ADDIS ABABA East African leaders said late on Monday they would try and push South Sudan’s warring sides to revive collapsed peace efforts and delay elections currently scheduled for August next year to a more realistic date.
Heads of state meeting in Ethiopia said they would set up a forum where the rivals could discuss ways of restoring a ceasefire more than three years into an ethnically-charged civil war that has plunged districts into famine.
The forum would be set up urgently, leaders from the East African bloc IGAD said, without specifying when or what form it would take.
Fighting broke out at the end of 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his rival Riek Machar as vice president, just two years after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.
After numerous failed peace deals, Kiir and Machar signed a power-sharing pact in August 2015, agreeing to a transitional government and elections.
But that deal stalled and Machar left the country.
IGAD said on Monday their new forum would include “estranged groups” and discuss ways of implementing the peace deal.
The forum would also develop a “revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period,” IGAD added in a statement.
South Sudan’s new vice president, Taban Deng Gai, had asked Monday’s meeting to bar Machar from any future forums. Gai also said elections should go ahead as planned – a position initially backed by Yoweri Museveni, the president of South Sudan’s neighbour Uganda, according to diplomats at the talks.
But the delegates finally decided warring sides would be invited and it would be “too premature” to stage the vote given the current levels of violence, diplomats said.
The war has split the impoverished country along ethnic lines, often between Kiir’s Dinka group and Machar’s Nuer. It has also nearly halved oil production and fueled Africa’s biggest cross-border refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The United Nations has said the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing and risks escalating into genocide.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
(JUBA) – The South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir say they wished their peace partner and ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar does not return to Juba and assume his position in the coalition government.
Senior officials allied to President Kiir on Wednesday announced willingness to fully implement the August 2015 peace agreement which the President Kiir signed with the opposition leader, Machar.
Presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkages, Tor Deng Mawien, described the implementation of the agreement to be moving at rapid speed with the appointment of Taban Deng Gai as the replacement of Machar after he was unilaterally removed from his capacity as First Vice President by Kiir due to his absence.
“Anybody who has been following the turns of events and the level of movement would appreciate the speed at which the president has demonstrated his commitment to implementing the peace agreement because he has now found a partner. General Taban Deng Gai has demonstrated willingness to working collaboratively with the president to implement the peace agreement so that to move the country forward. This is what is very important. It is not who occupies which position,” Mawien, a relative and a strong political ally of President Kiir, said during an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune.
Mawien said it was now time for the region and the international community at large to extend a helping hand and work together with the current transitional government of national unity as recommended by the outcome of the communique of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
“With such changes taking place within the presidency, where there is now a better working relationship, the region and the international community should take advantage of this new spirit and the working environment of cooperation to come out and extend support to implement the agreement,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gordon Buay, one of the senior representatives at South Sudanese embassy in the United States, claimed that the world was now accepting the appointment of Gai because they have realised that it was not easy for president Kiir to work together with Machar.
“The entire world is convinced that Riek Machar cannot work together with President Kiir given the incident of July, 8, this year coupled with December, 15, 2013. Therefore, the world accepted Taban Deng Gai to implement the peace [agreement] with President Kiir simply because bringing back Riek Machar to Juba to the Presidential Palace is like lightening a match near kerosene or benzene. The result is fire, fire, fire, fire, fire and fire,” Buay told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday from Washington DC.
He claimed further that the world leaders have reached a logical conclusion that Riek Machar has no place in the transitional government of national unity because he is purportedly “a combustible product that can easily explode and kill people.”
Gai, on the other hand, he described, is like “an air condition that cools the room. He is the right person to work with President Kiir to cool South Sudan.
However, both IGAD communiqué and United Nations Security Council’s resolutions criticized the replacement of Machar as “inconsistent” with the peace agreement and called for reinstatement of Machar to his position as First Vice President.
Observers are keen to underline that the speed at which the assembly reconstitution and after the replacement of Machar suggests there was an underground conspiracy to remove him from office and replace him with someone who would not stick to implementation of the key provisions in the deal.
President Kiir himself announced at the opening of the assembly that the delay was due to petty political differences and lack of better working relationship between him and Machar at the time.
He declared he would from the time of opening the assembly work collaboratively with Gai to implement the agreement. Gai declared at the inaugural function of his appointment that there was no need for two armies in the country and president Kiir was the only existing commander in chief in the country.