Tag Archives: (SPLM-IO

South Sudan – aid convoy attacked by gunmen; two killed

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

JUBA Gunmen have attacked an aid convoy in famine-hit South Sudan, killing two people and wounding three, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday.

The attack underscored the dangers confronting aid agencies in the world’s youngest country at a time nearly half its population, or about 5.5 million people, face food shortages. The United Nations has already declared a famine in some parts.

South Sudan has been mired in a conflict that has split the nation along ethnic lines and forced more than three million people to flee their homes. Aid workers have been kidnapped, shot at and had their supplies looted by armed men.

The attack occurred on Tuesday near Yirol, in the centre of the country about 210 km (130 miles) northwest of the capital of Juba, where the aid workers had been dealing with a cholera outbreak.

In a statement, the IOM said the convoy was targeted as it returned to Yirol, with the gunmen ambushing one of the vehicles. Two people died of gunshot wounds, the aid group said, and an IOM health officer was among the wounded.

The identity and motivation of the attackers were unknown, the statement said.

Also on Thursday, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said its hospital in Wau Shilluk had been looted during recent heavy fighting.

“Wau Shilluk was looted of all medicines including life-saving drugs and essential supplies,” Abdalla Hussein Abdalla, the deputy head of mission for South Sudan, said in a statement. “Our hospital is in a terrible condition.”

Earlier this week, gunmen briefly detained eight local employees of U.S. charity Samaritan’s Purse.

The civil war erupted in 2013 when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Machar’s rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (In Opposition), on Thursday criticised a new rebel faction led by an army general who resigned earlier this year.

A statement allegedly released by the new rebel faction said that Machar’s forces in the Equatoria region, near the Ugandan frontier, had pledged loyalty to former General Thomas Cirillo Swaka.

“The SPLA IO is totally amazed and at the same time DISAPPROVES the claim of Thomas Cirillo that its forces in Equatoria region have pledged loyalty to him and his new faction,” the statement said.

“We urge General Thomas to reconsider his strategy and not play into the hands of Salva Kiir’s allies in the region, whose intention is to divide the opposition.”

(Reporting by Denis Dumo; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams and Richard Lough)

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 – officials say transitional unity government may rule until 2021

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) could, after implementing the 2015 peace agreement in good faith, remain in power until 2021, a prominent member of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) has said.

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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (AFP)

The peace agreement, Aldo Ajou Deng Akuei said, still requires total restoration of national security, the unification of South Sudan army (SPLA), the reconciliation process, accountability and hybrid court, national census, the election commission law and the making of the permanent Constitution before any elections.

The JCE is a group of veteran politicians who advise President Salva Kiir on political issues.

“Two years will not be enough to get the weakened country back on its feet. Let’s be sincere, elections will not take place in 2018 if we mean genuine implementation of the peace deal in good faith. I think there are very strong reasons for TGoNU to continue into 2021, to be fair to ourselves and others”, Akuei posted on his Facebook.

The JCE official also cast doubt on whether the elections could be held on time because the people of South Sudan are not in their homes.

“Thousands are internally displaced. About 450,000 have crossed our borders to neighbouring countries, seeking refuge. And about 5,000,000 are facing lack of food in the whole country. With all these problems, we have no money to implement the peace deal. The international is not ready or committed to assist South Sudan”, he said.

The accord, Akuei stressed, has been overloaded with “a very huge national agenda”, requiring time implement it with care and trust.

In August last year, President Kiir called for an early election, two years ahead of schedule and before the completion of the implementation of the peace deal, which recommends a lot of institutional and political reforms for two and a half years of the transitional period.

He said the reason for calling for an early election is to avoid attempts to ascend to the office by other means than elections, claiming some people may take advantage of the lack of a new mandate from the people.

“We need to hear the voice of the people. If [we] don’t do so, maybe someone will wake up one day and declare a coup,” Kiir told country’s lawmakers, without hinting on whether he would step down from power.

Elections in the war-ravaged nation, in accordance with the timetable outlined in the 2015 peace agreement, are to be conducted in 2018.

(ST)

South Sudanese exiles fear kidnap in Kenya after activist disappears

Reuters

By Katharine Houreld | NAIROBI

NAIROBI A Kenyan court said on Wednesday that the state did not have custody of two South Sudanese activists missing from Nairobi, stoking suspicions among other opposition supporters that they may be detained by Juba’s security agents.

Human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak and writer Aggrey Idri Ezibon, both supporters of South Sudan’s opposition, went missing from the Kenyan capital within hours of each other on Jan. 23 and 24.

After they disappeared, their families filed a case in Kenya to stop a possible deportation back to South Sudan after other opposition figures were sent home.

But Kenyan state lawyers said the men were not in Kenyan custody. The judge ruled “the applicants’ disappearance can only be … abduction”.

Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, plunged into war in 2013, when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

Machar fled after a shaky peace deal collapsed in July and fighting has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines. Parts of the country are suffering from famine and more than 3 million South Sudanese have fled their homes.

Many opposition figures, including Luak and Ezibon, sought refuge in other East African countries.

But regional powers became less welcoming to Machar’s supporters after the rebellion split and one of Machar’s former colleagues, Taban Deng Gai, joined the government in July, said Casie Copeland, senior analyst for South Sudan at Brussels-based thinktank International Crisis Group.

Since then, Machar’s supporters have faced curbs on their political activities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan, she said.

In November, Kenya deported James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s main spokesman, back to Juba.

A man previously imprisoned at the headquarters of South Sudan’s National Security Services told Reuters he saw Gatdet there. The former inmate, who asked not to be named, said torture was rife and prisoners malnourished.

The South Sudanese government did not return calls seeking comment. It have not confirmed Gatdet is in custody.

A South Sudanese rights activist based in Uganda, Peter Gai Manyuon, told Reuters on Wednesday that a friend in the South Sudanese security services had told him that agents wanted to kidnap him and another activist.

They blamed Manyuon and Luak for a report detailing the wealth of South Sudanese officials, he said.

Aya Benjamin, Ezibon’s wife, said she feared others may go missing. Three opposition leaders had fled Kenya, she said.

“I’m not safe anywhere except home. I hope peace comes in South Sudan so I can go home,” she said.

Another Nairobi-based opposition activist who asked not to be identified named five prominent opposition figures who left Kenya in recent months.

“Some were called from an anonymous number and warned,” he said. Their circle feared Luak and Ezibon had either been secretly deported to Juba by Kenya or kidnapped by South Sudan, he said.

Kenyan police and foreign office officials did not return calls seeking comment.

(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Editing by Alison Williams)

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.

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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.