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Updated: 1 month 1 day ago

UK's agency warns on wave of dirty money from South Sudan

Sat, 07/03/2020 - 10:59

March 7, 2020 (LONDON) – The United Kingdom's National Crime Agency (NCA) Thursday released the first-ever alert warning against money laundering by corrupt South Sudanese officials in the British territory.

"The NCA is issuing this alert to companies based in the United Kingdom (UK) about the possibility that some South Sudanese senior foreign public officials (..) who may be engaged in corruption and human rights abuses in South Sudan, and those who enable such activities, may use the UK financial system to move or hide proceeds of corruption or purchase real estate and other assets in the UK," read the statement.

The law enforcement agency called for the collaboration of the UK companies, particularly financial institutions, real estate agencies, accountants, lawyers, notaries, and others to identify suspicious activities by corrupt South Sudanese.

"This report focuses on corrupt South Sudanese senior foreign political figures or PEPs who engage in human rights abuses or violations, and their financial enablers," said the report.

On 6 September 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department alerted the financial institutions about the possibility that certain South Sudanese senior political figures may try to use the U.S. financial system to move or hide proceeds of public corruption.

The U.S. investigation group, The Sentry, released a report in September 2019 to denounce international partners who work with corrupt South Sudanese officials to clean their looted money through the international banking system.

George Clooney and John Prendergast, the co-founders of The Sentry, welcomed the alert of the UK's lead law enforcement agency on South Sudan.

"The UK should be strongly commended for joining the United States in serious efforts to counter the criminal exploitation of the global financial system at the expense of millions of suffering, abused, and displaced people in South Sudan," said Clooney.

"Today, peace in South Sudan is possible, but only if the nations of the world recognize their responsibility to counter the greed-fueled networks that profit from massive suffering and human rights abuse,” added Prendergast.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

NAS's Cirilo says new government will not bring peace in South Sudan

Sat, 07/03/2020 - 09:22

March 7, 2020 (JUBA) - Thomas Cirilo the head of the National Salvation Front (NAS) has cautioned South Sudanese that the formation of the transitional government will not bring peace in the country.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka, the ex-SPLA deputy chief of general staff for training (youtube photo)

On Thursday Cirilo issued a statement to mark the third anniversary of NAS establishment on 6 March 2017.

"The National Salvation Front would like to caution the people of South Sudan on this historic day that the recent political development in the country is not the dawn of peace in South Sudan. I urge you to be vigilant and not to allow yourselves to be deceived," he said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

The opposition leader who rejected the revitalized peace agreement of 12 September 2018 described what is taking place in Juba nowadays as a distribution of positions among the political elite in "total disregard" to the aspirations of the people.

"The R-TGONU cannot address state failures and effect reforms when it is the main beneficiary of these failures," he stressed.

He further pointed out that a sustainable peace can only be effective when the root causes of the conflict are addressed in an credible and inclusive process.

A genuine peace requires to address "the issues of governance, security sector establishment, ethnic domination, justice and accountability, management of the people's resources, and land issues among others," he said.

NAS and its allied holdout groups in the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) have engaged peace talks with the government in a process mediated this time by the religious community of Sant'Egidio.

The government and SSOMA signed the Declaration on the Peace Process in South Sudan on 12 January 2020; and Rome Resolution on Monitoring and Verification of CoHA 2017 on 13th February 2020.

The parties are expected to resume talks after the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Sudan's New Government: SPLM-IO satisfied with its positions as SSOA frustrated

Sat, 07/03/2020 - 08:18

March 7, 2020 (JUBA) - The SPLM-IO on Thursday said they have gotten several important ministries in the national unity government including defence, oil and federal affairs, while the SSOA expressed dissatisfaction over the power-sharing.

Citing an SPLM-IO spokesman the Chinese news agency Xinhua said President Salva Kiir and his First Vice-President Riek Machar have finally agreed on Thursday to share the important ministerial positions ahead of the formation of the government next week.

"We agreed that SPLM-IO should take defence, petroleum, mining, federal affairs, peacebuilding, water resources and irrigation, energy and dams, health, and gender and social welfare ministries," said Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

SPLM-IO officials said last week they were seeking for a genuine partnership enabling them to work together with the SPLM-IG of President Kiir and the other peace signatories to implement the revitalized peace agreement.

After obtaining the defence and federal affairs ministries, the SPLM-IO can play a pivotal role in the reunification of the government and opposition forces. In the same vein, the federal affairs will allow the former main opposition group to speed up discussions on the number of states and their boundaries.

Gatkuoth further said they want to ensure that at least one of the three areas established recently be headed by an SPLM-IO official.

"We are also discussing with the president the issue of the three administrative areas. At least one administrative area should go to the SPLM-IO," he said.

SSOA ANGRED

For its part, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance rejected the three ministries allocated to the coalition and warned they may not participate in the national unity government.

An SSOA official told Sudan Tribune under the cover of anonymity that they have been surprised when they learnt that they have obtained the ministries of public service and higher education instead of the peace and labour ministries

He added that also the position of the deputy information minister was substituted by the deputy interior minister.

The only unchanged position is the ministry of agriculture.

"Those changes happened without consultation with the SSOA Leadership," he said.

"The SSOA does accept and would not be part of the R-TGONU unless these issues are discussed and settled before the formation of the R-TGONU," he stressed.

The parties are scheduled to meet on Saturday to discuss the matter.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

The Gender Power Gap

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 21:00

By UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Gender inequality is the overwhelming injustice of our age and the biggest human rights challenge we face. But gender equality offers solutions to some of the most intractable problems of our age.

Everywhere, women are worse off than men – simply because they are women. The reality for women from minorities, older women, those with disabilities and women migrants and refugees is even worse.

While we have seen enormous progress on women's rights over recent decades, from the abolition of discriminatory laws to increased numbers of girls in school, we now face a powerful pushback. Legal protections against rape and domestic abuse are being diluted in some countries while policies that penalize women, from austerity to coercive reproduction, are being introduced in others. Women's sexual and reproductive rights are under threat from all sides.

All this is because gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. Centuries of discrimination and deep-rooted patriarchy have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems and our corporations. The evidence is everywhere.

Women are still excluded from the top table, from governments to corporate boards to prestigious award ceremonies. Women leaders and public figures face harassment, threats and abuse online and off. The gender pay gap is just a symptom of the gender power gap.
Even the supposedly neutral data that informs decision-making from urban planning to drug testing is often based on a “default male”; men are seen as standard while women are an exception.

Women and girls also contend with centuries of misogyny and the erasure of their achievements. They are ridiculed as hysterical or hormonal; they are routinely judged on their looks; they are subjected to endless myths and taboos about their natural bodily functions; they are confronted by everyday sexism, mansplaining and victim-blaming.

This profoundly affects us all and is a barrier to solving many of the challenges and threats we face.

Take inequality. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The latest research by the World Economic Forum says it will take 257 years to close this gap. Meanwhile, women and girls do some 12 billion hours of unpaid care work every day that simply does not figure in economic decision-making. If we are to achieve fair globalization that works for everyone, we need to base our policies on statistics that take account of women's true contributions.

Digital technology is another case in point. The lack of gender balance in the universities, start-ups and Silicon Valleys of our world is deeply worrying. These tech hubs are shaping the societies and economies of the future; we cannot allow them to entrench and exacerbate male dominance.

Or take the wars that are ravaging our world. There is a straight line between violence against women, civil oppression and conflict. How a society treats the female half of its population is a significant indicator of how it will treat others. Even in peaceful societies, many women are in deadly danger in their own homes.

There is even a gender gap in our response to the climate crisis. Initiatives to reduce and recycle are overwhelmingly marketed at women, while men are more likely to put their faith in untested technological fixes. And women economists and parliamentarians are more likely than men to support pro-environmental policies.

Finally, political representation is the clearest evidence of the gender power gap. Women are outnumbered by an average of 3 to 1 in parliaments around the world, but their presence is strongly correlated with innovation and investment in health and education. It is no coincidence that the governments that are redefining economic success to include wellbeing and sustainability are led by women.

This is why one of my first priorities at the United Nations was to bring more women into our leadership. We have now achieved gender parity at the senior level, two years ahead of schedule, and we have a roadmap for parity at all levels in the years to come.

Our world is in trouble, and gender equality is an essential part of the answer. Man-made problems have human-led solutions. Gender equality is a means of redefining and transforming power that will yield benefits for all.

The 21st century must be the century of women's equality in peace negotiations and trade talks; in board rooms and classrooms; at the G20 and the United Nations.

It is time to stop trying to change women and to start changing the systems that prevent them from achieving their potential.

Categories: Africa

Sudan's Attorney General recommends new culture for security forces

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 15:45


March 6, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Attorney General recommended a new culture for the security forces to end the brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters, said the office of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

On 22 February Hamdok formed a committee chaired by the General Attorney Taj Elsir Alhiber to investigate violent crackdown on a demonstration, the day before, calling to reintegrate pro-democracy military officers sacked recently by the army.

The office of the prime minister issued a statement saying that the committee handed over its report and made a number of recommendations regarding the organization of peaceful demonstrations which is "a legitimate right" granted by the Constitutional Document.

The report includes also additional recommendations that ensure that what happened under the former regime would not be repeated, said the statement.

"We expect a new culture among the police fitting with the (regime) change on how to deal with the peaceful demonstrations which now are legitimate right after had being illegal under the former regime."

“Also, we expect this report to be meticulously studied by all relevant authorities to clearly confirm the rights (to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression) and enforce these recommendations so that what happened will not occur again in the Sudanese street.”

The statement did not go into the findings of the report but mentioned the committee interrogated the commander of operations and the Khartoum state police director and all the officers who were at the site of the events on that day, as well as all the demonstrators who were injured.

At least 57 people were wounded when the police used tear gas and batons to disperse the demonstration. Also, 12 police officers were wounded by stones thrown by the protesters.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Korea postpones troops rotation in South Sudan over coronavirus

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 12:25


March 6, 2020 (JUBA) — South Korea has postponed the rotation of its peacekeepers deployed in South Sudan within the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) due to growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in these countries.

According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, about 300 troops had been scheduled to travel to South Sudan to replace a contingent of the Hanbit Unit.

The rotation takes place every eight months.

"The deployment will be postponed for about two weeks as of now, although it's subject to change," said a Joint Chiefs of Staff officer according to the news agency.

As of Friday, South Korea reported 6,593 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. In the military, over 34 people have tested positive, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

In a related development, Sudan Tribune was not able to verify a letter seen by its journalists sent on 3 March by Gabriel Jok Riak Makol, chief of general staff of South Sudan People's Defense to the UNMISS force commander.

“I write to inform your esteemed office to put on hold the rotation of UNMISS forces from China, South Korea, India, Nepal and Cambodia until further notice,” reads the letter.

International health officials fear the spread of the coronavirus disease causes ravages in the continent due to the lack of adequate means to face this outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) pledged to support African countries to strengthening their capacities to treat patients and improve infection, prevention and control in health facilities.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Hard currency shortages prompted borrowing from private firms: Sudan's minister

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 08:47

March 6, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan finance minister said the country's failure to pay a bill of wheat prompted his government to strike a deal with a private company to export gold and to use its income to ensure the country's basic commodities.

Ibrahim al-Badawi held a press conference on Thursday to explain the very difficult economic situation the country is facing particularly after the failure of the government efforts to address the lack of hard currency and curb the rampant inflation.

Sudan needs $302 million every month to purchase wheat ($ 45m) fuel $212m) and medicines ($45m) with some variations, according to al-Badawi.

"In the second week of December 2019, wheat stocks reached a critical stage, and the Bank of Sudan was unable to provide foreign currency to pay the costs of 50,000 tons of wheat," he further said.

This emergency forced them to borrow the needed $28 million from the little-known Al-Fakher Company for Advanced Business (ACAB), which in return was repaid in local currency and allowed to export gold to the international market.

The minister denied that he gave the ACAB the monopole of gold exportation, saying he decided to open gold exportation to the private sector after being controlled by the central bank as of 1 January 2020.

At the time, the government said it took this decision to end gold smuggling and to attract foreign currency.

The minister denied wrongdoing stressed he acted under the Government Contracting and Procurement Law which authorizes the Minister of Finance to contract with companies in exceptional circumstances.

Al-Badawi was accused of allowing the company to export five tons of gold with NIL VALUE, meaning that the company has no obligation to deposit its income in its banking account in Sudan or pay a value-added tax to the government.

Minister al-Badawi has been criticized for biting on probable Sudan's removal of the terror list and the support of international financial institutions which will take several years before to be effective.

During his press conference which was attended also by traders, the minister was sharply criticized and some went even to request his resignation.

The date of the press conference coincided with a meeting for the two executive bodies - Sovereign Council and the government - with Forces For Freedom and Change (FFC) to discuss the economic situation in the country.

Crisis Management Committee

Following the meeting, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok announced the formation of a higher mechanism for managing the economic crisis.

The crisis management mechanism will be tasked with providing basic commodities including fuel, wheat and medicine, said Hamdok.

Also, the mechanism will review the income and outgo policy of the government, he added and provide the needed support for the agriculture sector.

The prime minister did not announce the composition of the crisis committee but the formation of this body suggests that al-Badawi will have to work its members.

Several FFC forces during the past months called to focus on the development of the national resource and stop waiting for uncertain international support depending on the U.S. administration which focuses more on its internal interests and the presidential election in November 2020.

Washington said ending sanctions on Sudan is a complicated process involving the Congress and related to several laws and not only the terror list.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudan urged to allow international support to investigation into murder of revolution martyrs

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 14:47


March 5, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights (PRH) has called to allow international support to the investigation committee into the bloody raid on the peaceful pro-democracy protesters on 3 June 2019.

On 21 September, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok formed an independent investigation committee on the attack on the sit-in and appointed its members one month later on 30 October 2019.

The 7-member committee which headed by Nabil Adib had faced some logistical difficulties and requested three additional months before to submit his report.

but families of several victims of the attack on the sit-in expressed dissatisfaction with the committee and called for the inclusion of their representatives.

In a report released Friday, the PHR said urged the Sovereign Council and the government to fully support the investigation body and to accept international support.

“Permit the commission to accept support from international entities with a demonstrated record of undertaking or supporting impartial and independent efforts for justice and accountability,” recommended the report.

The 67-page report said that the brutal attack was planned, pointing out that large number troops had been pre-positioned in and around the sit-in some the days prior to the 3 June violence.

According to the report, the authorities before the attack withdrew the soldiers and militiamen who interacted with the protesters.

They were “replaced with forces that were openly hostile to protesters, including many with accents and features identified as belonging to the Rizeigat tribe from the Sudanese region of Darfur, long known for its participation in the Janjaweed militia,” the PHR says quoting the interviewees.

The report included the accounts of 30 survivors who were interviewed by PRH investigators. They gave accounts of the shooting and brutal treatment from the RSF militiamen and security forces who attacked them.

“The brutality described by interviewees was supported by PHR's clinical evaluations of wounds of survivors of the violence,” said the rights group.

The report expressed concern about the immunity from prosecution to the security forces that perpetrated the grave violations of human rights and crimes on 3 June assault. It

“Advocates in Sudan may, therefore, find it difficult to prosecute cases against members of the armed forces, including the RSF, at the highest levels of command responsibility,” said the PHR.

The investigators who conducted worked their report in Khartoum said they obtained a list of 71 mortuary admissions for the victims killed during the period of 3 to 6 June 2019 in the Sudanese capital.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Ethnic Conflicts: South Sudan perspective

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 10:45

By Steve Paterno

Ethnic conflict is so much prevalent in South Sudan it challenges any attempt to preserve peace and security throughout the entire territorial integrity of nation. In other words, ethnic conflicts in South Sudan is a national security threat.

Currently dominating news headlines is the ensuing deadly battles in Jonglei ethnic triangle, involving Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer, and the Murle. There are so much reporting particularly on social media about the ongoing battles in this Jogolei ethnic triangle that is even hard to separate facts from fiction.

However, one thing remains constantly the same about this conflict and all other ethnic-based conflicts, whether that is in Rumbek State, Warrap State, or Eastern Equatoria State, the conflict is triggered by one or two incidents, escalating further, and repeating into life cycle of vicious violence. The life cycle of this vicious violence is like this: the conflicting neighbouring ethnic groups start off with a relative peace, whereby they peaceful coexist and cooperate among many ways. In the middle of coexistence, an incident would break the peaceful cycle, where for an instant, a criminal individual or a group of criminals, would commit a criminal offence such as cattle raiding or killing of a neighbouring ethnic group. Committing such an act or even suspect that such an act is committed, automatically trigger a retaliatory response against all individuals from the suspected ethnic group in question and all their animals become legitimate targets of raiding. Such retaliatory response is a natural instinct that all the warring ethnic groups developed over the ages for survival sake, due to absence of any neutral arbiter, which in this modern case, should be the state.

It is in this life cycle of vicious violence that the situation escalates from bad to worse. This is the current status reached that involves Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer, and the Murle. Here, by nature of things, the conflict engulfed all human beings from those ethnicities and their entire animals become legitimate targets of raids and counter raids.

This life cycle, would then followed by brokering of peace, where it goes a full cycle, for another relative peace before another incident break to renew and escalate the cycle of vicious violence again. And the life cycle of vicious violence continues in South Sudan naturally unabated just like that.

One would then forced to think that the only way such life cycle of vicious violence would perhaps end naturally with one ethnic group finishing the other to the extinction. However, nature does not work that way. Those conflicting ethnic neighbours live among each other through this cycle of vicious violence since time immemorial.

Therefore, there must be mitigating measures to be put in place to curb this ethic violence. Unfortunately, thus far all the mitigating attempts don't seem to meet desirable result. Worst of all, when this life cycle breaks into vicious violence, the national leaders, who suppose to act as neutral arbiter in such instant, instead of sides with their ethnic group, which is party to the conflict. The ethnic conflict is so powerful in that it consumes national leaders. Hence, national leaders become nothing, but a bunch of tribal warlords.

Another method used thus far, which have proven not to be working is disarmament. The disarmament exercises in South Sudan is fraught with too many problems, which are not limited just to partial disarmament, discrimination, corruption, where collected weapons immediately exchange hands with criminals, lack of capacity to really collect weapons and store them prominently away etc.

One other deterrence method used, which does not work, is enforcing punitive military measures against a suspected violent ethnic group. Enforcing punitive military measures against suspects seems to be the only law enforcing mechanism SPLA has developed, since bush days and still in practice in modern-day of nation-state building today. The method seems to be luckily working at times, but it backfires all the times and it is not, therefore, suitable to be incorporated in nation state-building.

To show that punitive military measure is counterproductive, let us say, for example, village X is suspected of raiding cattle from village Y.

On hearing the initial report about the suspected crime, the overzealous military governor will ring the President at 3 AM, requesting permission to carry out a military operation against the suspected criminal village X. The President of course as always grant such wishes for military operations. The overzealousness governor would then order a notorious trigger happy military commander along with an illiterate military commissioner to carry out military operations against suspected village X. Without proper planning and without judiciously establishing objectives for operations, the undisciplined soldiers are ordered to lay a siege against suspected village X. As a result, people in the suspected village X are killed, raped, beaten, their properties looted, all their animals are raised, and their entire village burned aground by the national army, which supposes to protect the people and their properties in the first place.

As a result of such military operations, the governor, commissioner, military commander and their associates got away with the loots of the village folks and nothing officially would ever be established about the initial incident, which led village X being branded as suspected criminal to warrant a military operation against it in the first place. In this manner, punitive military operations conducted against civilians also becomes another life cycle of inflicting suffering against innocent citizens, a burden in and of itself.

In those infamous military operations, the primary aims seem to be for the governors, commissioners, military commanders and their associates to get away with the loots of civilians.

Anyway, the most effective way to curb ethnic violence is to reduce those incidents, which trigger the escalation of violence to engulf all, including the most innocent through retaliatory response. Those incidents must be reduced against only individuals who directly participated in the acts and they must be prosecuted as criminals in isolated incidents they commit. The challenge here rests with the state in collaboration with local authorities to act swiftly when those incidents occur before they could naturally trigger retaliatory response, which is often out of control. The point is, if the government, through its overzealousness military governors, notoriously trigger happy military commanders, and illiterate military commissioners can carry out looting military operations among villages, it can easily haunt down criminals hiding throughout villages and even towns. Dealing with criminals does not require a magic wand, for we are a country, South Sudan that can handle its problems well.

Categories: Africa

FFC groups to press prime minister on Sudan civilian governors

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 09:02

March 5, 2020 (KHARTOUM)- A leading member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) said they will meet the Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to discuss the awaited appointment of civilian governors.

Hamdok and the coalition that brought him to power diverge on the timing of the appointment of civilian governors as the FFC are pressed by their bases to replace military governors while Hamdok prefers to appoint them after a peace agreement with the armed groups.

"We asked for a meeting as soon as possible with the Prime Minister to resolve the appointment of civilian state governors," said Siddiq Youssef, in statements to Sudan Tribune, on Wednesday.

Youssef emphasized that the delayed appointment of civilian governors until now has become a problem, in light of the failure of the government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) to reach understandings on the appointment of temporary governors to the states.

He pointed out that the assignment of state governors can no longer wait, as the negotiating parties in Juba agreed to amend the Constitutional Declaration governing the transitional period.

"If the expected peace agreement provides to reshuffle the governors that we wish to assign, then the change will take place," he emphasized.

Siddiq and other members of the FFC leadership council recently returned from the South Sudanese capital after a series of meetings with the SRF leaders.

The two sides failed to agree on the percentage that the FFC can concede to the armed groups who want to have 40% of the government positions.

Last Tuesday Shams al-Din Khabbashi a member of the Sovereign Council who is also a member of the government negotiating team said that the prime minister told them he will not appoint civilian governors before the signing of a peace agreement.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

UNMISS head calls to put doubts aside and support South Sudan leaders

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 07:35

March 5, 2020 (JUBA) - The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has called to support the peace implementation process stressing that doubts should be put aside and to give South Sudanese leaders a chance.

In a video briefing from Juba to the UN Security Council on Wednesday 4 March, UNMISS chief David Shearer hailed the decision of President Salva Kiir to revert to the ten states saying he did it "against the wishes of many of his many supporters".

He also praised the courageous decision of the First Vice-President Riek Machar for his return to Juba "despite transitional security arrangements not yet in place".

"The progress is attributable to the political willingness of two men who put the interests of their country first," he stressed.

However, he said the national unity government is facing daunting challenges that require the support of the international community and the inaction may contribute to the peace implementation process.

"The doubters telling us we have been here before. But It's also important to acknowledge these are changed circumstances," he said.

"The international community will likely lean on the side of caution wary of repeating past mistakes. That's fair. But neither can we totally step back to wait to see what happens before making a commitment".

"Our actions can push South Sudan further toward sustainable peace; our inaction can help condemn it to failure".

The strong call for international support to the national unity government and the implementation of the revitalized peace pact follows statements on 27 February by a senior State Department official who said they prefer to verify first how the peace partners will work.

"So everyone's looking to see: Will this new unity government work? Will it remain an inclusive and unified government? What will their work habits be?" He said before adding they want to be certain the peace partners "work collaboratively".

The Troika countries and Washington particularly refused to contribute to the funding of the implementation of the security arrangements in the past saying that Juba should use of oil income.

Shearer's speech recalls the calls for support for the revitalized peace agreement by the former UN special envoy for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom who struggled to convince the international community to back its implementation and the security arrangements particularly.

Shearer in his speech identified some areas that require immediate support pointing to the lack of means to implement the costly process of the national army formation, and the precarious humanitarian situation caused by a combination of three factors: floods, locusts and tribal violence.

The South Sudanese Ambassador to the United NationsAkuei Bona Malwal, for his part, welcomed the latest report of the UN Secretary-General report and indicated that the president and his first vice president are holding discussions "on how to divide the ministerial portfolios equitably".

"And, Mr President, the people of South Sudan are on standby to hear the imminent announcement of the new cabinet of national unity any time from now," he added.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

De Mabior, Shearer discuss South Sudan's IDPs return to home areas

Sat, 29/02/2020 - 09:39


February 29, 2020 (JUBA) - South Sudanese Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior and the head of the UN mission David Shearer discussed the situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Protection of Civilians (POC) sites.

There are 188528 IDPs in the POCs including 115,479 in Bentiu, 27,924 in Malakal, 29,948 in Juba, 1,934 in Bor, and 13,243 in Wau according to a report released on 26 February.

The meeting discussed the return of the IPDs in the POCs across the country, said De Mabior told reporters according to a statement issued by the presidency.

They "agreed to speed up the process of the returned of the IDPs before the start of the rainy season," further said the statement.

For his part, Shearer indicated that the meeting also discussed the preparation to face the global coronavirus outbreak.

The international official further stressed the UN readiness to support the government efforts to return the displaced people to their areas of origin.

De Mabior who was nominated by the FDs group is the Vice President for Gender and Youth.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudan, SRF still at odds over state governors and transitional parliament

Sat, 29/02/2020 - 07:59

February 29, 2020 (JUBA) - The transitional government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) have not yet reached an agreement on the state governors and the transitional parliament, according to the parties and the mediation on Friday.

The SRF says that the appointment for the two institutions should be done after the signing of a peace deal so that they can get their people appointed for these positions.

However, the issue of the governors and the legislative assembly, are not part of the peace negotiations as the parties agreed to form a separate ad-hoc committee including the FFC delegates to discuss them.

Mohamed Hassan al-Taishi, spokesperson of the government negotiating delegation said on Friday that the agreed with the Darfur armed groups on 80% of the peace talks agenda.

However, he admitted that the two sides failed within the determined frame time to agree on the issues of the state governors who should be appointed during the transitional period.

"The SRF still holding on to its position, while the government spoke about the urgent need to fill the administrative void In the states and appointing civil rulers," he further said.

Al-Taishi went further to repeat that the appointment of governors is temporary and will be reviewed once a peace agreement is signed.

The government has almost finalized the peace talks with other factions of the SRF except for Darfur region.

For the talks with Darfur groups, the two sides have not yet reached a deal over the formation of a regional entity for the whole region. Also, the file of the displaced people and refugees still on hold, because their representatives have not arrived in Jua due to technical issues.

The government and the armed groups on 14 February extended the talks for three weeks. But, the statement of the member of the Sovereign Council hints that the parties would not sign an agreement next week.

Minni Minnawi, SRF deputy chairman, in a tweet on Friday, confirmed that they did not strike a deal on the governors and the transitional parliament.

"The appointment of governors and legislative assemblies violate the Juba document," he said.

"(Also) it is considered as unjustified escalation," stressed the SLM leader who used to criticize openly the transitional government and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC).

In separate statements, Dhieu Matouq the spokesperson of the South Sudanese mediation confirmed that the two sides disagree on the state governors and the transitional parliament.

In press statements after a briefing to foreign diplomats in Juba about the talks for peace in Sudan, Matouq said that the SPLM-N of Abdel Aziz al-Hilu would resume talks with the government next week.

He added that the meetings held with the rebel group by the FFC delegation which arrived recently from Khartoum have contributed to convincing them to resume talks.

It worth mentioning that Shams al-Din Kabbashi who heads the government delegation for the talks with the SPLM-N al-Hilu arrived Friday to Juba.

The SPLM-N al-Hilu says they want the government to include the secular state and self-determination in the agenda of the peace talks but the government rejects to discuss these issues during the peace talks.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Where is IGAD-Plus to pressure Parties in Juba?

Fri, 28/02/2020 - 07:26

By James Gatdet Dak

Lack of political will, lack of commitment and eroding trust-building, particularly on the part of the SPLM-IG, seem to have resurfaced AGAIN among, and between the main parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS)------as now shown by their current delay or failure to agree on the selection/distribution of 35 ministries and 10 states, etc.

The Presidency of the 'big six' (President, First Vice President, and four Vice Presidents) of the slowly budding Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU), was formed since 21 February 2020, but seven days later the Parties could not form a revitalized unity government: Cabinet, Parliament, States governments, etc.

South Sudan's government is now a paralyzed government of the 'big six' as heads of institutions and states governors and would-be revitalized parliamentarians, who should have provided policy guidance across the nation, are nowhere to be named or seen.

SPLM-IG, led by President Salva Kiir, wants to take almost all the important governance and economic ministries, such as Defense, Interior, Petroleum, Finance, etc. How should this be in a coalition government, composed of different parties, some with separate huge armed forces?

SPLM/A-IO, the main opposition party, led by the First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, is supposed to be leading the Governance Cluster, and lead the reform agenda as well, in accordance with the R-ARCISS, and so by denying them some of such vital governance and economic ministries, it sadly means the reform agenda is nibbed in the bud.

No IG party nominated ministers in charge of all these governance ministries will be cooperating with Dr Machar, who will be heading the Governance Cluster, in order to initiate reform policies on good governance in the new Cabinet. Reform agenda will be suspended until further notice.

Now the IG, led by President Kiir, has sadly applied the game of divide and conquer the other weaker opposition parties by giving them their whatever ministries through the back door, sidelining the IO, led by First Vice President, Dr Machar, in a process which is suspiciously not transparent.

As a result of these disagreements, the whole government in Juba and in the states has come to a standstill without the needed appointments of ministers and governors and a revitalized transitional national legislature.

Where is IGAD-Plus, as guarantors, in this unhealthy stalemate in Juba? Where is their sustained pressure on the Parties to ensure that they do the selection fairly and transparently and form a revitalized transitional government of national unity, not simply the uncooperative Presidency?

Is it not time for IGAD and the rest to step in again, and to remind the respective leaderships of the Parties that if they can't agree as gentlemen and a woman, or as main Parties, then they should refer to what the Agreement says, and that is to select the 35 ministries on "rotational" basis. This means IG selects one ministry first, followed by IO, followed by SSOA, followed by FDs, followed by OPPs, and the cycle continues until each party gets its power-sharing ratio per the R-ARCISS, and the IG that has 20 ministries collects the remaining ministries.

IGAD and AU, and the wider international community, should not repeat the mistake they made in 2016, when they relaxed their pressure on the Parties, leaving the whole process to blow up again.

And who knows, somebody might be delaying the formation of the R-ARCISS in order to delay priority discussions on pending issues on the security arrangements, etc., and hence delay implementation of the security sector.

I hate to believe that pushing the IO into prematurely forming a unity government first, without implementing the security arrangements and protection of VIPs and vulnerable citizens in Juba and in other major towns, was to make IO and other Parties negotiate the pending pre-transitional issues from a weak position.

And it is risky by the way, but God is great.

Again, IO's goodwill and trust-building approach and love for peace, stability and recovery of the lives of the suffering people of South Sudan, is being betrayed in daylight and in the watchful eyes of IGAD and the wider international community.

IGAD-Plus and their partners should intervene immediately and save the R-ARCISS if the Parties will not agree by Sunday, 2 March 2020.

The international community should not relax, but keep sustained pressure on the Parties until the Agreement is fully implemented and free and fair elections are held by 2023, God willing.

We should not quickly forget that the R-ARCISS itself was made possible through intense regional and international pressure

And IGAD-Plus should also be reminding itself that it was responsible for pushing Dr Riek Machar into JUBA in 2016, without proper security arrangements put in place first, and it is the same scenario repeating itself today, and maybe even worse, given this intransigence on the part of IG. God forbid.

May God bless and take care of the ever-suffering people of South Sudan, and impose a positive divine intervention in the hearts and minds of their leaders.

Peace!

The author is a concerned citizen who loves his country and its people. His email address is jamesdak2018@gmail.com.

Categories: Africa

German president pledges support to Sudan

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 23:01


February 27, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - German President Frank Walter Steinmeier on Thursday pledged that his country would back the democratic transition process in Sudan and support its integration in the international financial institutions.

In a rare visit by the head of a western country to Khartoum, Steinmeier was warmly received by the Sudanese leaders Abdel Fattah al-Burhan head of the Sovereign Council and Abdallah Hamdok the Premier Minister.

Sudanese who are in quest for recognition from the international community after their revolution have appreciated the various visits to Khartoum and the recent invitation for their premier to Berlin giving him the opportunity to appear with the grands of the world.

Speaking in a press conference with Hamdock, the visiting president said that his country is committed to working with the Friends of Sudan group "to remove barriers to cooperation with international financial institutions and remove Sudan from the sanctions lists that prevent German companies from cooperating with it," he said.

Steinmeier was hinting to the U.S. sanctions which are more and more difficult to understand for the ordinary people after reports - widely echoed in Khartoum - about an expected judgment by the Supreme Court confirming over $10 billion of compensation their poor country has to pay.

He further called on the international community to enable Sudan to gain access to the international financial institutions saying that the officials leading the transitional government are not responsible for the problems caused by the previous regime.

This must be overcome and that the Sudanese people and its government should not bear these charges, he further said confirming what Sudanese repeat every day when they speak about the difficulties they face on a daily basis.

"There is a historic opportunity for Sudan, and we are interested in using it to improve the living conditions and prosperity of Sudanese," he said in German translated in Arabic.

He pointed out that they must act quickly to ensure Sudan's access to international financing institutions, and to open the way for loans, noting that there is no other way than to involve the international financial institutions and Sudan obtaining loans.
Steinmeier, however, pledged Berlin's support for Sudan as a reliable partner in the development and economic cooperation after the vote by the German parliament "Bundestag" authorizing the resumption of development cooperation with Sudan after 30 years of ban.

President Steinmeier said that German companies would resume investment activities in Sudan and announced his country's readiness to implement the agreement between the German Ministry of Development Cooperation and Sudan to provide 80 million Euros to support vocational training for young people.

He said that this support the first step and there are additional efforts by the German Foreign Minister to support peace in Sudan, and bilateral cooperation in the areas of education and governance.

For his part, Sudanese Electricity Transmission Company (SETCO) General Director Salim Mohamed Mahjoub, told the official SUNA that Germany will rehabilitate the main control centre for the Sudan Electricity Network.

Expressing his support for the democratic transition in Sudan the German president said that Sudanese should be proud of the revolution they made

"The Sudanese people should be proud of overthrowing a humiliating regime that they have suffered a lot from, and my visit today comes out of respect for these people."

For his part, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok reassured President Steinmeier that Sudanese are determined to move forward despite the economic difficulties they face.

"The change that took place in Sudan is radical and profound as it has covered all parts of Sudan."

"We have two options during this transition, either crossing successfully, or crossing successfully," he stressed

He said that the reform of the army and security institutions is essential and is one of the transitional agendas in accordance with the Constitutional Document.

He said that the ongoing efforts to achieve peace in Juba require this reform, given that the negotiations include the security arrangements chapter, which deals with the integration of the armed groups in the national army.

In his meeting with the head of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Steinmeier affirmed his country's support for Sudan's efforts to overcome the challenges facing it.

He stressed that it is not fair for the current government to be held accountable for the economic hardships caused by others and to isolate Sudan from the world.

In turn, al-Burhan described Steinmeier's visit as a "strong signal" of Germany's support to Sudan.

"We seek to be partners with Germany and the European Union," and called for support to remove his country from the United States' list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Before his visit to Khartoum, the German president pointed out that it was important for the international community to support and show solidarity with Sudanese people

"It is important now to show first that the path they are taking now is a brave one, and that we value and support it," he said.

Before his departure to Berlin on Friday morning he will py a visit to a power station in Khartoum state.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

South Sudan transition will be under watchful eye, says Washington

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 21:15

February 27, 2020 (JUBA) - The U.S. will adopt a wait-and-see approach towards the South Sudan transitional national unity government, hoping that cooperation between the parties will bring Washington to support them.

In an anonymous briefing, a senior State Department official told journalists by telephone on Wednesday that his administration will watch how President Salva Kiir and his FVP Riek Mach will behave during the 36-month transition which witnesses the implementation of political and economic reforms before to hold general elections.

"So everyone's looking to see: Will this new unity government work? Will it remain an inclusive and unified government? What will their work habits be? And really, what I – the main take is if it works, if the parties work collaboratively, it has a chance of working. If they continue to be competitors within this government, it's – it has a lot less chance of working," said the official.

"So a collaborative approach is what we're looking for. We're looking for signs of that collaboration, attitudinal changes," he further stressed.

Kiir and Machar delayed twice the formation of the transitional national unity government due to the failure to implement the pre-transitional measures particularly security arrangements and the number of states.

However, the two leaders have made major concessions that led them to form the national unity government on 22 February: Kiir accepted the re-establish the 10 states while Machar returned to Juba without his army as Kiir's bodyguards are protecting him.

The State Department official pointed out that there is still uncertainty in the relationship between the two leaders. He further underscored they will keep watching their behaviours in different areas.

"Are they taking responsible decisions that are focused on the needs of their people, or are they taking self-interested decisions based on their own kind of political needs or their needs for power or corrupt finances?" He said before to add more interrogations "Will this new unity government work? Will it remain an inclusive and unified government? What will their work habits be?"

He stressed that they will keep watching the transitional government looking for signs of collaboration between the main partners and "attitudinal changes".

Nonetheless; the official admitted that up to now the two sides have made considerable concessions and showed the needed goodwill

"But really, collaboration is the word of the day there, I think. It was a compromise leading up to this. The parties had to compromise to get here, but they've done that," he said.

He expressed hope that in the future they will demonstrate with more "signs that this is different than before," as he said.

We hope "there are assertions by all parties that it's different this time, assertions which have to be tested and watched very carefully," he stressed.

In a statement released on 25 February, the International Crisis Group (ICG) went in the same direction and described the concessions made by the two leaders as "A major step toward ending South Sudan's civil war".

The groups said the two sides will no doubt be focused for days, weeks or even more to discuss over government positions. But despite all the shortcomings encountered, the think tank stressed that there is a willingness to work together this time.

" The magnitude of the compromises they have made suggest that both Kiir and Machar are more willing participants in this unity government than in the last failed one," ICG said.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

IOM needs $119m to cover South Sudan humanitarian needs

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 12:18

February 27, 2020 (JUBA) - South Sudan needs about $119 million to meet the humanitarian needs of displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

400 x 267 pixels 18.9 kb 08/03/2016 3 uses IOM offers maternal care for mothers in Bentiu ( Photo IOM)

Aid agencies estimate that some 7.5 million South Sudanese are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some 1.5 million people remain displaced internally while a further 2.2 million are in neighbouring countries as a result of the over five-year civil war.

Also, the country has been hit by an invasion of desert locusts that are threatening the food security situation of millions.

In response to this calamities; the IOM launched a "Consolidated Appeal for 2020" to cover its humanitarian plan for South Sudan saying it needs $"119,311,000 to meet the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, host community members and migrants throughout the country".

"The effects of years of conflict and displacement continue to impact South Sudanese throughout the country and abroad," said IOM which ensures life-saving responses in support of IDPs, returnees, and host communities across the country.

“In 2019, IOM received immense support from the donor community, and we are hopeful that this year will be no different,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission.

“We call on the donor community to continue providing support to the people of South Sudan as they rebuild their lives towards a durable peace as promised by the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” Chauzy added.

IOM said its 2020 plan supports the social cohesion in South Sudan and impacts positively on the efforts of the national unity government to increase its technical knowledge and strengthen institutional capacity on migration and border management.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

How do we achieve lasting peace in South Sudan?

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 10:47

By Panom Nien

There have been different sentiments, jubilations, and excitements upon the swearing-in of five (5) Vice Presidents in the Republic of South Sudan. Thousands of citizens overwhelmed with joy and hope that the peace has finally returned to the country, after almost seven (7) years conflict that has left nearly two million people displaced inside, while outside the country there are over two million refugees, mainly in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda.

WHAT COULD SOUTH SUDAN LEADERS DO?

South Sudanese leaders should take full responsibility on their shoulders to heartily and passionately implement this peace agreement not just for sake of South Sudanese citizens, but it is their mandate and me quote ‘' responsibility is accepting that you are the cause & the solution of the circumstance''. Our leaders have huge tasks and challenges as the entire world is watching closely in the midst of the implementation of the peace agreement.

However, as a patriotic citizenry of this beautiful nation (South Sudan), anticipate our leaders to do thorough peace rallies and preach message of peace jointly into grassroots communities, internal displaced persons and those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries to disseminate message of Love, Peace, inclusivity, diversity, anti-tribalism, and Unity of purpose, reconciliation, and forgiveness amongst one another. Peace should not be proclaiming in hotels in Juba, because the majority of South Sudanese people are less confident and losing faith in their very own government.

WHAT COULD SOUTH SUDAN CITIZENS DO?

Do we really proud of South Sudanese citizens?
Are you patriotic citizens of this breathtaking or spectacular nation, with full of potential natural resources?

Subsequently, why do we always give ourselves sort of names illustratively Dinka, Shilluk, Nuer etcetera, our truly proud identity is South Sudan, let us embrace love, tranquillity, and Unity of purpose. However, how can we achieve sustainable peace in South Sudan?

First and utmost, we must find it within ourselves by sharing our inner peace with our neighbours, and spread message of love, unity, tranquillity, and anti-tribalism, raising our children satisfactorily and teaching them to respect and love their neighbours, rather than educate them about nepotism, prejudice, discrimination, and tribalism, thus promote forbearance.
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In whatever way, they will learn the joy of peace and togetherness in the near future. The peace process should be a predominantly preventative measure, should likely start at a grassroots level, and thereby create trickle-up peaceful processes.

Do we really proud of South Sudanese citizens? unity, social cohesion, and nation-building and be agents or ambassadors of peace rather than preaching hatred, tribalism, and nepotism. Therefore by mitigating these vices, those magnify hate speech and impede peaceful co-existence in our country, do away with culturally rooted norms and beliefs.

YOUTH DEPRIVED OF TRUST IN THEIR GOVERNMENT

Build trust between youths and governments, youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

The government should initiate & create spaces for youths to express their opinions and listen to them, rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence yet they were the most culprit of the armed conflict imposed onto them; it is indispensable to engage youths as social actors with their own sights and pennywort. Youth and own voices in peacebuilding are present in all places, but occasionally not recognized.

Furthermore, the creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard. With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, the government often fails to take into account the views of youths in policymaking and may have different priorities for peace.

Nonetheless, think about what we could accomplish if we all work together to create true nation-building inclusivity. We could eliminate or do away with tribalism, discrimination, starvation, reduce poverty, jobs creation and work towards common goals such as justice, peace universal education system and social amenities. Finding peace is not just about learning how to obtain it, but also learning how to hold onto it without slipping back to angry ways. If we do want to achieve lasting peace in our beloved country, do not talk only to your family, relatives or friends, but rather, let's all embrace or take up diversity of sixty-four (64) ethnic groups in South, regardless of sex, religion, gender, race, tribe, and clan.

‘'Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy
God bless Our Country, South Sudan.

The writer can be reached on nienj2020@gmail.com

Categories: Africa

SLM al-Nur accuses Sudan army of denying humanitarian access

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 09:30


February 27, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) accused the Sudanese army of denying international aid groups from reaching war-affected civilians in the Jebel Marra area.

"On Monday, February 24, 2020, the Khartoum government forces in the Sarnog region prevented UNOCHA and a number of international organizations and UN agencies from reaching the SLM/A-AW controlled areas of Manbo and Darsa, where are thousands of civilians in dire need for humanitarian assistance and health care".

The Khartoum forces have given no reason to explain the ban of access to these humanitarian organizations, further said the armed group.

The SLM-AW is not taking part in the ongoing peace process in Juba between the transitional government and the armed groups.

The exiled group leader al-Nur recently said he would launch an initiative for a peace conference inside the country.

"The Khartoum government must stop these actions and not play with fire," said the statement before calling to allow access for humanitarian relief to civilians in need.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

Sudanese banks to issue Visa cards within weeks

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 08:12

February 27, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Three Sudanese banks have struck a deal with Visa Inc allowing them to issue its payment cards in Sudan within three weeks maximum.

Visa cards (Getty Images)

The deal was concluded after long negotiations between the American multinational financial services corporation, the Central Bank of Sudan and its technical arm Electronic Banking Services (EBS).

Omer Hassan Omerabi EBS General Manager told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that three banks are licensed to issue Visa cards in Sudan: Bank of Khartoum (BOK), United Capital Bank (UCB) and Qatar National Bank.

The Visa card will be issued after the opening of an account in foreign currency and then he can use it inside the country and abroad, Omerabi further said.

The three banks will start soon issuing Visa cards, and installing ATMs and points of sale that allow all foreigners to use their Visa cards.

The withdrawal and payment limit of the card is set at $3000 monthly.

Omerabi said this step is an important breakthrough because it will encourage the entry of hard currencies to the country.

"But it may not represent much importance for low-income people who are paid in Sudanese pound only" he added.

The Sudanese pound has lost its value due to the negative impact on the balance of trade. The country imports more than exports.

Recently, the pound fell to its lowest level on record as the dollar selling price reached 100 pounds.

The Sudanese official said more banks will join Visa payment system in the upcoming period, citing foreign banks working in Sudan such as Bank AlJazira, Credit Agricole, Arab Bank.

In statements to Sudan Tribune, banking and financial consultant Taha Hussein considered the agreement between Visa Inc and Sudanese banks is a clear indication of lifting the banking ban on Sudanese banks on financial transactions with Sudan.

The banking and financial consultant Taha Hussein considered in an interview with (Sudan Tribune) granting the permit to Sudan a clear indication to lift the banking ban on financial transactions.

He said that this move contributes to the return of foreign companies and firms and will attract new investors to Sudan.

(ST)

Categories: Africa

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