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Nine aid workers killed in S. Sudan in November: UN

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 09:23

December 13, 2017 (JUBA) – A total of nine aid workers were killed in South Sudan in November alone, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Emergency humanitarian workers attend to children in Pibor, Jonglei, South Sudan, 2 February 2012 (ST)

Six of the aid workers, the UN humanitarian affairs body (OCHA) said, were killed in South Sudan's Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria and Lakes states.

"Incidents of violence, some of which led to the death of aid workers, substantially disrupted aid operations, forcing the suspension of response activities in multiple locations," OCHA said in a report.

More than three million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes since conflict broke out in the young nation in December 2013.

According to OCHA, almost half of the South Sudan's 12 million people are hungry, including about 1.7 million on the brink of famine.

"Fighting forced the relocation of at least 47 aid workers in six incidents in Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, and Unity," said the UN.

According to OCHA, 103 humanitarian access incidents were reported in November, compared to 116 in October and that six security incidents forced suspension of aid operations in different locations.

On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi appealed for urgent action by all sides to settle the conflict in South Sudan and put an end to its deepening humanitarian crisis and Africa's largest refugee disaster.

The conflict, UNHCR said, has created the largest refugee crisis in Africa, amid estimates the refugee population could exceed 3 million by December 2018.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

IMF recommends floating Sudanese Pound

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 08:43

December 13, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has strongly advised Sudan to float the Sudanese pound stressing it is critical for creating the necessary conditions for attracting investors and promoting economic development.

The call is included in an annual report on Sudanese economy released this week providing a roadmap for economic recovery after the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. It also comes after the revocation of U.S. sanctions on Sudan opening the door to "strengthen the outlook and boost the payoff from ambitious reforms".

"Directors agreed that exchange rate unification is critical for eliminating the distortions that hamper investment and growth," said the report which is issued after a visit of IMF delegation to Khartoum.

"Many Directors saw merit in an upfront unification of exchange rates to eliminate multiple currency practices and to bolster the credibility of the authorities' reform agenda," the report further said.

On 13 November 2017, Sudan's Finance Minister Mohamed Osman al-Rikabi denied intentions to float the Sudanese pound. He pointed out that his ministry would take a number of measures to strengthen the price of the pound, stressing that its value would stabilize in the near future.

Several economists, including former Finance Minister Abdel-Rahim Hamdi, recently called on the government to give up the system of managed floating exchange rate and allow the market mechanisms to set the price of the pound. They say the exchange rate unification would allow drawing foreign capital back to the country, improving Sudan's external competitiveness, supporting exports and attracting foreign investment.

However, the IMF experts stressed that successful exchange rate unification will also require appropriate supportive macroeconomic and structural policies

Accordingly, the report included a policy reform scenario proposing that the "Exchange rates are fully liberalized at the beginning of 2018 and remain unified and market-determined thereafter "

Once the pound is floated, the IMF says energy and wheat subsidies should be scrapped between 1019 and 2021. However, this tough measures should be accompanied with an increase of the social spending to from 2018 onward to ease the adjustment pain from the reforms.

The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar since the lift of economic sanctions last October. The measure increased the demand for dollar in the black market from the business community putting pressure on the meagre hard currency.

The IMF estimates in its report that Sudan's external debt reached $ 52.4 billion or 111 percent of GDP at end-2016 and, because of the large exchange rate depreciation, rose by 29.5 percent of GDP in 2016.

The international body repeatedly underscored the need to remove Sudan from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list to benefit from debt relief.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Troika urges full participation in S. Sudan peace revitalization forum

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 07:45

December 13, 2017 (JUBA) - The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have called on all parties to participate in the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).

President Salva Kiir pose with the IGAD FM after a meeting held at the South Sudanese presidency in Juba on 13 Oct 2017 (ST Photo)

The HLRF, the Troika said in a statement issued on Wednesday, is a unique and critical opportunity to make progress towards peace.

The statement comes days before the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convenes the HLRF for the agreement on the resolution of the civil war in the war-torn East African country.

“The humanitarian, economic, security, human rights, and political situation continues to deteriorate with devastating consequences for the people of South Sudan,” partly reads the Troika's statement.

Over half the South Sudanese population, aid agencies say, now lacks enough food to feed themselves and a third of the population has fled their homes, causing the largest refugee crisis in Africa.

“This situation is intolerable to the region and the international community,” the Trioka further stressed, adding “It cannot continue”.

In recent months, however, the region and the international community have repeatedly called on all parties to the conflict to participate in the HLRF constructively and in a spirit of compromise and inclusion.

The members of the Troika, in their statement, said they fully expect the Government of South Sudan to adhere to its repeated public and private commitments to participate in the HLRF in good faith, and with the immediate goal of stopping the fighting in the country.

The group said although South Sudan is a member of the regional bloc, its government is also a party to the conflict and that to achieve a sustainable peace, no party to the conflict can have undue influence or a veto on the process, including the government.

“The opposition also bears responsibility for coming to the table without preconditions,” further noted the Troika's statement, adding that “All parties must engage sincerely and make concessions in the national interest; otherwise, the conflict and suffering will continue”.

Meanwhile, Norway, the US and UK vowed to fully support IGAD's continuing effort to build peace saying they view the HLRF as the essential and inclusive forum to advance peace in the war-torn nation.

“IGAD's ability to solve this crisis depends on unity of purpose amongst its members, and we urge the IGAD countries to speak with one voice,” the statement added, and further called for a “genuinely inclusive” HLRF that reflects the political reality of South Sudan.

The revitalization process, being supported by regional countries, seeks to revive the implementation of the 2015 peace accord and bring all the warring parties together.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

UNHCR appeals for urgent action to end S. Sudan crisis

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 05:43

December 13, 2017 (JUBA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi has urged urgent action by all sides to settle the conflict in South Sudan and put an end to its deepening humanitarian crisis and Africa's largest refugee disaster.

South Sudanese refugees carrying Core Relief Items walk down a road in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Yumbe District, Northern Region, Uganda. (UNHCR/David Azia)

“The world cannot continue to stand by as the people of South Sudan are terrorized by a senseless war,” Grandi said Wednesday.

The official said the devastating effects of the fighting were a direct consequence of “tragic failures” in the country's political leadership.

Most of the refugees, according to Grandi, were children under the age of 18, while the women who arrived as refugee in neighbouring countries reportedly complained of having either been repeatedly raped, their husbands killed or their children abducted.

South Sudan's neighbouring countries currently host two million refugees, while nearly seven million citizens inside the country are in need of essential humanitarian assistance, the refugee agency said.

“Two million of these [refugees] are internally displaced,” said Grandi.

“Pressure must be brought to bear on those driving this deadly conflict, which has uprooted a third of South Sudan's people in just four years, and killed and maimed countless more. Urgent, concerted action by regional and international actors is needed before it is too late,” said the top UN official.

Grandi said failure to protect South Sudanese refugees and other civilians would make the crisis even more complex and destabilize the region for decades to come, a possibility the world can ill afford.

He called on the parties to the conflict to find a political solution.

“The success of the High Level Revitalization Forum is key to ending the suffering of South Sudanese refugees and the killing of innocent civilians,” he said.

The peace initiative in South Sudan, brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), intends to revive the stalled peace accord, which was signed in August 2015.

The South Sudan conflict, the UN refugee agency says has created the largest refugee crisis on the African continent. UNHCR estimates the refugee population could exceed three million by December 2018.

“The situation is no longer sustainable - for the governments of asylum countries, humanitarian agencies and, most importantly, the South Sudanese people,” stressed Grandi.

“The cycle of violence must be brought to an end,” he added.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Failure to arrest Sudan's al-Bashir undermines impunity: ICC prosecutor

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 05:02

December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The international community's lack of cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Sudanese president damage UN efforts to hold accountable those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity, Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), briefs the Security Council at a meeting on the situation in Darfur (UN Photo)

Bensouda made her remark in the ICC twenty-sixth report to the Security Council which referred the case of Darfur crimes to the ICC in March 2005.

The war crimes court issued two arrest warrants for the Sudanese president the first was issued on 4 March 2009, the second on 12 July 2010. However, he used to travel across the world and with the support of the African Union and Arab League.

The Prosecutor called on the Security Council to "prioritise action" on the arrest of the first sitting Head of State to be indicted by the war crimes court, stressing that there "no justification for States Parties" to fail to arrest an ICC suspect "irrespective of that person's official status".

"This costly inaction has the potential to undermine the fight against impunity, the effect of which is to lower the bar of accountability that many have fought to raise," Bensouda said.

"This continuous nonfeasance only serves to embolden others to invite Mr a1-Bashir to their territory, safe in the knowledge that there will be no consequences from this Council for such breaches," she added.

On Monday, the court said that Jordan was non-compliant when al-Bashir visited Amman in March 2017 for an Arab meeting and decided to refer the matter to the Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute and to the Security Council.

The 15-member body has the power to impose sanctions for a failure to cooperate with the ICC, however, so far it did not act on court referrals.

South Africa, Uganda, Chad and Kenya are all members of the Hague-based court but it didn't take such a measure against them. several African countries threatened to withdraw from the court in the past.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

ARCSS and HLRF: last or lost chance for peace in South Sudan?

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 05:02

By James Okuk

“Tell people in power that something they tried didn't work as expected” – Peter Ross. “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation” – Edmund Burke.

The above quotes are the essential secrets of success or failure of countries. This wisdom from Ross and Burke should guide the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and its outcome. The warring parties should seize the opportunity as the unavoidable last chance for sustainable peace. There is no room or patience left now for accommodating the unending senseless war any longer. The Revitalization of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) must change the tainted image that the country has acquired since 2013 crises to date. It should rescue South Sudan from its current situation of hopelessness and fragility. It must prevent the new country from premature disappearance into annals of history due to its trifling resistance to change for dignified happiness.

It is high time for South Sudan to be confronted truthfully to quickly regain the confidence of its lucky territory (644,329 km2) and the inherent abundance of virgin resources (oil, gas, gold, teak, mahogany, ebony, gum arabic, sweet water, tame and wild animals, proud and liberal people, etc..) located in the naturally blessed tropical savannah climate of agriculture. Article 1 (1)(2) of the Constitution of South Sudan has correctly defined it the sovereign Republic straddling Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile with boundaries of January 1, 1956, including Abyei Area of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal Province to Kordofan Province in 1905 and as defined by the Abyei International Arbitration Tribunal Award of July 2009. Article 1 (4) also provides for decentralized multiparty democracy and homeland for multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial people of South Sudan who should co-exist peacefully, including with their other African neighbors: Sudan (border of 2000 km) to the North, Ethiopia to the East, Kenya to the South East, Uganda to South, Democratic Republic of Congo to South West, and Central African Republic to North West. Egypt also claims to be a neighbor of South Sudan through links of history and Nile River.

Building on the international relations and long history of liberation struggle, the Republic of South Sudan has opened 29 Diplomatic Missions Abroad (with bigger number in Africa, followed by Europe and none yet in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Oceania). South Sudan has also become a member of multilateral international and regional organizations (e.g., UN, AU, IGAD, ICGLR, EAC, etc..) and has been obliged to commit itself to preservation of international peace, security and cooperation. Many countries and international organizations have also established their diplomatic ties and opened their offices and residences in Juba. Numerous humanitarian agencies have also been operating in South Sudan, engaging the local counterparts and distribution agents, especially after 2005 and more from 2013 to date. Nevertheless and despite all these interactions, South Sudan has remained vulnerable and upside-down state surviving virtually on humanitarian reliefs by NGOs and ‘Lords of Poverty' promoted by ‘Masters of Crises'. Why? War and bad governance, stupid!

Given the above-mentioned circumstances, South Sudan shouldn't be tolerated further or treated as an exceptional nuisance in flesh of the region and international community. The heartbreaking statistics on its 13 million population (i.e., 64 tribes and communities) must not be taken lightly: over 2 million displaced to neighboring countries and more as illegal migrants without refugee records, about 2 million living as vulnerable IDPs even in Juba the Capital City, over 6 million living as food insecure in their original settlements and threatened by hunger during the dry season, over 70% living below and even beyond poverty line in urban areas alone, 3 digits of upper numbers defining hyperinflation in the market, unthinkable diminished purchasing power of public servants due to valueless salaries they receive late after months of waiting and resilience, severe humanitarian need for ordinary people who have no alternative means or lucrative tactics of survival, high rates of death from treatable diseases, alarming illiteracy magnitude with over 2 million children out of basic schools, uncontrolled migration of frustrated youth overseas and at times trying their luck in the deadly Mediterranean Route, Vicious Routines of attacks of residences by the known or unknown gunmen, etc..).

Faced with the despairing and disgusting dynamics of all the above bad news caused by the on-going civil war and man-made suffering, well-wishing keen persons should ask their conscience: Is it immoral from the international community and the region to impose peace into South Sudan by any means possible and without second thought on doing this immediately? What good did political leaders of South Sudan in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) achieved so far in the interest of ending the war and pursing real peace and legitimacy for them to continue ruling by getting free-of-charge extension of their term in public offices? What is attractive and promising about the opposition outside the TGoNU that its leaders must be included in power sharing for the unending transitional periods in South Sudan? What is new about the IGAD mediation and JMEC this time round that we should be really optimistic for safeguards of the long-awaited sustainable peace and development in South Sudan?

The last opportunity granted in the HLRF for South Sudanese leaders as well as for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and IGAD-Plus to commit themselves seriously and accountably to the revitalization of the ARCSS, should serve as final wakeup call for all. The critical evaluative focus should be placed on ARCSS paralysis and its oversight ineffectiveness so that repeat of failure of ‘African-solutions' is not regenerated intentionally. Good governance, security, humanitarian assistance, economic dividends and credible democratization should be seen emerging urgently from the new approach for peace and progress. The Terms of Reference for the HLRF are already clearer in this direction (i.e., Enforce Permanent Ceasefire, Implement the ARCSS Fully, and Revise the Scheduled Timelines Realistically for Elections to be Conducted Credibly Towards the End of Revitalized Transition Period).

The tricks and tactics used by many South Sudanese politicians and their attached armed groups to cling or ascend to power under pretexts of indefinitely extended transitional periods must not be entertained again. It is commendable that the IGAD Special Envoy, the Cool Excellent Ambassador from Djibouti, has taken his time keenly to consult and know South Sudanese better before jumping into the conclusions of the HLRF, which will kick off on 18th – 22nd December 2017 in Addis Ababa and as new realities of the situation emerge. Thereafter, it should be known in black and white who are the malicious ‘bad guys' wanting the new country on the world map to be defined by vicious statistics and who are the virtuous ‘good guys' working for peace. It must also be underscored that the devil around peace deals in South Sudan is not really in the multiple mediations or negotiations and tendencies for ‘forum shopping', neither in the inclusivity or transparency; but in the missed and messed pudding of implementation processes that often flop from scoring the targeted goals effectively in time.

Even if multi-dollar fund is poured in abundantly for peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building or humanitarianism, still the absence of the necessary political will from leaders of South Sudan and the region shall continue to take us back to undesirable ‘Square One' (especially when the same failed methodology and personnel are s kept intact to run the repeated futile show without facing the intransigence sticks). This detrimental haggling misconduct and insensitive unchanging attitude raises this essential question for pondering: what is so honeying and milking inside government, military, political parties, and opposition groups of South Sudan that rigidly makes leaders and their supporters not to think of surviving in dignity elsewhere at private sector, civil society zone and faith-based institutions?

The bitter truth about the embattled South Sudan must be honestly exposed and confessed for the ARCSS Revitalization to succeed, including regaining the lost confidence in liberty, justice, penance, reconciliation and healing to prevail at last. The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) was signed in August 2015 by the Parties (GRSS, SPLM-IO, SPLM-FD and OPP), Adherents and other South Sudanese Stakeholders under Guarantors of leaders of IGAD countries and international witnesses of the Troika (i.e., U.S, U.K & Norway) as well as other international partners/friends. All the parties, especially the GRSS and the SPLM-IO, were advised to withdraw their reservations. They were also cautioned to avoid the mentality and precipitous interpretation of the ARCSS as if it was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, where the original SPLM/A of Chairman Dr. John Garang and his lieutenants came back home from liberated areas and bushes of rebellion to share power and wealth (i.e., oil revenues mainly) with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the 25 states of the Sudan. Special upper control and privileges of autonomous government were accorded to the SPLM/A in the 10 states in the South and with capital in Juba.

Unlike the CPA,the ARCSS was launched with little hope and faint optimism in practicality of its ambitious roadmap for enabling South Sudan to rise up again in dignity during 32-months transitional period and beyond. It was wished that the deal will stop the devastating hostilities of the civil war and its horrible human rights abuses and disgusting humanitarian law violations. Hence, the JMEC's Chairperson and his Deputy were rushed into Juba for a miracle but to find themselves in limbo of complications of ‘peace-war' politics (local, regional and international), and without clarification by IGAD Mediation whose Three Envoys put off their hands on the ARCSS after it was finally signed by the President of the Republic of President at Freedom Hall in Juba on 26 August 2015. These Envoys (all retired army generals) from Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya didn't want to be bothered further as they thought to have accomplished their mission. Nothing was significantly heard about them again on the trap of ARCSS implementation.

The principal warring parties of that time (SPLM-GRSS and SPLM-IO) could only trust the show of their balance of military power, including VIP guarding units in Juba and troops deployed in other parts of their respective controlled territory in South Sudan. Particularly, the SPLM/A-IO Leader was hesitant to set foot in Juba without seeing significant boots of his own trusted guards and relatives on the ground. Planes and Cargos were hired to transport them and their heavy armaments to the Seat of the TGoNU, while at the same time pressing the GRSS to demilitarize Juba (except for a sizable Presidential and VIPs guards) to a distance of 25km outside. The First Vice President was sworn in, Ministers were appointed, and Presidential Advisors announced without proper procedures and bases in the ARCSS and with impatient to wait for promulgation of the new transitional constitutional (which didn't see light after that).

Also the parties to the ARCSS failed to collectively apologize to the people of South Sudan for the wrongs caused by their unworthy violent conflict in 2013 and onwards. They couldn't act jointly to conduct public rallies in Juba and other parts of South Sudan to declare the end of war (with its pervasive incentives, distorted propaganda, irrational arrogance, mediocre pride, disrespect to the rule of law, and mobilization of fighters and supporters on destructive tribal and regional sentiments, etc). They failed to build confidence in culture of harmony and peaceful socialization in South Sudan. They provoked the economy to ‘take up arms' against the people, adding to the suffering caused by wild guns. The bad business went on as usual without change. It was a wrong and false start for ARCSS implementation. The darkness haunted later as the tricky situation allowed the dwarf alligators to become giant crocodiles in the TGoNU, confusing the JMEC's leadership to distinguish the hyenas in sheep skins from real peace agents.

The inherent ARCSS' contradictions didn't take longer to explode after the TGoNU was lately formed in 2016. The political will to move on as a coalition ‘government of bitter enemies' was not seen around any corner of the TGoNU's leadership. It proved so difficult and itchy to allocate the First Vice President an Executive Office space adjacent to the Office of the President as it used to be in the past. The RPGs and PKMs of his bodyguards were demonstrably lethal for a serene atmosphere to prevail. The Presidency couldn't agree on anything constructive and well-wishing in the interest of fast-tracking the ARCSS implementation, particularly after the complications of the unilateral Republican Executive Order 36/2015 for the establishment of 28 states to replace the 10 states and impose a de facto situation as a retaliation by the GRSS against what its politicians and council of elders detested as an imposed peace deal. Also the SPLM/A-IO continued to operate in parallels on its 21 bush states, governors and commissioners, and with tribal communities and all types of opportunists flocking to the SPLM/A-IO Leader at his Pagak II in Juba's suburb while troubles signs on the wall were clear for a possible bang. The IGAD's Council of Ministers' Communiqué, which authorized a formation of boundary committee to resolve the complications of the 21 and 28 states, fell on deaf ears of obstinacy.

Even the TGoNU's Council of Ministers couldn't discuss anything critically relevant to the implementation of the ARCSS; sometimes it failed to meet for ‘lack of agenda' but also for fear from possible backlash of the heavily armed troops guarding the President, First Vice President, Vice President, Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior, among other VIP guards. Somatization of Ministries Complex and streets of Juba was real. The agreed demilitarization or cantonment of forces was just a dry ink on ARCSS Paper. Nothing admirable was positively seen on the ground in the interest of Cessation of Hostilities, Permanent Ceasefire and Peaceful Security Arrangements as stipulated in Chapter II of the ARCSS.

Thus, it was not a surprise for many critical observers to witness the pungent military showdown in Juba when the guarding forces of the principal TGoNU's leaders started searching and shooting themselves as legitimate targets in June 2016. This culminated in the Real PlayStation Film and close-ranged Dogfight that took place among the Presidency Guards, letting loosed finally the clouds of hell that was hovering around the Presidential Palace (J1) during the extraordinarily emergency security meeting of the TGoNU's top bosses. The residents of Juba had to see the lethal live fireworks that they had never witnessed once, especially after the fifth Independence Anniversary was suspended two days before the show of SPLA military might. From then the hope for peace via ARCSS was put into critical balance with the Old Man from Botswana and Representatives of International Community in Juba getting jumbled by the fast evolving renewed war situation, right on their helpless watch. Alas!

The First Vice President and his surviving 700 guards and some political supporters had to escape death narrowly after smelling terrible smoke from the sky and dust on the ground around their temporary residence in Jebel area (Pagak II). The spree of shooting, killings, looting and raping of South Sudanese and foreigners alike became so scaring (e.g., spraying live bullets on bullet-proofed American Embassy's Marked CD Car that was carrying high ranking staff, vandalizing Terrain Hotel and abusing its residents to the extent of fatality of a journalist, looting stores and warehouses of humanitarian agencies, all at a close vicinity and clear watch by the UNMISS Peacekeeping Forces). The Airport and exits from key transportation installations in and around Juba became inaccessible and unsafe. Despair about the relapse to 2013 situation got renewably real. The ARCSS was seen to have fallen apart, especially when some prominent Ministers of the TGoNU resigned and declared rebellion.

The UN Secretary-General was furiously stunned as he conducted an urgent press conference to condemn the unjustified renewed fighting, calling the ToNU' Principals “failed leaders”. The IGAD's Council of Ministers had to convene urgently for an extraordinary meeting in Nairobi, especially when it was discovered that the 17,000 UNMISS troops were helpless to help in keeping peace at that tormenting moment (including inside their own camps and fenced civilian protection sites around them). They didn't want to die for the right cause of discharging their mandate of protecting the civilians and keeping peace using any means disposable. Hence, Regional Protection Force (RPF) was recommended and authorized for deployment in Juba to stabilize the situation, protect the civilian, and guard the airports and key installations. The RPF was endorsed unanimously and quickly by the AU and UN Security Council in 2016, attached with some targeted sanctions against fee individuals and possible arms embargo on the country as a whole in case the civil war failed to get deescalated and resolved.

Now with the unacceptable gloomy reality of war-torn South Sudan, what must and what should be expected sufficiently from the ARCSS revitalization? Stopping the damning war in order to build and develop the naturally blessed South Sudan on fundamental pillars of human rights and civil liberties needed for realistic social contract between the people and their legitimate government of peace. No more destruction! The post-war South Sudanese state must be reformed and restructured federally and democratically on this foundation and without losing the legacy of historical struggle of its ancestors against all forms of inhumanity. It should adapt to the dynamics of political environment and establish strong institutions and functional processes of good governance, matching with globalization requirements.

It must also be acknowledged that the people of South Sudan and their well-wishing international partners and friends, have lost confidence in the TGoNU, in the opposition, and in the neutrals who have remained silent in the face of unleashed evils on the land. Three years of the transitional period have almost been wasted against ARCSS implementation as promised and mandated legitimately for action by: 3 men in the presidency, 30 ministers and 8 deputy ministers in the 29 ministries, 400 MPs in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, 50 MPs in the Transitional Council of States, Civil Servants in all Public Institutions, Officials in the National Commissions and Parastals, Justices and Judges in the Judiciary, JMEC's Members and Leadership, Political Parties, Media and Public Opinion, Civil Society Organizations and Academia, Faith-based Organizations, and other pressure or interest groups.

The revitalization process should avoid the ‘Nirvana fallacy' of letting the situation sort itself on wrong perceptions. It should also avoid keeping South Sudan as hostage of unending transitional governments, which is used by the unpopular politicians as the easiest gateway for ascending to power and capturing state resources on a short-cut treachery without real scrutinized mandate from the people. Peter Schuck in his Book ‘Why Government Fails So Often' (2014) cautioned for vigilance against entertaining politicians who are mostly short-sighted, selfish, partisan, lazy, opportunists and hypocrites, especially where citizens live in apathy, cynicism and ignorance. Thus, all post-war eggs of South Sudanese Republic must not be put in politicians' baskets. Some eggs should wisely be reserved for alternative baskets of strong independent Judiciary with robust Constitutional Court, for vibrant Civil Society, and for Honest Faith-based institutions, as a strategy of guaranteeing the safety and preservation of the South Sudan species against the deeper tipping cliff of any political dooming abyss.

There should be strict follow up mechanisms and sustained honest pressure, regionally and internationally, to enforce and safeguard the revitalized ARCSS implementation for good governance, stable security, serviceable humanitarianism, and economic recovery and growth. Tough lessons must be learnt from past blunders on the ARCSS. The roots causes of the conflicts must be diagnosed correctly and settled amicably for good. Legacy of ‘liberation-ism' with its strong link to fallible faith in unconventional military victory must be shunned as untenable for the liberal tribal loyalty, difficult geographical terrains, infrastructural underdevelopment, and uncontrollable intrusion of neighboring countries or foreign allies into internal affairs of South. The Senseless War must and should be declared as totally unsustainable for South Sudan. The bad situation has become like ‘big snake in tunnel' whose poison sprays into all directions.

On one hand sufficient sticks must be prepared to knock down warmongers. On the other hand attractive carrots must be availed for awarding those who are willingly to implement the revitalized the ARCSS, in letter and spirit. It is no longer a matter of inclusive power sharing and enjoyment but restoration of the lost dignity of the hard-worn Republic of South Sudan above any parochial interest of an individual or a tribe. All the diverse people of South Sudan and their respective leaders must all be empowered without undermining anyone or entity, be it the smallest or the biggest on the land. Armed forces must be distanced from active politics, from political parties or movements, and from tribes and regions of South Sudan, so that they are re-oriented and transformed into true national defense forces loyal to the unity of country than divisiveness of individual commanders or tribes.

Among all the scenarios, peace and sustainable security must be the only choice worth revitalizing for South Sudan. The war shouldn't be given any further chance to eat away the original DNA of South Sudan (though 90% of its lifespan has been spent in war situation and humanitarian catastrophe). The revitalized ARCSS should be supported sufficiently for it to create a fertile ground for seedling the terribly needed culture of peace and development in South Sudan. Tenacious technocrats must emerge from within South Sudanese themselves (after serious character scrutiny) to help put their country on correct path of good governance with categorical rule of just law and strong non-partisan public institutions. No last or lost chance. The Republic of South Sudan must and should become Peace, Peace and Peace!

Dr. James Okuk is Professor of Politics in the University of Juba and Peace-building Consultant in South Sudan. He is reachable at okukjimy@hotmail.com.

Categories: Africa

U.S. urges Sudan and rebels to resume peace talks

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 05:01

December 13, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. chargé d'Affaires in Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, on Wednesday has called on the Sudanese government and opposition groups to resume peace talks to end the armed conflicts in the country.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as the Two Areas since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

The African Union (AU) is brokering peace talks between the Sudanese government and opposition including the armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas.

Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa in August 2016, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the AU mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely.

On Wednesday, Koutsis met with Presidential Assistant, Ibrahim Mahmoud, who is also the government chief negotiator for the Two Areas talks, at the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

“The United States believes that time has come to move forward towards peace,”. Koutsis said following the meeting, according to the official news agency SUNA.

“We urge the government and the armed groups to seize this opportunity and engage in constructive negotiations to achieve peace and stability in the country,” he added.

In August 2016, The armed groups and opposition National Umma Party signed a roadmap agreement brokered by the African Union mediators . However, they failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement and another deal on the humanitarian access.

The opposition groups were supposed to take part in the national dialogue process but the government concluded it in October last year after the failure of the warring parties to sign a humanitarian truce in the Two Areas and Darfur.

Now, if the humanitarian cessation of hostilities is signed they can only participate in the constitutional process for a permanent fundamental law in Sudan.

But the process has been complicated by the spilt of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North into two factions one led by Malik Agar and the second by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu.

The Troika countries that facilitate the process seek bring the parties to resume talks, as the current unilateral cessation of hostilities cannot continue to hold in the absence of a political process.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Kordofan forms 5 committees to meet needs of returnees

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 05:01

December 13, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in South Kordofan has established five committees to coordinate efforts to meet the needs of growing numbers of returnees from rebel-held areas.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.

The HAC commissioner in South Kordofan Zahra Hassan Faris told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) they developed a tight plan to distribute the aid to the returnees.

She added five committees were set up to oversee the aid delivery including the high committee for the coordination of the humanitarian work, the emergency committee, information committee, distribution committee and the follow-up committee.

According to Faris, the five committees have held several meetings and submitted their reports on how to receive and distribute the assistance to the returnees.

Earlier this month, HAC in South Kordofan said the number of the returnees from the rebel-held areas has reached 9000 people which is estimated at about 1500 families.

It added the native administration took the initial measures to receive the returnees in preparation to integrate them into the community.

Talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since August 2016.

The SPLM-N demands to deliver 20% of the humanitarian assistance through a humanitarian corridor from Asosa, an Ethiopian border town.

But the government rejects the idea saying it is a breach of the state sovereignty and a manoeuvre from the rebels to bring arms and ammunition to their locked rebel-held areas in the Two Areas.

The SPLM-N, in November 2016 declined an American proposal to transport humanitarian medical assistance directly to the civilians in the rebel-held areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Dinka elder says S. Sudan's ruling party factions caused war

Sudan Tribune - Thu, 14/12/2017 - 04:48

December 13, 2017 (JUBA) - A member of the Jieng (Dinka) Council of elders has denied his group had played any negative role to cause the conflict, accusing the different factions of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of having caused the civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions since December 2013.

The rival SPLM factions sign a framework agreement in the Tanzanian city of Arusha on 20 October 2014 (ST)

Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey, also a key member of the country's national dialogue, insists his group only supported South Sudan President Salva Kiir because he was elected into office and not because they had in anyway played a role that caused the war.

“In a nutshell, the warring parties are the SPLM and its rebellious factions: SPLM IO, SPLM FDs, and SPLM DC. But, as disinformation is a twin of thuggery, they and a mysterious group of neo-communist are out to mislead South Sudan and the world. They are determined to find an exit out of the crisis they created and participated”, wrote Akuey.

“We hereby adhere to a credible and factual debate in this particular crisis in order to record the history of South Sudan correctly. We support the SPLM and its Chairman Salva Kiir because their power came through the ballot paper and not through force of arms, violence or political anarchy. Less we support violence as a means to political power. That's why we are in the world media as advocates of freedom and democracy. Through democracy, peace, security, good governance, and inclusive infrastructural development can be sustained”, he added.

Akuey, who is a member of the council of states and the chairperson of the specialized committee responsible for human rights and constitutional affairs, said factions of the country's ruling party needed to be pressured to come together in order to end the war which they have caused.

The official was reacting to reports that often portrays the elders' body as major obstacles to efforts aimed at restoring peace and stability in the war-torn nation.

Last month, the country's rival factions signed a unification agreement to rebuild trust and confidence among them. The deal, dubbed the “Declaration of Unification”, was signed in Cairo, Egypt under the auspices of the Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni Kaguta.

The SPLM factions also agreed that the Egyptian general intelligence service would coordinate with the parties and follow up on the implementation of the signed deal.

The Cairo Declaration, which contained names of Pagan Amum, a former political detainee and South Sudan's defence minister, Kuol Manyang, is expected to speed up implementation of the 2015 Arusha accord, signed nearly three years ago.

In January 2015, delegates from three factions of the SPLM party signed a 12-page agreement in Arusha, Tanzania, laying out key steps toward reunifying the party. Those who signed include the party loyal to President Salva Kiir, the SPLM-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), led by former vice president Riek Machar, and a third made up of party officials who were detained when the conflict began in December 2013.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

UN peacekeeping chief visits injured Tanzanian ‘blue helmets’ in DR Congo

UN News Centre - Africa - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 18:54
The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations today thanked individually peacekeepers who fought to hold off an attack on 7 December in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Categories: Africa

With ‘so much at stake’ in crisis-torn South Sudan, UN and partners launch $1.72 billion appeal

UN News Centre - Africa - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 17:57
The United Nations relief wing and the humanitarian community in South Sudan launched on Wednesday a $1.72 billion appeal to assist six million people affected by conflict, displacement and hunger.
Categories: Africa

S. Sudan says closer to eradicating guinea worm

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 08:56

December 12, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan is closer to eradicating the guinea worm disease in the country, top officials said on Tuesday.

A young goat herder prepares to drink dam water through a filtration pipe provided by The Carter Center's Guinea worm eradication program. (Photo: The Carter Center/L. Gubb)

Speaking at a guinea worn eradication evaluation symposium in the capital, Juba, First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai emphasised the need to strengthen existing mechanisms to prevent the disease from resurfacing since the country registered no case in the last one year.

"As we celebrate today I wish that you re-examine the teams, mechanisms and models that you have put today, so that we don't have a resurface of this disease," said Gai.

Guinea-worm disease, according to World Health Organization (WHO) is caused by the parasitic worm Dracunculus medinensis. This worm is the largest of the tissue parasite affecting human beings.

He stressed the need to strengthen surveillance to prevent re-infection, improve public awareness and increase safe water to villages.

Minister of Health Riek Gai Kok said the latest success demonstrates the effective collaboration between government and partners like Carter Center, World Health Organization, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Program (WFP).

"I am pleased to announce that South Sudan has gone 12 months of zero cases of guinea worm disease since the last case was reported in November 2016," Kok said.

He said the health ministry is rolling out its county health initiative program to bridge gaps in access to basic health services for the majority of South Sudanese.

Kok added that this initiative will draw lessons from the successful community-based guinea worm eradication program.

"The implementation of the Boma initiative will also build synergies necessary to effectively take South Sudan across the finish line and be certified free of guinea worm disease and elimination of other neglected tropical diseases," he said.

According to the WHO, guinea worm is endemic in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Chad.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

U.S. advocacy group call to tie Sudan's removal of terror list to fundamental reforms

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 08:20


December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Washington-based advocacy group Enough Project has called on the U.S. administration to use targeted sanctions and Sudan's removal from the terror list to bring the Islamist regime in Khartoum to end the war and protect freedoms and equal rights for its citizens.

On 6 October, President Trump permanently revoked economic sanctions on Sudan but has kept Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Also, he didn't touch a set of targeted sanctions on individuals and firms in connection with Darfur conflict.

The lift was decided in a process of constructive engagement with Khartoum including its cooperation on counterterrorism, improving humanitarian access to civilians in the war conflict areas, acting to end South Sudan conflict and ending military cooperation with North Korea as well as respecting religious freedom.

In a new report titled "Radical Intolerance: Sudan's Religious Oppression and Embrace of Extremist Groups" released on Tuesday, Enough cast doubts on Khartoum's credibility and commitment to the five-track process saying that it maintains its relations with extremists and Jihadist groups and intrinsically not interested in democratic reforms.

The rights groups went to back the idea that during the next stage of the normalisation process Washington should use Sudan's desperate need of national debt relief which requires its removal from the terror list as points of leverage to ensure democratic reforms in the east African country.

"Incentives for the Sudanese government, such as removal of the state sponsor of terrorism designation and support for Sudan's debt relief, should be tied to the implementation of fundamental reforms," reads the report.

Further, the groups proposed targeted sanctions that "(...) should focus on key officials and their networks that undermine peace and human rights,(stressing that) these pressures should spare the Sudanese public".

Recently the Sudanese government was accused some Christian groups of continuing to persecute religious leaders. Also, the security authorities targeted the newspapers and confiscated the print runs of several dailies for more than a week.

U.S. Deputy Secretary Of State John Sullivan was in Khartoum last November and held a series of meeting with the Sudanese officials to discuss the next phase of talks on bilateral relations. Even he met with the Sudanese Muslim scholars to discuss issues of religious freedoms.

"For Sudan to become a full partner of the United States, it must seek peace within its borders and with its neighbours, and cooperate reliably with the international community to improve security and prosperity in the region and adhere to long-standing international norms," he said in a speech on human rights/religious freedom in Sudan delivered at Al-Neelain Mosque in Khartoum on November 17, 2017.

"In addition, supporting human rights, including religious freedom, has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of the United States' bilateral engagement with Sudan," he stressed.

The two countries are expected to resume talks on bilateral relations early next year.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Sudan tightens security ahead of festive season

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 07:49

December 12, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan police has tightened security across the war-torn East African nation ahead of the forthcoming festive season.

Southern Sudanese police in a convoy on the streets of Juba (UN photo)

The deputy police spokesperson, James Dak Carol said security forces have been deployed to various strategic areas in the country.

"Security has been beefed up in the capital, major towns and other locations across the country as precautionary plans to boost safety of all the residents in the country," Dak told Xinhua on Tuesday.

"For the capital Juba to be safe, we have done adequate preparations by dividing Juba into five zones with huge deployment of forces for us to make sure citizens celebrate Christmas and New Year peacefully," added the official.

The operation, Dak further observed, will be a joint security venture and urged members of the general public to remain vigilant during the coming days as crimes are usually high during festive season.

In June this year, the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir instructed joint police units to shoot dead robbers, including those breaking into shops at night.

President Kiir said it is the police to provide security and protection to the citizens, saying the job of the police is to eliminate crimes.

The order, analysts said, highlights the frustration with which Kiir's administration has been grappling to address the rising crime rate in the national capital, Juba, since the civil war broke out in December 2013.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudan, CAR leaders discuss joint cooperation

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 06:45

December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and President of the Central African Republic (CAF) Faustin-Archange Touadéra have discussed bilateral relations and issues of common concern.

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir greets CAR elected President Faustin Archange Touadéra in Khartoum on 27 March 2016 (Photo SUNA)

Touadéra, heading a high-level delegation, on Monday has arrived in Khartoum on an official one-day visit upon an invitation from al-Bashir.

He met al-Bashir on Monday evening at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum.

According to Sudan's State Foreign Minister attal al-Mannan Bakhit, the visiting president has briefed al-Bashir on the situation in his country particularly regarding to the security conditions.

Touadéra pointed out that his country is move toward reconciliation among the various groups, saying they would benefit from Sudan's experience in the National Dialogue.

The CAR president demanded from al-Bashir to broaden the economic cooperation between the two countries particularly the border trade.

He also asked for Sudan's assistance in training the CAR armed forces to enable it to carry out its tasks effectively.

For his part, al-Bashir stressed Sudan's keenness to support peace and stability in the CAR and promote economic cooperation during the coming period.

He also expressed readiness to convey the National Dialogue experience to the CAR to achieve peace.

The CAR suffered the worst crisis in its history since late 2012 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled the government of François Bozizé. Christian militias so-called anti-Balaka groups responded by attacking the Muslim minority.

Muslims have been forced to flee the capital city and most of the west of the country, in what rights groups described as ethnic cleansing.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes such as torture and unlawful killing.

Elected in March 2016, Touadéra has pledged to end violence and restore security and stability in the troubled country.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

More than 170 killed in South Sudan clashes: MP

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 06:45

December 12, 2017 (JUBA) - More than 170 people died in the last week in clashes between two sub-clans in South Sudan, a Member of Parliament said Tuesday.

Map detail showing South Sudan's Lakes state in red

The violence in the Western Lakes state has also seen more than 200 people injured, local MP Dharuai Mabor Teny was quoted saying.

The violent clashes reportedly involved mainly armed youths from two rival Dinka sub-clans, who first clashed on Wednesday last week.

"Right now, from both sides, we have 170 plus people who lost their lives. 342 houses have been burnt and almost 1,800 people displaced," Teny told Reuters on Tuesday.

The attacks prompted South Sudan President Salva Kiir to declare a state of emergency in three northern states, with military chiefs told to mobilise forces with enough equipment for up to three months.

The order announced by the state-owned television (SSBC) on Monday evening ordered the government forces to move into the region and carry out forceful disarmament with immediate effect.

The president issued the order after MPs from Gok, Western and Eastern Lakes petitioned him to declare a state of emergency in the region and order for forceful disarmament, with the implementation of these measures expected to protect civilians' lives and properties.

The authorities have however reported that the situation in the area which has witnessed surge insecurity has improved following the recent deployment of security forces.

This is the third time the South Sudanese is declaring a state of emergency since war broke out in the country in 2013. In July, for instance, Kiir declared a state of emergency in Gogrial, parts of Tonj, Wau and Aweil East states for three months.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Unified action needed in Central Africa to defuse regional tensions, Security Council told

UN News Centre - Africa - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 06:00
Despite some positive developments, the overall situation in Central Africa still requires concerted action at all levels to address sociopolitical tensions, economic difficulties and abuses by armed groups, a United Nations envoy for the region said Wednesday.
Categories: Africa

UN welcomes return of Sudanese refugees from CAR

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 05:31

December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday has welcomed the return of Sudanese refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR).

Sudanese refugees from Darfur wait to be interviewed at a camp in eastern Chad (file photo HCR)

There are about 3,500 Sudanese refugees from Darfur living in the north-east of the CAR since the eruption of an insurgency in the western Sudan region. Nearly 1,500 of them have decided to voluntarily return to Sudan.

“UNHCR welcomes the voluntary return of these refugees from CAR”, said Noriko Yoshida, UNHCR representative in Sudan

“With the governments of Sudan and CAR we are assisting the returnees with transportation and return packages,” she added.

Yoshida further said the return of refugees to South Darfur “is expected to be a lasting solution, as we continue to see security and development improvements across the region”.

According to the UNHCR, the first batch including 45 Sudanese refugees arrived on Tuesday in Nyala, South Darfur capital where they were received by senior government officials and UNHCR staff.

“The returnees will be hosted in a transit centre for up to 3 days in the capital of South Darfur State before proceeding to their village, some 350 kilometres from Nyala,” said the UNHCR in a press release on Tuesday.

The returnees will have access to land and the UNHCR and the Sudanese government would provide return packages “to help the returnees re-establish their homes and livelihoods”.

“UNHCR will also work with government authorities and other partners to enhance service provision in the return area” read the press release.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Last June, the UN Security Council decided to downsize the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), admitting the security situation in the region has improved.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Britain urges political reforms in Sudan

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 05:28


December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour on Tuesday has met with the United Kindom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London.

Ghandour has arrived in London on Monday on a two-day visit to inaugurate the Sudanese-British investment forum and meet with a number of UK officials.

“The meeting discussed the developing bilateral relations between the two countries and the continued cooperation in all fields under the umbrella of the strategic dialogue between Sudan and Britain, which has been begun since 2016,” said Sudan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir in a press release on Tuesday

He added the meeting also discussed the economic situation in Sudan following the lifting of the U.S. economic sanctions.

“The Foreign Minister briefed his UK counterpart on the general situation in Sudan after the National Dialogue which continued for two years,” he said

Ghandour also briefed Johnson on Sudan's role in supporting the regional stability particularly in Somalia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic as well as the ramifications of the Gulf crisis and the war in Yemen.

According to the press release, the meeting also discussed Sudan's efforts to combat illegal migration and human trafficking.

On the other hand, in a Twitter message on Tuesday Johnson said he held “constructive meeting with Sudanese Foreign Sec Ibrahim Ghandour today, raised ongoing UK concerns over human rights and political & economic reforms which Sudan so desperately needs”.

In March 2016, Sudan and the UK held the first strategic consultations meetings between the two countries in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The meeting was considered the first talks of its kind at the ministerial level in 25 years.

The two countries agreed to exchange visits at the level of senior officials from the two countries along with increasing cooperation in the fields of economy, investment and culture.

SUDANESE-BRITISH ECONOMIC FORUM

Meanwhile, Ghandour has addressed the opening session of the Sudanese-British investment forum on Tuesday morning in London.

He expressed hope the forum could help present the UK companies with the investment and trade opportunities in Sudan following the lifting of the U.S. sanctions.

The meeting was also addressed by the UK Ambassador to Khartoum Michael Aron, senior trade advisor for Africa at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of International Trade Tim Morris and the deputy director of the U.S. States Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Office of Sanctions Policy and implementation, Tarek Fahmy.

It is noteworthy that a group of British MPs signed a letter to Johnson ahead of the forum warning the government against pursuing investment in a country rife with corruption and where the president is wanted for human rights violations.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Machar-led rebels invited for IGAD high-level revitalization forum

Sudan Tribune - Wed, 13/12/2017 - 05:28

December 12, 2017 (KAMPALA) - South Sudan's armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) has been invited to attend the high-level peace revitalization forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 17-22 December.

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

“You may recall that the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] assembly of heads of state and government at its 31st extra-ordinary summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 12 June, 2017, decided to urgently convene a High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), including estranged groups,” the letter signed by Ethiopia's prime minister partly reads.

In the 8 December letter addressed to Riek Machar, organizers of the meeting said they consider as key measures to restore a permanent ceasefire, full and inclusive implementation of the peace agreement and revise realistic timelines and implementation schedules towards democratic election at the end of the transitional period.

The High-Level revitalization forum will kick off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 18-22 December after the extraordinary session of the IGAD council of ministers due to take place from15-16 December.

“Your Excellency, all participants to the HLRF will be representing their respective parties. Hence, I wish to kindly request you to delegate three (03) duly- authorized representatives of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM-IO) who will participate in the forum. In this regard, I recommend that at least one of the delegates could be a woman”, further states the letter.

“I strongly believe your Excellency that your wise leadership in this important initiative to revitalize the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) is very critical,” it adds.

The Ethiopian prime minister said in the letter that he was optimistic the armed opposition group will seize this historic opportunity to engage earnestly to revitalize the ARCSS, cease all forms of hostilities, end the conflicts and re-establish a firm foundation to building sustainable peace, stability and democracy in the war-torn nation.

The Troika countries earlier called a conducive environment for the peace revitalization process and warned that sanctions would be imposed on those who violate the ceasefire and obstruct humanitarian assistance ahead of the IGAD-brokered peace forum.

In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided to convene a meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation. During the June summit, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.

The South Sudanese government earlier warned that the revitalization forum by the regional bloc, which mediated the 2015 peace deal, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace accord between the two factions to the conflict.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir sacked Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan's worst violence since it seceded from Sudan in July 2011.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

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