Tag Archives: SPLA

South Sudan – mounting calls for investigation of atrocities

Sudan Tribune

(ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations Human Rights office has called for an independent body to investigate crimes committed during the more than three-year conflict in South Sudan.

JPEG - 157.1 kb
A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 3 July 2015 – (UN Photo)

A three-member commission made the call during a three-day workshop on transitional justice in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“An independent mechanism is needed to immediately assist in investigating violations in South Sudan, in advance of the establishment of the hybrid court,” said Yasmin Sooka, chair of the U.N-mandated commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

The Human Rights Council, she urged, should immediately establish a specialised mechanism to map and document conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan with a specific emphasis on command and superior responsibility.

“Too many of those who say ‘justice should only come later’ really mean ‘justice should never come at all,” said Sooka.

“It is imperative to immediately start collecting evidence of violations even before the hybrid court is established,” she added.

Commissioner Ken Scott on his part, however, said investigations needed to start now so that the hybrid court has cases to hear.

“Critical evidence is being lost every day as witnesses are killed or disappear, as memories fade and physical evidence degrades”, he said.

During a visit to South Sudan in December last year, members of the commission reported that the level of sexual violence in the young nation had reached epic proportions and required urgent attention.

The Commission was established in March 2016, by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and tasked with, among other mandates, monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and making recommendations for its improvement.

On 14 March 2017, the U.N Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan will present its report on the human rights situation and make recommendations on accountability to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We will be calling for an international, independent, investigative mechanism for South Sudan to be set up,” said Sooka.

“It should be well-resourced to collect evidence on the ground, focusing primarily on the most recent serious crimes,” she stressed.

Chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) calls for the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan, tasked to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing the responsibility for violations of international law.

(ST)

South Sudan deploys troops to oil area to,prepare for resumption of production

Sudan Tribune

February 16, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan has deployed more troops in preparation for the resumption oil production in areas where activities were halted as a result of the December 2013 outbreak of conflict, which badly affected production in Unity state and parts of the Upper Nile region.


A worker walks through an oil production facility in Paloch in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, on 5 May 2013 (Photo: Hannah Mcneish/AFP)

The head of Nilepet, the country’s national oil company, disclosed Thursday that government hopes production resumes after preparations are fully completed.
“The government is doing the best to ensure that there is adequate protection at the sites where oil production would resume soon in unity. Preparations are underway,” said Machar Ader Achiek.
“The security forces are on the ground to provide adequate security and to ensure the safety of the oil workers and operators”, he added.
Local authorities, Achiek said, have started sensitising communities around the area to embrace peaceful dialogue and to help government at their level to bolster security at oil installations at Tharjiath field and other sites.
“Oil is a national resource and it is when it is extracted that the government can now be able to provide services to the people. If extraction is affected, the delivery of the basic services is also affected. So the resumption of the oil production is in the interest of both the government and the communities from where it is extracted,” explained Achiek.
He added, “This is why protection of oil sites requires cooperation from the communities”.
The Sudanese government, according to the head of the state-owned oil entity, agreed to provide electricity from Heglig and to work collaboratively with the south Sudanese authorities to protect oil workers engaged in production.
Northern Liech state information minister, Lam Tungwar said the state government will do its best to help the national government provide protection to workers in the oil fields as requested by the minister of petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, when he visited the newly-created state last month.
Since its independence, South Sudan has relied on oil for all income—a situation that has significantly compounded ongoing political and economic instability due to fall in crude oil prices.
According to South Sudanese officials, production in the past reached as high as 350,000 bpd but fell after a dispute with Sudan over fees for pumping South Sudan’s crude through Sudan’s export pipeline, which led Juba to halt production in 2012.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to the ongoing pricing disputes.

South Sudan – fresh clashes near Malakal oil hub

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

Fresh clashes broke out around South Sudan’s second-largest city of Malakal on Tuesday, a rebel spokesman and a government official said, the latest turn in the struggle for the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile region.

The United Nations said Malakal, on the banks of the White Nile near the country’s northern border with Sudan, was largely deserted after civilians fled the fighting.

“The rebels had been trying to provoke the SPLA all this time because the SPLA has been given instruction not to wage offensives against the rebel forces,” said military spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol, using the acronym for the military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“This is in line with the call by the president for the national dialogue,” he added, referring to a presidential directive on dealing with the rebels.

But rebel spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said government troops launched several attacks on rebel positions early on Tuesday.

“In the fight this morning, Juba regime suffered heavy losses in human and material, as bodies of the Juba regime soldiers lie everywhere,” he said in a press statement.

Neither Chol nor Deng had casualty figures.

Civil war broke out in 2013 in South Sudan after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy president, Riek Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group.

An internationally brokered ceasefire returned Machar to his position but broke down in July after a gunfight between the two sides in the capital. Machar and some of his fighters fled the country on foot in August, pursued by helicopter gunships.

Sporadic fighting between the rebels and government forces broke out in Malakal a week ago, forcing officials to close the airport. On Friday, Chol told Reuters that 10 rebels had been killed in fighting in Ditang, near Malakal.

The area around the city is a stronghold of Johnson Olony, a militia leader from the Shilluk ethnic group who was appointed an army general when he agreed to join the government in 2013. In April 2015, he announced he was deserting the military to join the rebels.

The civil war has driven more than 3 million people from their homes.

(Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

South Sudan – army and rebels clash in Upper Nile

Sudan Tribune

January 26, 2017 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese army (SPLA) official claimed on Thursday that its forces clashed with the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO) loyal to the country’s former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

JPEG - 21.8 kb
A member of South Sudanese rebel patrols the streets of Malakal, on March 4, 2014 (Photo AFP/Andrei Pungovschi)

The acting SPLA spokesman, Santo Domic Chol claimed the two rival forces clashed near Malakal, the Upper Nile state capital.

Chol told the Associated Press that government forces were attacked Wednesday by militias under Johnson Olony’s command.

He neither gave details on the exact location where the clashes occurred nor unveil information on any casualties from the incident.

Olony could not, however, be reached for a comment.

Local officials told Sudan Tribune they heard sounds of gunfire from the direction of Lul area, which is located north of Malakal town.

Residents did not know the source of the gunfire or those involved.

“We heard sounds of guns in the morning at around 11:30 am. It was not heavy change of gunfire. We heard twice and it stopped. We don’t know who was involved or what caused the shooting. We don’t know whether it is a clash between the government and rebel forces or it was just normal shooting by some government soldiers or police personnel,” a state lawmaker said.

The U.N. mission in South Sudan, which runs a base in the area, is yet to confirm the incident. Some of its staff, however, say the area has been relatively calm since the beginning of the year.

South Sudan has experience violence since December 2013 when political disagreements between President Salva Kiir and Machar saw the nation split along ethnic lines. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst ever outbreak of violence since independence from neighbouring Sudan.

(ST)

 

South Sudan – government denies SP_LA clash with pro-Machar rebels in Equatoria

Sudan Tribune

January 25, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan army (SPLA) has denied it clashed with armed opposition forces under the leadership and overall command of the former vice president, Riek Machar. However the UNMISS confirmed the violence.

JPEG - 26 kb
South Sudanese SPLA soldiers in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)

Acting SPLA spokesman told Sudan Tribune he has no reports indicating government soldiers clashed with rebels but received reports of criminals and high way robbers stormed a village in Magwi county in Eastern Equatori with intention to loot from the civilians before running away when government soldiers arrive to the area.

“I have not received such reports. This is just another strategy by making propaganda to show that they are in the area. What I have learned is that there were criminals who entered one of the villages in Magwi County on January 22, 2017. Their intention was to loot from local population but they fled when our forces were alerted and went to the area,” said Colonel Santo Dominic when reached on Tuesday to comment on the matter.

The government military spokesman was reacting to a statement in which the spokesman of armed opposition claimed the positions of their forces came under attack in several places in Eastern Equatoria but they repulsed the government forces during a clash in which six pro government militiamen were killed.

The SPLM-Io spokesperson William Gatjiath Deng said government forces on Sunday morning they drove back a government force that moved from Magwi and attacked and burned down Acholi villages, including Licari, on Magwi-Pajok road.

“While still on their way to pillage to the villages and commit additional atrocities in the Magwi area, the SPLA-IO Anyanya division forces under the command of Major General Patrick Ohiti Chapuho ambushed them, killing six (soldiers),” he said.

He also claimed their forces in division 3 under Maj.General Tut Riik have regained control of Nordeng area under Nasir state in Upper Nile region, which government forces had allegedly taken from them last week.

“On the same Sunday January 22, 2017, more than 18 regime soldiers who attempted to attack the gallant SPLA-IO positions in and around Yei were ambushed. After the ambush, the gallant SPLA-IO forces under sector 8, division 2B pursued the ruthless regime soldiers toward Yei town”, he adds.

UN CONFIRMS CLASHES
However, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Wednesday that the UN Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS) received reports about clashes in Central and Eastern Equatoria provinces.

“UNMISS has received reports of fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition in Central Equatoria on Sunday. It is also following up on reports of civilians killed and displaced towards the border areas, he said”.

He added that the Mission has also received reports of clashes in Obbo Payam in Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria over the weekend and is seeking to verify reports of civilian casualties.

(ST)

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.

The genocidal logic of South Sudan’s “gun class”

IRIN

Alan BoswellTwitter

A researcher on South Sudan’s conflict based in Nairobi, Boswell is exploring the country’s birth and collapse

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 with ethnic cleansing in the capital, Juba, committed by a government put in power by external brokering aimed at paving the way for the world’s newest nation.

This South Sudan political experiment lasted two and a half years. Its bloody collapse continues, a slow-motion calamity on a par with any crisis in the world.

Last week, the UN special adviser on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, declared South Sudan at risk of genocide. The sudden focus is warranted but tardy. Some estimate that South Sudan’s death toll rivals Syria’s. But the atrocities described now in South Sudan’s Equatoria region — charred bodies in torched villages, gang rape, depopulation as a tool of war, and political violence waged against perceived ethnopolitical blocs — has characterised the war since its inception.

In the beginning, many observers performed mental gymnastics to downplay the ugly ethnic nature of South Sudan’s war. The new concerns over genocide risk reversing that mistake, casting the violence as chiefly ethnic, not political. Both miss the mark. In a South Sudan where political might flows up from mobilised ethnic enclaves, politics is ethnopolitics, and the ethnic tension is politically driven by the “King of the Hill” logic of a crude state formation.

This year I witnessed a Shilluk ethnic defense militia march new graduates to war with songs against the Dinka, after the government annexed traditional land to a neighboring Dinka state. I landed in Wau, a historically diverse provincial town, to emptied streets patrolled by Dinka soldiers after a Dinka militia avenged a Fertit rebel attack by torching a Ferit neighbourhood. At an abandoned medical research facility deep in the forest of Western Equatoria, a Zande rebel leader derided the Zande governor, simply, as “Dinka” — the height, for the rebel, of all insults.

Origins

South Sudan’s ethnopolitical war is rooted in the flaws of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which installed a non-representative and ethnically fractured party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, in charge of a future country it never won over. Many South Sudanese militias, some more representative of political constituencies than others, successfully resisted the SPLM throughout the war. But peace brokers crowned SPLM the winner.

Nyakong, 22, has been hiding in a village near Nasir, South Sudan, and surviving off cow's milk for months. The village is unsafe, but the floodwaters are too high to bring her three young children to Leitchuor refugee camp in Ethiopia.
C. Tijerina/UNHCR
The victims of a state unraveling

The SPLM’s lack of monopolised or legitimised rule rendered South Sudan a failed state before birth. This is the origin of South Sudan’s derided “gun class”: without a state, politics is war. Rather than address this structural timebomb head-on, the 2005 CPA peace accord perversely incentivised SPLM leaders to latch hold of external sovereignty instead of legitimising its rule. Patchwork patronage coupled with crude collective punishment held the state together, but reinforced South Sudan’s ethnopolitical lines.

This fractured state did not withstand its first power dispute. Riek Machar, South Sudan’s vice president, a Nuer, challenged President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, for SPLM leadership, and Kiir sacked him.

Riek’s “antics”, Justice Ambrose Riny Thiik, who leads an influential Dinka nationalist lobby, told me, “sent waves through the Jieng (Dinka) community”. Anyone who wants to lead South Sudan “must be someone that can win [the] support of our community”, South Sudan’s largest, he maintained. “So we joined together, all the Jieng communities of Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile.”

A Dinka paramilitary force secretly arrived in Juba, and its sudden ethnic cleansing campaign forced the ethnic Nuer out of South Sudan’s political space and into armed rebellion and exile. South Sudanese got the message: In South Sudan, ethnicity trumps citizenship. If so, one could barely construct an entity more ripe for mass atrocities than South Sudan’s weak ethnocratic rule over militarily fractured zones of ethnopolitical control.

The Nuer mobilised in vengeance, raiding towns and slaughtering Dinka in retaliation. Kiir relied increasingly on Dinka nationalism to wage the war and mobilise recruits. Political patronage dried up. Kiir’s political base narrowed further.

Celebrating independence in 2011
UN Photo/Paul Banks
Celebrating independence, at war two and a half years later

Where now?

The war widened with the August 2015 peace deal, which granted Machar an official opposition army. National recruitment into Machar’s force surged in new strongholds, a perverted but predictable effect of the accord’s provisions. Unaligned militias, like the Arrow Boys in Western Equatoria, loosely joined Machar’s now-official opposition, and mobilisation efforts in Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal picked up.

A similar descent into war repeated itself across the country: rebel mobilisation sparks government hostility. Dinka security officers detain young men; some disappear. Civilians flee the garrison towns to the countryside. Broad retaliation follows rebel raids; more Dinka reinforcements arrive, reinforcing a sense of ethnocratic occupation. Isolated garrison towns suddenly float in seas of hostility. The government, increasingly, resorts to draining the sea.

This sea is now lapping up to the shores of Juba, which is within Equatoria. South Sudan is not Sudan or Syria; no rump state exists. The war is increasingly existential. If the history of mass atrocities should tell us anything: beware the desperate, not just the strong. Thus far, in the brutal logic of South Sudan’s war, all sides become weaker and weaker, more and more vulnerable.

South Sudan’s ethnopolitical crisis requires an ethnopolitical solution. The solution to the winner-take-all struggle is not a new winner-take-all election between armed parties. Nor will South Sudanese give up their arms until the political crisis is resolved. This only appears a chicken-or-egg predicament if one assumes South Sudan must be built top-down in a repeat of failed statebuilding models. South Sudanese voted for liberation. Instead, they are stuck in the violent spiral of a state collapse into bloody ethnopolitics waged over a centre created by peace brokers and statebuilders. Many flee. Others won’t, or can’t. The world will watch.

When Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk first sought shelter with the UN in Malakal, violence raged between the ethnic groups inside the camp. The UN head called a meeting and John Chuol, a community police volunteer, stood to speak. “I told her to divide us up, so we’d stop fighting. She did. And it worked,” he told me. Tensions calmed, allowing Chuol to start a youth league bringing the groups back together as South Sudanese.

Chuol invited me to the youth meeting. Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk mingled. Days later, government forces torched the camp, including Chuol’s home, while evacuating the Dinka inside.

ab/oa/ag