign affairs to protect his diplomatic mission and residence,” he said without further details on the response of his government to this demand.

(ST)

South Sudan army ready to move on rebels

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The South Sudanese army will expels rebels fighting its northern neighbour once it receives directives from the high command, the military spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang said.

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Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, SPLA spokesperson, is seen at a containment site outside of the capital Juba on April 14, 2016. (AFP Photo)

Speaking exclusively toSudan Tribune on Wednesday, Koang said the army implements whatever orders came from its top leadership.

“We are waiting for the commands before we as the army can take drastic measures. We are an army, we do implement what the top leadership decides,” observed the SPLA spokesperson.

He said the visit, last month, by the South Sudanese First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, to the Sudanese capital Khartoum aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the two former war foes.

Sudan, according to Koang, requested Juba to expel members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) fighters from its territories.

As part of the recent agreement between the two countries, the SPLA armies are on standby to respond to any orders made by its top leadership to expel Sudanese rebels from South Sudan, he stressed.

Juba had, in the past, been accused by Khartoum of harbouring rebels fighting the Sudanese regime, allegations the latter dismissed.

Series of accusations between the two nations forced Sudan to close its borders with South Sudan in the aftermath of the latter’s secession from the former following the January 2011 referendum.

In 2012, North and South Sudan agreed that neither country would host rebel groups considered hostile to each other’s establishments.

The Sudanese government recently said it had received assurances from South Sudan’s First Vice President that all rebels opposed to Khartoum will be expelled from South Sudan’s territory within 21 days.

(ST)

South Sudan – government sets new conditions after accepting protection force

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan sets new conditions after accepting deployment of protection force


UN peacekeeper keeps watch inside a Protection of Civilians sites, in Juba as a UN Security Council delegation meets with the IDPs on 3 September 2016 (UNMISS Photo)

September 6, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has come out with contradicting statements less one day after reaching a consensus with the members of the United Nations Security Council to deploy a protection force from countries in the region. The government has instead said it would only accept such deployment if troops contributing countries would not be from the regional countries with which it shares immediate borders.

Presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, said in a statement that it was made clear during the meeting with the delegation of the United Nations Security Council that the South Sudanese government would not accept deployment of troops from countries sharing immediate borders with the young nation “because they have interests in the country.”

“The Security Council agreed to take into consideration the position of the Government of South Sudan that the troops contributing countries must be countries other than our immediate neighbours, meaning the six bordering countries to South Sudan must not be part of troops contributing countries. And this came on the line that some of our neighbouring countries have already developed conflicting interests,” said Ateny.

Both Uganda, which is allied to President Kiir’s government and fought on its side for two years, and Sudan, which is accused of supporting Riek Machar’s faction, had earlier declared that they would not be part of the troops contributing countries. However, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and any other country in the region would contribute troops.

It was not clear which other country in the region the government did not like and was targeting. The government did not also bring up the matter as a concern during the talks with the United Nations Security Council members in Juba who discussed the deployment with President Kiir.

Ateny however explained that the circumstance under which the government made a compromise was because of interest of forging a better working relationship with the United Nations Security Council and larger international community and in compliance with its earlier commitment during the IGAD Extraordinary Summit in the aftermath of the July events at which two armed forces clashed at the presidential palace in Juba.

The United Nations Security Council, he said, also agreed that the troops contributing countries and the leadership of the United Nations mission in the country and government of South Sudan will continue to work out modalities of the deployment, building upon the consultations of 25 August and 1 September, 2016, respectively, where further discussions were anticipated.

“That means nothing is fully concluded without such consultations in place,” Ateny warned.

Other government officials, including information minister explained that the “consent” which the government has given means that it has agreed in “principle” to the deployment of foreign troops but not necessarily “acceptance unconditionally.”

Minister Michael Makuei Lueth argued during a press conference on Monday that the consent was given by the government to enable discussions to take place between the United Nations mission in the country, the army, and other stakeholders in order to work out modalities.

On Monday, the Associated Press (AP) quoted minister Lueth as also announcing dramatic limits on a 4,000-strong new peacekeeping force, saying anyone who enters without consent is an “invader.”

“4,000 is the ceiling, but we are not duty-bound. We can even agree on 10,” Lueth said.

The statement challenges the agreement reached between the government and the visiting UN Security Council after meeting President Salva Kiir on Sunday and emerged with a joint statement accepting the new UN mandated regional protection force.

Cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro, told reporters the government must first agree on the number of troops, the countries they come from and the arms they will carry.

The regional force has a specific mandate to protect civilians, vital installations and safeguard humanitarian activities.

Both civilians and foreigners, including relief workers, were targeted in the chaos by South Sudanese soldiers who raped women and girls, conducted mock executions and forced people at one hotel compound to watch a local journalist be shot dead.

The visiting Security Council diplomats met with civilians who pleaded for the new protection force.

“I want this country to be peaceful so my children can go back to school,” AP quoted Rebecca Julio, a mother of four.

The Security Council’s members visited the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in both Juba and Wau, where the IDPs told stories of horrors, accusing government’s forces of killing and torturing people and raping their women and girls.

The Council also met with the chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), Festus Mogae, who leads the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.

The UN Security Council members also met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the Ethiopian Premier, Hailemariam Desalegn, and discussed the deployment of the regional troops to Juba. Desalegn, who chairs IGAD assured the Council’s members that chiefs of staffs of respective armies in the region were making preparations to deploy the forces to Juba “soon.”

Analysts and observers are keen to say the shift from the language of the communiqué by the South Sudanese government officials is an attempt to allay fears from senior government officials who accuse president Kiir and some of his moderates of having allegedly betrayed them after sponsoring demonstrations to oppose the troops’ deployment.

(ST)

South Sudan to agree to more UN troops top avoid arms embargo

Reuters

By Michelle Nichols | JUBA

The government of South Sudan agreed on Sunday to accept 4,000 extra peacekeepers in a bid to avoid an arms embargo threatened by the United Nations Security Council, but said the details of the deployment were still being discussed.

The announcement came after a meeting in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, between President Salva Kiir and the U.N. Security Council, led by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.

The 15-member council last month authorized the deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission already on the ground, known as UNMISS. It threatened to consider an arms embargo if Kiir’s government did not cooperate.

“To improve the security situation the Transitional Government of National Unity gave its consent to the deployment, as part of UNMISS, of the regional protection force,” the South Sudanese government and the Security Council said in a joint communique.

The countries contributing troops to the force, UNMISS and the government would “continue to work through the modalities of deployment,” the statement said.

East African regional bloc IGAD pushed for a regional protection force and has pledged to provide the troops. South Sudan Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomoro, said the government had no objection to who contributes soldiers.

The council authorized the new force following several days of heavy fighting involving tanks and helicopters in Juba in July between troops loyal to Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar. The violence raised fears of a return to full scale civil war in the world’s newest nation.

In the resolution, the council pledged to discuss imposing a possible arms embargo on South Sudan if U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports back in mid-September that the government was not cooperating on the force and was obstructing the work of peacekeepers on the ground.

“The Transitional Government of National Unity commits to permit free movement to UNMISS in conformity with its mandate, including to protect civilians,” according to the statement on Sunday.

The government and the peacekeeping force will come up with “concrete steps to remove impediments to UNMISS’ ability to implement its mandate.”

U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in South Sudan since 2011, when the country gained independence from Sudan.

Political rivalry between Kiir and Machar sparked a civil war in 2013, but while the pair signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, fighting has continued and Machar fled the country after the eruption of violence in July.

“The challenge now is to make sure that a piece of paper becomes operationalized,” Power told reporters after meeting Kiir. “Now we have to turn it into steps to improve life for people in great need.”

The government and the Security Council agreed “that the humanitarian and security needs of the people were paramount.”

(Reporting By Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken)