Tag Archives: Salva Kiir

South Sudan – government rejects additional 4,000 UN troops

Al Jazeera

More than 12,000 UN peacekeeping mission troops have been in South Sudan since it gained independence in 2011 [File: EPA]

South Sudan has announced it will no longer accept the deployment of an additional 4,000 United Nations peacekeepers, saying the security situation in the county has improved.

The regional protection force, authorised by the UN Security Council in August after renewed fighting in the capital, Juba, is meant to strengthen the 13,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan

UN dismisses South Sudan peacekeeping force chief

“The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a … protection force,” South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Mawien Makol Ariik said on Wednesday.

The government’s move is a reversal of its earlier decision in November to accept the troops’ deployment.

Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk also said there was no need for the regional protection forces to be deployed in South Sudan.

“Most of the people abroad still believe that there is fighting in Juba and around the country … but Juba is now secure,” Juuk told DPA news agency.


READ MORE: South Sudan accepts 4,000 more UN peacekeepers


Juuk’s remarks contradict reports of recent fighting in the north and south of the country.

The South Sudanese government had warned in August 2016 that the deployment of more UN forces would marginalise its sovereignty, but later gave its consent amid the threat of an arms embargo.

In December, a UN human rights commission urged a rapid deployment of the additional peacekeepers amid reports of ethnic killings.

A political split between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and more than two million displaced.

A unity government was formed in April, but fighting broke out again in July, sending Machar into exile.

The UN’s top human rights official has previously blamed South Sudanese government troops and rebels loyal to the president of ethnically targeted violations, including extrajudicial executions and sexual violence incidences in August 2015.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has previously faced criticism for failing to fully protect civilians facing violence.

In early November, Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary-general, dismissedthe commander of the UNMISS force following a damning report that accused the peacekeepers of failing to protect civilians during the outbreak of violence in July.

The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UNMISS ended in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the heavy fighting in the capital, Juba, from July 8 to 11 that killed dozens of people.

UN accused of giving arms to South Sudanese rebel commander before massacre

Washington Post

December 15 at 4:03 PM
The U.N. mission in South Sudan gave weapons to a top rebel general just weeks after civil war began three years ago, and his forces went on to carry out one of the war’s worst atrocities, according to a report released Thursday.

The Small Arms Survey, a ­Geneva-based research group, found that in December 2013
U.N. officials in the town of Bentiu in northern Unity state handed dozens of weapons, as well as ammunition, to rebel general James Koang.

Four months later, Koang’s troops killed hundreds of civilians sheltering in a mosque and a hospital in Bentiu, according to the United Nations and human rights groups. Koang has said in interviews that those killed were not civilians but members of a pro-government militia. The report did not say whether the weapons given by the United Nations were used in the massacre.

U.N. officials in South Sudan and New York did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the allegations.

South Sudan’s war, which entered its fourth year Thursday, has pitted soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against those backing the former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer. Tens of thousands of people have died in battles that have played out along ethnic lines, and U.N. officials and human rights groups have accused both sides of committing crimes against humanity. A top U.N. human rights official recently warned that the country is on the verge of “all-out ethnic civil war” that could result in genocide.

U.N. warned of possible ‘all-out ethnic civil war’ in South Sudan

Members of the UN Human Rights Council were warned on Dec. 14, that inter-ethnic violence in South Sudan could degenerate into a “Rwanda-like” genocide. (UNTV)

The United Nations established a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in 2011 that has grown to more than 13,000 soldiers and police officers.

Throughout the war, the U.N. mission has found itself caught in the crossfire, accused by each side of supporting the other, with U.N. bases at times coming under attack. U.N. investigations, aid groups and research groups have accused the U.N. mission of failing to adequately protect civilians, including people on and near its bases.

According to the new report, U.N. officials in South Sudan said in interviews that they gave about 80 assault rifles, five machine guns, grenades and ammunition to Koang. At the time, U.N. officials in Bentiu reported to the mission’s headquarters in Juba that there had been a transfer of 40 rifles, the report said. It quoted an unidentified rebel, meanwhile, as saying they received 500 guns from the United Nations.

The weapons came from soldiers and civilians who fled to the U.N. base in Bentiu for protection during the fighting and handed over their weapons to peacekeepers, according to the report.

Koang, a soft-spoken Nuer who was the top government military official in Bentiu when the war began, quickly defected and took control of Bentiu. He asked the United Nations to give him the guns, according to the report. U.N. officials complied, apparently because they considered the general a friend, the report said.

“When [James] Koang took power, we all knew him,” said one unidentified official from the U.N. mission in South Sudan who was quoted in the report. “The majority of the opposition leaders in Bentiu had been our usual interlocutors. We had even trained them.”

The report said that U.N. officials in Bentiu asked their bosses in the capital for guidance on the matter but none came, so they made their own decision. A subsequent request by Koang for more weapons was turned down, it said.

The United Nations and the U.S. government have imposed sanctions on Koang, with the U.S. Treasury Department saying that his rebels had “targeted civilians, including women and children, with killing, sexual violence and attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, and locations where civilians were seeking refuge.”

Meanwhile, the chief of the U.N. mission in South Sudan at the start of the war, Hilde Johnson, tried to give the government in Juba weapons that had been collected from Nuer who had fled to a U.N. base there after government soldiers went door-to-door executing Nuer citizens, according to the report.

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York overruled Johnson, the report said, citing a cable sent to her from the headquarters. After Johnson stepped down in July 2014, her successor destroyed the weapons, the report said.

The Small Arms Survey report said the episodes reveal how the U.N. mission, known as UNMISS, struggled to maintain unified command and control and to understand that the South Sudanese officials on both sides who they had worked with before the crisis were now liable to commit atrocities.

The two cases show that ­“UNMISS failed to adapt quickly enough to the changed circumstances provoked by the conflict, and that it lacked neutrality,” the report said. “Both issues also show that the conflict triggered divisions within UNMISS” over which forces to support.

The South Sudan government still accuses the U.N. mission of supporting the rebels, in part because some 200,000 mostly Nuer people are staying at U.N. bases for fear of attack by government forces. The government has not presented evidence to back such accusations. People on the bases are also critical of U.N. peacekeepers, accusing them of standing by or running away when Kiir’s troops have sprayed bullets inside.

South Sudan – President Kiir set to establish more states

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, will soon issue another controversial order to increase the number of states from 28 states to undisclosed number, according to his second deputy and longtime ally.

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South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, delivers a speech in the capital, Juba, on 10 June 2013 (Reuters)

Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Vice President, James Wani Igga, flanked by the controversially newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, said the presidency has agreed to increase the number of states but will soon start with the issue of Malakal and Lol state as the first priority.

Malakal, is a contested capital between West Nile and East Nile states, but which was given to the East Nile by the presidential decree in October last year. Lol is another controversial state in Bahr el Ghazal region.

The two places, according to the Vice President in a statement broadcast by the state owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), are where communities have protested either splits, asserting the order had divided their communities or have been annexed to communities with whom they share nothing in common in that they would prefer to remain alone.

“We have resolved and agreed to increase the number of states but the first thing is the issue of Raja and Malakal. A committee has been formed under the First Vice President and this committee will have to complete their work and report back to the President within seven days,” revealed Vice President, Igga.

He did not say how many more states will be added to the already controversial 28 states.

The two issues the presidency had discussed and resolved, he further added, were the reinstatement of the civil servants who either abandoned their positions or rebelled, either in Juba or in the states, when the conflict erupted in 2013.

The other issue was the issue of cantonment sites for the opposition forces of the SPLA-IO. Two cantonment sites, he said, will be in central Equatoria, one in Eastern Equatoria and another in Western Equatoria.

(ST)

South Sudan – Machar pledges to return home

Sudan Tribune

(KAMPALA) – South Sudan’s former first Vice-President, Riek Machar has vowed a return to the country, months after violent clashes forced him out of the capital, Juba.

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Machar speaks on a mobile phone after an interview with Reuters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi July 8, 2015

In an interview on BBC’s Hard talk programme, Machar said he was optimistic of negotiating a peace deal with South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

“I’m going to return to South Sudan,” he said from South Africa, adding, “Because President Salva Kiir doesn’t want democratic and transparent and fair elections to be conducted, he attacked us, he has restarted the war.”

Machar’s forces and those loyal to President Kiir clashed in Juba on the eve of the country’s Independence Day, leaving over 200 dead. The incident forced the rebel leader out of Juba, to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Khartoum for treatment.

Renewed violence in the young nation, aid agencies say, has forced over 100,000 civilians to flee into South Sudan’s neighbouring nations.

Machar, a signatory to the now fragile peace deal that led to formation of a coalition government, urged regional and African leaders to help in the restoration of South Sudan’s peace process.

“But I am hoping that wise leaders in the region, and in Africa and the rest of the world will throw up a political process which will bring about peace again, and the resuscitation of the peace agreement, and the reconstitution of the transitional government of national unity,” he told the London-based station.

The rebel leader said he was not warmonger, stressing that his troops only defended themselves against attacks from government forces.

KIIR CONDITIONS MACHAR’S RETURN

President Kiir said Machar would only be allowed to return to the young nation if he denounces violence and allows the current coalition government to implement the 2015 peace agreement.

“The region should stand with the transitional government of national unity to implement the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the republic of South Sudan. This was the agreement they [regional leaders and friends] made themselves despite our observations but we accepted because we wanted peace and stability in this country,” Kiir said Saturday.

He added, “And I believe the events of July should themselves be proof of concerns which South Sudanese were raising. If they want this agreement to be implemented, they should allow the current first vice president and his team to work with me and other leaders ready to cooperate to implement this agreement.”

The South Sudanese leader was speaking at an occasion he hosted at his residence. A number of with senior cabinet members, security and high-ranking military officers attended the event, a few days after rumour spread that the president had “died”.

President Kiir relieved Machar of his post, appointing the rebel’s ex-chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai as the first Vice President in South Sudan’s interim government.

Machar has, however, described Gai’s appointment as “illegal”.

The opposition leader has called for rapid deployment of the African Union-approved regional forces in order to salvage the peace agreement signed in August 2015.

(ST)

South Sudan – 60 killed in fighting in last week

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

Fighting in South Sudan killed at least 60 people this week, the military said on Friday, stoking fears the region could plunge back into full-scale war.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang accused the rebels of “burning civilians, maiming women and child abductions and setting ablaze properties”.

Armed men loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar killed 11 government soldiers and 28 civilians from Saturday to Thursday, Koang said in a press statement. Twenty-one rebels were also killed, he said.

A spokesman for the rebels denied the accusations.

“Those who are committing atrocities and raping are deserted SPLA (government) soldiers who have not been paid for several months and their families are starving. Our forces are aiming to target only those in uniforms,” the deputy spokesman for the opposition forces, Dickson Gatluak, told Reuters by phone from Ethiopia.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, sank into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, sacked Machar, a Nuer, from his position as vice president. Subsequent fighting often followed ethnic lines and human rights groups say both sides targeted civilians.

A peace pact in 2015 ostensibly ended the fighting but has frequently been violated. Major clashes broke out again in July. Machar fled the country and is seeking medical treatment in South Africa. He has been replaced as vice president by General Taban Deng Gai.

The government wants the international community to designate the rebels as terrorists and take punitive measures against them.

Koang said that could include “travel bans, asset freeze and extradition to ICC of key players including … Riek Machar.” The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) tries suspects accused of war crimes and genocide.

On Monday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it had received reports of horrific attacks on civilians, including some who were burned to death, and urged both sides to control their forces.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld, editing by Larry King/Mark Heinrich)

South Sudan – UN chief on lack of progress on more peacekeepers

Reuters

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS

A pledge by South Sudan’s government to allow the deployment of more U.N. peacekeepers and to improve access for U.N. troops already on the ground in a bid to avoid an arms embargo is yet to translate into action, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.

President Salva Kiir agreed during a U.N. Security Council visit to South Sudan last month to accept 4,000 extra peacekeepers and to allow some 12,000 peacekeepers already on the ground to move around freely in order to protect civilians.

In an August resolution – after heavy fighting in July in the capital, Juba – the 15-member council had threatened to consider a possible arms embargo within five days of a report by Ban that Kiir’s government was not fulfilling both measures.

In a letter to the council on Monday, seen by Reuters, Ban said “while the public commitments and relative improvements … are a welcome sign, it will take some time to evaluate whether these commitments translate into improved freedom of movement on the ground or amount to business as usual.”

It was not immediately clear if Ban’s letter would trigger a consideration by the council of an arms embargo on South Sudan.

Political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, sparked a civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines. The pair signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, but fighting has continued and Machar fled the country after the July violence. He is now in Khartoum.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

Ban said that, while the deployment of more peacekeepers and the improvement of access for U.N. troops and aid workers already on the ground “would help alleviate some of the suffering of the people of South Sudan, they will not resolve the conflict.”

He said the war was “a direct result of serious shortcomings in governance and the instrumentalization of ethnicity to further political objectives” and expressed concern about a recent call to arms by Machar.

Ban said Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda had agreed to provide peacekeepers for the 4,000-strong regional protection force, charged with enforcing peace in Juba and protecting the airport and other key facilities, but that the South Sudanese government had not yet given its approval.

Ban said a note verbale had been sent to the South Sudanese mission to the United Nations in New York, naming the troop-contributing countries and stating that, if a response was not received from Kiir’s government by Sept. 26, the United Nations would begin preparing the deployment.

However, the South Sudanese government said it never received the note verbale from its mission and that “the lack of a response could therefore not be considered as consenting to the deployment of the aforementioned troops.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Paul Tait)

South Sudan – Lam Akol forms new movement

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s former minister of agriculture minister, Lam Akol, has formed a new rebel faction after spending several weeks of consultations with different unarmed and armed opposition parties in the country.

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Lam Akol, chairman of South Sudan’s main opposition party (AFP/Samir Bol Photo)

Akol, according to a statement issued over the weekend and extended to Sudan Tribune has named the new rebel group as National Democratic Movement (NDM) and said that his aim is to overthrow by all means the government of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir.

“The National Democratic Movement was born to wage the struggle, together with others in the field, against the totalitarian, corrupt and ethnocentric regime in Juba that is bent on dragging our country into the abyss,” the statement reads in part.

Akol, who previously chaired the Democratic Change Party (DCP) said he resigned and left the party last month because the members and the other leaders of the DCP believed in peaceful dialogue and non-violence as the only means to bring about change in South Sudan.

He described his new rebel faction as a front bringing together the social and democratic political forces as well as civil society activists, who want the political discourse in the country to be centred on the “transformation of the centuries-old conditions of extreme poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and cultural backwardness of the masses of our people.”

The movement, it explained, is founded on the principles and concept of national democratic revolution based on the core values of freedom, equality, justice and fraternity, and solidarity anchored in historical and philosophical perspectives. These values, it stressed, translate into fundamental rights and freedoms as provided for in the UN Conventions of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The political statement of the NDM set out in details what the NDM stands for and how to rid the people of the totalitarian ethnocentric regime in Juba and replace it with a pro-people inclusive government.

“It must be clear from the outset, the NDM is not just for change of personalities in Juba to replace them with others of the same feathers; it is out for a radical change in the country that will bring about genuine state-building and nation-building,” it emphasized.

He also said his new faction will closely work with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

It is not clear from whether the prominent politician will get military forces for his new faction.

(ST)