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IGAD calls on the Sudanese parties to finalize deal on power transfer

Sudan Tribune - Sun, 19/05/2019 - 04:32


May 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called on the Sudanese stakeholders to finalize negotiations on power handover to a civilian-led government.

Negotiating teams from the military council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change will resume talks on Sunday after a three-day suspension. They are supposed to discuss the last sticking point on the percentage of representation of each party to the Council of sovereignty.

"IGAD sincerely hopes that the Sudanese Political Stakeholders will continue to negotiate in good faith and a spirit of compromise to finalize their discussion on the remaining outstanding issues with a view to responding to the needs and aspirations of the Sudanese people," said the regional block on Saturday.

The statement comes after the IGAD participation in a meeting convened by the State Department in Washington on Friday to discuss support to democratic transition in Sudan and to ensure power transfer to a civilian-led government.

The IGAD which is chaired by Ethiopia voiced its support to a statement issued by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on 15 May 2019 on the progress being made towards reaching an agreement for a political transition in Sudan.

Also, it vowed to continue to work closely with the African Union in helping move the political transition process forward.

The African Union has given two months to the army hand over power to a civilian government.

The regional organisation further appointed Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt, as special envoy to Sudan to oversee the AU's technical support to the political transition process in Sudan.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

African Union, UN condemn looting of UNAMID base in West Darfur

Sudan Tribune - Sun, 19/05/2019 - 03:49


May 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The African Union and the United Nations condemned the looting of the premises of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Western Darfur state, but the military governor said the UNAMID officials were in part responsible for the attack.

On 14 May 2019, the eve of UNAMID's scheduled handover of its headquarters in El Geneina to the Sudanese authorities, an uncontrollable crowd forcefully intruded into the 16 km camp where they looted UN property and contingent-owned-equipment, vandalized premises, according to a statement released by the mission.

In reaction to this unprecedented development, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Sma?l Chergui and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix issued a joint statement to express their strong condemnation of the attack and the looting.

"They are extremely concerned by such unprovoked attacks on UNAMID, which has diligently and resolutely provided security to the people of Darfur since 2007," said the joint statement.

Chergui and Lacroix further stressed that UNAMID's withdrawal process from Darfur will continue as per the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council.

The UNAMID dispatched troop from its new Headquarters in Zalingei and Saraf Umra to El Geneina to strengthen to protect the site before the planned handover of the camp on 15 May.

In a news conference held on Saturday, Maj-Gen Abdel Khaliq Badawi Mahmoud, the governor of West Darfur state, condemned the attacks and looting on the headquarters of the UNAMID in El Geneina.

Mahmoud said that there were several factors that caused the incident, including obstacles set by the administration of the Mission and procrastination in completing the handover process and the behaviour of some of its employees.

The governor said that the procrastination and methods adopted by the UNAMID staff with the state committee for the site handover contributed to the stampede of citizens in large numbers from West Darfur and neighbouring states and the attack on the site.

He added that the security authorities seized a large number of equipment sold by the base officials to companies and individuals after classifying it as not valid for use.

He added that they were surprised that the same pieces of equipment are in good condition and sold in the local markets. He added they sized these materials and equipment until the completion of the investigation.

The official news agency SUNA said that the material damage caused by the attack was estimated at 500 million US dollars.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

The fear of political reforms in South Sudan

Sudan Tribune - Sun, 19/05/2019 - 02:16

By Duop Chak Wuol

In his Easter message, President Salva Kiir called on the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), Dr Riek Machar, to go to Juba to form a transitional government. so that the two leaders could form a provisional government as stipulated in the September 2018 peace agreement. To be precise, President Kiir urged Dr Machar at least two times to accept his invitation but the SPLM-IO leader refused, saying he could only accept the formation of a transitional government if security arrangements were implemented first. Dr Machar also said the May 12 dateline was too close and demanded that six months extension be given to allow the parties to implement peace provisions before a government is formed. In separate interviews, Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Teny and Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial advanced Kiir's call by asserting claims that are rather anti-peace. Ateny proclaimed in an interview that peace already returned to the country and that Machar should not worry about his security because the government guaranteed his safety. On the other hand, Nhial, who was in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the time of his interview, declared that the best way for the establishment of a transitional government to be delayed is if the SPLM-IO and other opposition parties submit an official request to the government, asking for an extension. All the claims presented by the three men are self-serving, intentionally designed to avoid what the agreements stipulate; in fact, these claims represent the essence of fear in the minds of those who tend to embrace tyranny and reject political, military, and economic reforms in the country.

There is no doubt that Kiir is fishing for the best way he can use to silence his political opponents for good. He tried many deceptive techniques to no avail. Kiir met Pope Francis on March 16, 2019, and assured the Pope that he and his rivals are serious about peace and that they are open to visit the Holy See for the sake of peace. Fortunately, the Pope agreed. This is what led to the April 10-11, 2019 “spiritual retreat” at the Vatican. Remember, the Pope kissed the feet of South Sudanese leaders to encourage them to bring about lasting peace in the nation.

Days after Kiir returned to Juba, he contacted Dr Machar, asking him to go to Juba to form a transitional government. Machar was stunned because the main provisions of the peace deal popularly known as “security arrangements” have not been implemented. To refresh your mind, Kiir seems to enjoy meeting the Pope and playing the “I want the peace card.” The March and April 2019 meetings are not the first. In November 2015, Kiir met with Pope Francis in Uganda for only 15 minutes. There, he claimed he was going to end the war, which later turned out to be a naked lie. I am glad the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) agreed with Dr. Machar's request to extend the pre-transitional period so that the parties to pact can implement the security arrangements. In a rather cunning move, Salva Kiir gave an interview after IGAD extended South Sudan's pre-transitional period for six months so that the parties to deal could have time to implement all vital provisions of the pact. What is disturbing about this particular interview is the fact that he wanted the six months period already approved by the IGAD to be one year.

Kiir has no plan to fully implement the pact. He recently refused to participate at the May 2-3, 2019 peace talks in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. Kiir did not produce any good reason for his failure to show up at the talks. However, he insisted that his delegation will represent him at peace talks, even though he is the one who is impeding the implementation of security arrangements. It is now clear that Kiir orchestrated the April 2019 “spiritual retreat” in the hopes that he will be able to manipulate his political adversaries—especially Dr Machar. This is the very reason why Kiir called on Dr Machar days after he returned to Juba and asked the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition leader to join him for the formation of a provisional government. Kiir is not ready for peace because he enjoys his dictatorial leadership. For instance, he is happy whenever he hires or dismisses a government official on the violence-infused, notorious, and state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC). For him to see some of his current powers gone, he prefers to keep the same tyrannical system, regardless of what other people say. The man prefers to bribe or pay millions of dollars to anyone he sees as a threat to his ruthless regime. This is what he has been doing for nearly six years. In April, he secretly paid millions of dollars to Sudan's new military ruling council in a bid to gain their support after they forced Omar al-Bashir out of power, let alone the $3.7 million dollars he recently paid to a U.S.-based lobbying firm, Gainful Solutions, in an attempt to repair his tainted image.

There is no doubt that Salva Kiir is not prepared to fully implement the September 2018 peace agreement. The man is a mad tyrant who is determined to continue ruling with impunity. His campaign against South Sudanese youths who proposed a May 16 demonstration against his cruelty shows he is addicted to staying in power with his callous leadership style. Kiir, who visibly seemed to be infuriated by the Red Card Movement told a handful of journalists that “Violent attempts to usurp power from the people would be met with violent resistance and the cycle of violence cannot end. The way to stability in South Sudan is through democracy and democratic elections, and this is what we fought for and we will not compromise it.” If one analyzes Kiir's assertions methodically, one would conclude that the man's oppressive mindset is alive and well. He believes threatening people with death would discourage them because he knows that is what he does every day. Kiir's behaviour displays an indisputably consistent pattern embraced by his political sycophants.

Last week, his divisive Information minister Michael Makuey Lueth, who also has a documented history of ordering the killing of South Sudanese civilians, lashed out at the Red Card Movement on or about May 7, 2019. The information minister used a rather outrageous language by suggesting that those who want to protest against Kiir's brutal regime want to die. This led to Kiir's ordering his military to occupy the Freedom Square in Juba: this move was an attempt by Juba's Kleptocratic regime to prevent people from protesting. But this murderous regime deceptively tried on May 15, 2019, to minimize the backlash of the army deployment by claiming that the positioning of military and security personnel was simply for an upcoming holiday. This claim does not make any logical sense—in fact, it is too naked to believe.

Theoretically, Salva Kiir is for peace. However, he hates most of the key provisions stipulated in the pact. For example, Kiir does not like the idea of a hybrid court, dissolution of powers, constitutional amendments, budget allocation for the Sudan People's Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces, the issue of internal boundaries, and the reunification of the armies.

What is preventing Kiir from implementing the agreement is his fear of reforms. He does not want political, military, security, or economic reforms to be instituted in the constitution, let alone his new campaign against the Red Card Movement. He knows very well that if he allows reforms to take place, then his current brutal rule—which he seems to enjoy—will collapse, and this could eventually lead to his downfall. In a logical sense, he is a tyrant who champions destruction, looting of national coffers, and divisions along ethnic lines. What he does not know is the fact that his leadership will not last forever. There will be a time when he is faced with the bitter reality of his own cruelty. He must abandon this irrational fear of reforms or else he risks being remembered in the history of South Sudan as a brutal tyrant whose rule was the embodiment of South Sudan's destruction.

Duop Chak Wuol is the editor-in-chief of the South Sudan News Agency (https://southsudannewsagency.org/. He can be reached at duop282@gmail.com. Note: The views expressed in this article are his and should not be attributed to the South Sudan News Agency.

Categories: Africa

Sudan arrests perpetrators of attacks on protesters: Hemetti

Sudan Tribune - Sun, 19/05/2019 - 02:13


May 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemetti), who is also the deputy head of the military council on Saturday announced the arrest of culprits who attacked the sit-inners near the protest site during the past days.

At least six people were killed and about 100 were wounded on Monday in a shooting attack on protesters in the vicinity of the army headquarters. Also, about 14 others were injured in a similar attack on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses claimed that the perpetrators were wearing RSF uniforms and were using their vehicles., but the ruling TMC dismissed the charge.

"Those who carried out the attack against the sit-inners were arrested and recorded judicial confessions, which will be broadcasted in the media during the day," Hemetti said during a Ramadan breakfast organized by the Native Administration in Khartoum.

The military official did not disclose the identity of the perpetrators, but transitional council members told Western ambassadors on Thursday that the attacks were carried out by "irregular" groups.

Hemetti further accused some circles saying they work, through some countries, to distort the image of Rapid Support Forces without developing about the hostile campaign against his militiamen who are accused of human rights abuses.

He stressed the determination of the military council to hold accountable all corrupt leaders of the former regime.

"They are now either in prison or fugitive, and anyone who fled will be hunted. Those who are outside Sudan have been identified," he asserted.

The TMC deputy head further said that the country has no prisons to arrest all the corrupt members of the former ruling party of President Omer al-Bashir, adding they will pursue their corrupt leaders.

Ahead of the talks that will resume Sunday, Hemetti praised the role of the opposition Freedom and Change Forces in the regime change.

"These brothers have an organization and a high technology that even bypassed the State (apparatus). They were able to remove the regime and without them, (the ousted regime) would rule (the country) for an additional thirty years."

"We want the democracy they talk about, we want real democracy and free and fair elections. The one who rules the country will be chosen by the Sudanese people,"
he went further to say.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudan's military, opposition resume talks on power transfer Sunday

Sudan Tribune - Sun, 19/05/2019 - 00:13


May 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's transitional military junta on Saturday announced the resumption of negotiations with the opposition groups that led 4-month protests against the former regime on Sunday.

"The Transitional Council announces the resumption of negotiations with the Declaration of the Forces of Freedom and Change on Sunday, 14 Ramadan, 19 May 2019 at the Presidential Palace," the military media said in a brief statement.

During the first hours of Thursday, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan the head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) suspended for 72-hours the discussions with the opposition forces over the power transition process. He required that the opposition removes roadblocks from the streets around the protest site outside the army headquarters.

The suspension also came after attempts by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to open the roads and attacks on protesters that killed 5 civilians and one army officer. The TMC denied the responsibility for the attacks and ordered an investigation.

On Monday and Tuesday, the two sides agreed that the duration of the transitional period will be for three years and that the parliament will be composed of 300 appointed lawmakers. Also, the technocrat government will be appointed by the opposition groups.

Opposition sources confirmed to Sudan Tribune the receipt of an invitation to resume negotiations on Sunday.

"The outstanding points can be resolved within one hour if the military showed seriousness and genuine desire to end the current state of political tension," the source said.

The upcoming round of talks is expected to discuss the proportions of representation in the sovereign council, which will include civilians and military alike.

Al-Burhan's military council is under regional and international pressures to expedite the transfer of power.

In a meeting held in Washington on Friday, U.S. EU diplomats discussed was to ensure and support power handover to a civilian-led government. The meeting was also attended by the UN, African Union and IGAD officials.

For their part, U.S. lawmakers urged Trump Administration to press the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to not encourage the military council to keep power.

The two Gulf countries announced a $3 billion aid support to Sudan after the removal of the Islamist president Omer al-Bashir.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudanese Islamists protest against power handover to civilians

Sudan Tribune - Sat, 18/05/2019 - 05:58


May 17, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An Islamist radical group led by Abdel Wahid Youssef in Khartoum voiced its rejection to any political understanding between the military council and the opposition forces of freedom and change.

The group organized protests in five mosques in Khartoum after Friday prayer to defend the Islamic laws and to voice their objection to any attempt to repeal it after the collapse of the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

The Support the Sharia and the Rule of Law, an extremist group, reiterated the peacefulness of their protests saying it would be limited to processions and speeches.

However, the videos posted by the protesters on the social media show the weak mobilization of the demonstrations.

Speaking to the demonstrators outside his mosque, Youssef said some members of the transitional military council are opposed to the deal with the freedom and change forces.

"There are people in the military junta who contacted us and they reject the agreement to hand over power," he said alluding to ongoing talks between the Council and the opposition groups over power handover.

He further said they plan to organize a protest to the Sudanese presidency on Saturday.

Two weeks ago the military council banned a protest he planned to organize.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

U.S. lawmakers urge to press for power transfer to civilians in Sudan

Sudan Tribune - Sat, 18/05/2019 - 04:56


May 17, 2019 (WASHINGTON) - US lawmakers urged the Treasury and the State Departments to work to ensure a rapid transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional government in Sudan.

In a letter addressed to Mike Pompeo Secretary of State and Steven Mnuchin Secretary of the Treasury on Thursday, 77 Senators and Congressmen expressed their "deep concern" about the current situation in Sudan pointing out to the potential risks that represent the military council and foreign interference.

The lawmakers said that the military council does not meet the aspiration of Sudanese for a civilian-led democratic change.

"A government dominated by the military is not the goal of the Sudanese people and the longer the protestors' demands remain unfulfilled, there is increased probability of conflict like the violence against protestors, deaths and injuries that occurred this week," reads the letter seen by Sudan Tribune.

"We encourage you to use all mechanisms and leverage to facilitate, as quickly as possible, an inclusive civilian-led transition to democratic governance," they further stressed.

Further, they pressed the U.S. administration to use diplomatic and political channels to dissuade countries in the region that voiced support to the military council to not encourage them to keep power.

"In this regard, we are dismayed by the announcement from the Governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that they intend to provide Sudan with $3 billion in budget support and aid".

The bipartisan letter proposed a series of measures that should be taken to support the democratic transition in Sudan including increasing the capacity building of civilian leadership and civil society and to provide the transitional civilian authorities with technical and capacity-building assistance.

"The United States, in consultation with Congress, should signal its willingness to engage with and support international financial institutions in aiding Sudan once civilian-led transitional authorities are in place and functioning," reads the letter.

The State Department last April decided to maintain Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and to stop talks on its removal from the terror list.

Tibor Nagy the U.S. State Department's assistant secretary on Friday held a meeting with Western partners, AU, IGAD and UN to consider ways to support for a civilian-led transitional government.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

UN expert condemns bloody attacks on Sudanese protesters

Sudan Tribune - Sat, 18/05/2019 - 02:58


May 17, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - UN human rights expert on Sudan Friday condemned the excessive use of force against protesters demanding a civilian-led transition in Sudan.

On 13 and 14 May, Six people, 5 protesters and one army officer were, were killed and over 100 injured during attacks by armed troops that the army says they are not part of the regular forces but the opposition says they are part of the Rapid Support Forces.

However, the army admitted that it dispatched forces to remove the roadblocks.

"The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, called on the Transitional Military Council to uphold its responsibility to provide protection for peaceful protesters all over Sudan, allowing them to express their views and concerns on the future of their country through peaceful means," said a statement released in Geneva.

"He also urged the Declaration of Freedom and Change forces to also take appropriate measures to ensure peaceful protests and prevent provocative actions during protests," he added.

The expert further welcomed the decision by the military council to establish an investigative committee into the recent violence.

"The authorities must conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the reported killings and use of force against protesters that occurred since the start of the protests on 19 December 2018, to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice," he said.

In addition, he "strongly" urged the Sudanese military and security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid further escalation of violence and to take immediate measures to protect the constitutional rights of the Sudanese people.

In line with the African Union's Peace and Security Council decision of 30 April, the expert called for the resumption of talks on power transfer to a civilian-led government within the 60-day deadline.

Sudanese opposition criticized the decision of the military council to suspend talks for three days after the bloody violence. Also, they rejected accusations that the expansion of barricades by the protesters created chaos in the capital.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

U.S., Western diplomats discuss ways to support Sudan's civilian-led government

Sudan Tribune - Sat, 18/05/2019 - 01:52


May 17, 2019 (WASHINGTON) - United States, and western partners Friday discussed in Washington ways to support a civilian-led democratic transition in Sudan and called for the resumption of talks to finalize an agreement on power handover.

The meeting which was convened by Tibor Nagy the U.S. State Department's assistant secretary for Africa was attended by diplomats from the African Union, United Nations, European Union, Ethiopia as the chair of IGAD, Germany, France, the UK and Norway.

In tweets he posted after the meeting, Nagy said the participants "committed to coordinating efforts to encourage the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition to reach an agreement as soon as possible on an interim government that is truly civilian-led and reflects the will of the Sudanese people".

On Tuesday 14 May, the TMC and Sudanese opposition forces agreed to a three-year transitional period also the FFC forces would have two-thirds of the seats on a legislative assembly.

However, after the shooting on civilians for the second day the army cancelled a meeting that had to discuss the composition of a sovereign council.

The TMC spoke about infiltrators saying they were behind the attack. They pointed to the need to create conducive atmosphere saying the opposition forces have three days to remove the roadblocks before to resume discussions.

Nagy said the meeting called on the Sudanese parties to immediately resume talks and discussed ways to support the standing-up of a civilian-led government.

"We also discussed ways to support a civilian-led interim government in the future to implement the political and economic reforms and institution building needed for a stable transitional period leading to free and fair elections in Sudan, and to facilitate economic growth and prosperity," he stressed.

The 30-year rule of Islamists in Sudan led to the isolation of the east African nation which is in the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and faces important economic challenges besides internal armed conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas.

According to the U.S. top diplomat for Africa, he and the other participants underlined their support for the African Union's efforts in Sudan particularly the decision of the Peace and Security Council to give the TMC two-month delay to hand over power to a civilian-led government.

The meeting, also, voiced concern about the recent violence directed by "security forces against protesters", and called on the military council to allow peaceful protests and hold accountable those responsible for recent violence.

Five civilians and one military were killed and over a hundred protesters were injured following attacks on Monday and Tuesday by Sudanese security forces on protesters in the streets surrounding the sit-in area outside the arm headquarters in Khartoum.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Sudan opposition alliance reiterates support for Boutros faction

Sudan Tribune - Fri, 17/05/2019 - 04:50


May 16, 2019 (JUBA) - The South Sudan Opposition Alliance voiced its support to Khalid Boutros, the leader of a National Salvation Front (NAS) faction that joined the revitalized peace agreement.

Boutros's chairmanship of the group recently was put at risk by a member of his faction called Gasim Barnaba Kisanga, who declared himself as the new chairman of NAS.

"We condemn such irresponsible political opportunism in the strongest possible terms and caution any anti-peace elements who are trying to detract the focus of SSOA member parties," said SSOA spokesperson Stephan Lual in a statement to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

The statement urged the faction members who broke away from Boutros to reconsider to "come back to their Party or risk being isolated".

The IGAD mediation refuses to acknowledge the splinter groups to discourage the proliferation of dissents. Also, it needs to Juba's consent if it considers to integrate them into the peace process for the non-signatory groups.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Attacks on protesters carried out by infiltrators: TMC tells ambassadors

Sudan Tribune - Fri, 17/05/2019 - 04:17


May 16, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Transitional Military Council (TMC) told Western ambassadors in Sudan that the attacks on civilians at the protest sites were carried out by "groups not belonging to the regular forces."

According to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, the Council's spokesperson, Lt- Gen Shams al-Din Kabbashi and the Chairman of the TMC Security Committee, Mustafa Mohamed Mustafa met Thursday with ambassadors of the European Union, the United States and Canada and the United Nations Resident Representative in Khartoum.

The director of the Department of European and American Affairs in the ministry Siddiq Mohamed Abdallah said in a press statement that the head of the security committee briefed the Western diplomats on the circumstances surrounding the events on Monday and Wednesday and pointed out that it was "caused by groups not belonging to the regular forces."

The military council said it formed an investigation committee to identify the assailants.

At least eight people were killed and more than 100 injured on Monday when protesters were shot directly by regular forces trying to remove roadblocks set up by the sit-inners on the road.

Witnesses confirmed that the assailants were using SUVs and wearing the uniforms of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), but the militia leader denied the charge.

The assaults were repeated on Wednesday when at least 14 of the demonstrators were attacked by regular troops who attempted to remove the barricades. Also, witnesses said they belong to the RSF militiamen.

According to the Sudanese diplomat, the ambassadors posed some questions in this regard and were answered.

He explained that al-Kabbashi who is also a member of the TMC political committee briefed the ambassadors about the political developments in the country.

He spoke about the outcome of negotiations between the transitional military council and the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the reasons that led to the suspension of negotiations between them in order to create the needed conditions for reaching a settlement on the issues for negotiation, as he said.

On Wednesday chairman decided to suspend the talks for three days saying they would resume discussions only when the barricades are removed.

In a related development, the British Ambassador to Sudan Ifran Siddiq said he met with TMC on Thursday for their explanation of the suspension of talks.

The "TMC claims environment not conducive given escalation: expansion of roadblocks, blocking of the railway line, worsening security and hostile statements from FFC (Forces for Freedom and Change)," Siddiq said in a tweet posted on Thursday.

The British diplomat added he urged the TMC to resume talks as soon as possible.

"Progress made was significant and it seemed strange to suspend (talks) at this point and risk losing all gains made. Delay also creates a vacuum that could lead to further instability," he stressed.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Kiir calls to develop cooperation with Sudan

Sudan Tribune - Fri, 17/05/2019 - 03:05

May 16, 2019 (JUBA) - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir congratulated Sudanese people for the victory of their revolution and called to develop cooperation between the two countries.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir arrives in Khartoum on September 3, 2013 (AFP Ashraf Shazly)

Kiir made his remarks during a speech before the transitional parliament on Tuesday 14 May where he spoke about the ongoing implementation of the peace process and his government efforts to ensure its successful achievement.

" I want to congratulate the Sudanese people for their victory and to express our solidarity with them" adding that "The people and government of South Sudan fully support the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful, democratic and secular nation".

He called to include the armed groups from Darfur, Kordofan and the Blue Nile in the transitional period stressing it provides an opportunity to achieve a comprehensive peace and to engender a new political dispensation in the country.

"The Republic of South Sudan, being a sisterly country offers to mediate among different actors to achieve a comprehensive peace in our sisterly country," he added.

The South Sudanese leader was referring to his offer to reconcile between the SPLM-N factions and to bring them to negotiate with Khartoum a lasting peace agreement.

Earlier this month, the SPLM-N led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu declined the reunification of the group and thanked President Kiir for his efforts stressing it was an issue on the vision not a difference between persons.

However, Kiir said the prospect of a democratic transition in Sudan is anticipated in South Sudan with hopes of peaceful relations between the two countries.

"Our two sisterly nations can prosper in collaboration and cooperation and my government shall do its utmost to ensure lasting peace between them," he emphasized.

Kiir who was the Sudanese first vice-president before the independence had always thanked al-Bashir saying he agreed to proceed with South Sudan's referendum for the independence in 2011.

Al-Bashir also helped Kiir during the negotiations on the revitalized peace agreement as he bridged the gaps between him and opposition leader Riek Machar.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Central African Republic: Don’t Reward Warlords

HRW / Africa - Thu, 25/04/2019 - 04:27
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From left to right: Sidiki Abass, Mahamat Al Khatim, and Ali Darassa.

© Human Rights Watch; © Edouard Dropsy for Human Rights Watch; © 2016 CNC

(Nairobi) – Prosecutors in the Central African Republic should investigate militia leaders recently awarded government positions.

On March 24, a presidential decree named the armed groups leaders Ali Darassa, leader of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique, UPC), Mahamat Al Khatim, leader of the Central African Patriotic Movement (Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique, MPC), and Sidiki Abass (also known as Bi Sidi Souleymane), commander of a group called Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation, or 3R, as special military advisers to the prime minister’s office. All three have led armed groups responsible for widespread atrocities in recent years, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. These posts were granted as a concession to the armed groups under a peace accord signed in February 2019 in Khartoum, Sudan.

“Ali Darassa’s appointment as a military adviser for the area where his men may have committed war crimes should not be used to give him immunity from investigation into the UPC’s abuses,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Against this backdrop, senior United Nations and African Union officials should make clear to all the victims of UPC abuses that there can be no lasting peace without justice for those heinous crimes.”

On April 15, in Bambari, Darassa participated in a ceremony presenting future members of special mixed units. The units will incorporate both national military and rebel fighters. This ceremony was attended by the UN Under-Secretary General of Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix; the AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui; and the country’s prime minister, Firmin Ngrebada. Human Rights Watch has documented serious abuses by the UPC since 2014, when the group took control of the town of Bambari, in the center of the country, including targeted killings of civilians, extrajudicial executions, attacks on displacement camps, and rape.

Percée remarquable dans la mise en oeuvre de l'accord de paix en #RCA avec cette visite conjointe #UA -#UN et Premier Ministre à Bambari et premieres retrouvailles des FACA,anti balaka et UPC dans cadre Unités Mixtes de Securité. pic.twitter.com/GuUwr24m7v

— Amb. Smail Chergui (@AU_Chergui) April 15, 2019

Fighters under Al Khatim’s command have committed war crimes, including attacks on civilians, since 2015 when his group, which controls territory in the center of the country, was created. He was named military adviser for special mixed units in the center north zone.

Abass’s 3R group has killed civilians, raped, and caused large-scale displacement in the northwest zone since 2015. Abass was named military adviser to special mixed units in the northwest zone.

The appointments were made in line with a peace accord, negotiated by the AU during 18 months of talks with 14 armed groups and the central government, often while the groups continued their brutal attacks on civilians. The accord seeks to “definitively eliminate” the causes of the conflict and promote national reconciliation and calls for some fighters from armed groups to be incorporated into “special mixed security units,” which would also include members of the country’s national security forces. Armed group leaders promised to end “all hostilities and forms of violence.”

The accord is vague on steps needed to ensure post-conflict justice and does not mention specific judicial processes, or recent efforts to promote justice in the country, though it recognizes the role impunity has played in entrenching violence. The Special Criminal Court, a new court in the domestic system mandated to try war crimes and crimes against humanity, was established in recognition of the cycles of impunity that have driven conflict in the country and formally began operations in 2018. The court has significant support from the UN, including the international peacekeeping force on the ground since September 2014, known as MINUSCA.

Activists and victims have expressed deep concern that the agreement will be used to sideline justice for past crimes.

In 2014, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened investigations into crimes committed in the Central African Republic since August 2012. The court arrested two leaders of the anti-balaka militias that were parties to the conflict, Alfred Yékatom and Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, in late 2018.

The current crisis began in late 2012, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President François Bozizé and seized power through a campaign of violence and terror. In response, anti-balaka groups were formed and began carrying out reprisal attacks on Muslim civilians in mid-2013.

Victims of crimes committed by the UPC, MPC, and 3R have expressed anger and frustration to Human Rights Watch since the new posts were announced.

“How could the government and the international community dare to nominate and install this man as an official?” a 30-year-old survivor of a rape by a UPC fighter told Human Rights Watch. “How could they promote and validate someone whose men killed, raped, burned villages, and tortured the population? I have lost the strength and hope to try to seek justice because Darassa is now charged by the state with my security.”

A 45-year old man from Ngakobo, an area that has seen repeated UPC attacks on civilians at a displacement camp, told Human Rights Watch that UPC fighters had threatened civilians in the Boykotta area in the last two weeks. “We were always told Darassa would face justice, but now the person whose men killed us is charged with our security?” he said. “It is not logical.”

In February 2017, Darassa and the UPC left Bambari in response to a MINUSCA request. UPC fighters are alleged to have shot at UN peacekeepers in 2015, which may constitute a war crime under international law. Fighting broke out between peacekeepers and UPC fighters in January 2019, when UPC fighters killed two policemen outside of Bambari ahead of a visit by the country’s president. The fighting resulted in a UN attack on a large UPC base at Bokolobo, 60 kilometers south of Bambari.

On April 19, the Central African government and MINUSCA issued a news release stating that although Darassa is a special adviser, he has not been given an official security role for the town of Bambari. The news release also states that the mixed units, when operational, will be under the command of the national army.

MPC fighters participated in an egregious attack in October 2016, when they killed at least 37 civilians, wounded 57, and forced thousands to flee a camp for displaced people in Kaga-Bandoro, where some 7,000 people were living, after being displaced by fighting in the region. Fighters destroyed at least 175 homes in the neighborhoods around the displacement camp and destroyed at least 435 huts in the camp itself.

In 2016, Human Rights Watch documented the killing of scores of civilians and received reports that 3R fighters raped at least 23 women and girls in Koui sub-prefectures in Ouham Pendé province. Attacks on civilians and nongovernmental organizations continued into at least 2017.

The installation of Darassa in his official capacity in Bambari and the appointments of Al Khatim and Sidiki is difficult to reconcile with the principles of the Bangui Forum, the conclusions of national consultations held in May 2015, Human Rights Watch said. Its declaration states that “no amnesty” would be tolerated for those responsible for and acting as accomplices in international crimes. The forum brought together more than 800 representatives of community and other nongovernmental organizations, political parties, and armed groups from across the country. It recognized that the lack of justice in the Central African Republic since 2003 was one of the main causes of successive crises.

“The Bangui Forum made it clear that the way forward for peace in the Central African Republic is to say no to impunity, and that should be respected,” Mudge said. “These militia leaders should be investigated with the intent to prosecute based on the evidence, and the national government, the UN, and the AU should strongly support efforts to hold key figures responsible for these crimes to account and make justice a reality for victims.”

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