Category: Featured

BREAKING NEWS: Kenyan & South Sudanese activists demand action against beneficiaries of SS War

From Radio Tamazuj & Other sources, OCT/12/2018, SSN;

Latest Development, OCT/15/2018, Nairobi, Kenya: South Sudan politician Paul Malong denies he embezzled millions of dollars in war-torn country. South Sudan politician Gen. Paul Malong has said anything he did that links him to the situation in South Sudan was under instructions from the administration. Speaking during an interview at a local TV station on Sunday night, ‘King Paul’, denied looting South Sudan coffers and stashing the cash in Kenya. Malong said he should not be fully blamed for the situation in South Sudan. “If the crimes committed occurred while I was Chief of Staff, it was because I was under instructions from the Commander in Chief, that’s president Kiir.”
Malong said he has no money hidden in foreign accounts, daring all those making such claims to name the countries and the banks. “I am not a rich man. I am just a family man taking care of myself and my family.” Before he fell out with President Salva Kiir, King Paul was slated as the next in line. Serving as the chief of general staff, Malong wielded power, a fact believed to have placed him at a powerful position to amass his wealth.
Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/south-sudan-politician-paul-malong-denies-looting-claims

Hundreds of Kenyan and South Sudanese nationals on Thursday. October 11/2018, staged a peaceful protest in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, requesting the Kenyan government to freeze assets of South Sudanese leaders profiting from the conflict and to sanction Kenyan banks facilitating the looting of funds.

This is the first time ever that any of the neighboring countries, specifically Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, which are involved with the current national war and leaders in South Sudan, that such a public demonstration has been allowed.

The protest follows the public airing of a documentary, ‘The Profiteers’ which depicts key individuals and institutions in South Sudan and neighbouring Kenya and Uganda that are benefiting from the conflict in South Sudan while south Sudanese continue to bear the brunt of the war.

According to the report, a few South Sudanese leaders, including President Salva Kiir, his nemesis, Riek Machar, former Army Chief of Staff, Paul Malong, have been named to have stashed away huge sums of money in Kenyan banks. This prompted a peaceful protest by Kenyan civil society organisations.

Boniface Mwangi, a renowned Kenyan socio-political rights activist and organiser of the protest told Radio Tamazuj that they delivered petitions to the Kenyan parliament and ministry of foreign affairs demanding action against named individuals and institutions.

“We are protesting against Paul Malong and Salva Kiir and other generals stealing money from South Sudan and using Kenyan banks to launder the money. So the money doesn’t come from clean sources. They are looting the country and bringing the money to Kenya and Uganda, buying very palatial homes, living very lavish lifestyles as ordinary south Sudanese citizens die,” he said.

Mwangi added, “We are asking our Kenyan government to freeze their assets and evacuate the money back to South Sudan. We must stop the banks that are involved in money laundering and looting South Sudan because as long as they can loot, the war will never stop, as long as they benefit from the conflict and the civil war, South Sudanese will continue to suffer as these ‘leaders’ live a good life in Kenya.”

The activist further said the documentary provided evidence of actual bank transactions and ownership of high-end properties in Kenya and Uganda.

“We understand how much money they earn as monthly salaries and you can see there is a stark difference between the two. They earn very little but live like they earn a billion dollars. So you can see clearly there is illegally acquired wealth,” he added.

Mwangi also said as much as South Sudanese are suffering the consequences of the war, Kenya is bearing its own share of negative effects.

“It is illegally acquired money, and it’s not only destroying South Sudan, it’s destroying this country as a financial hub and making it a center for criminal activities. And some of those people who are stealing money are under UN Security Council sanctions list, so Kenyan banks should not be trading with war criminals,” he said.

South Sudanese living in Nairobi spearheaded by the Ana Taban Initiative, a group of South Sudanese youth advocating for peace also joined in the protests as well as other South Sudanese civil society organisations based in Nairobi.

Ana Taban initiative coordinator, Manasseh Mathiang urged South Sudanese to seize the opportunity and speak against vices happening in the country.

“South Sudan is our country. Until the time when we decide to stand up for our rights, stand up for what we believe in we will never fix this country. And if a few individuals are enjoying from our blood we need that to stop. We need to love our country enough to stand when the time is right for us to stand,” he encouraged the protesters.

Mathiang said the protest in Nairobi is part of a series of peaceful protests that will take place across the region denouncing the beneficiaries of the South Sudan conflict.

As Socrates once said, “All Wars Are About Money,” indeed, as exposed by many activists, the leaders of South Sudan, specifically, President Salva Kiir and family, former vice-president-now rebel leader-soon-to-be-again vice president, Dr. Riek Machar, are allegedly ‘US Dollar billionaires,” blood money looted from the poor and suffering citizens.

A video exhibited by the Protest Organizers shows the son of ex-chief of staff, Paul Malong, rolling on millions of US dollar bills and boasting as ‘the youngest African BILLIONAIRE,’ blood monies allegedly stolen by his father, former chief of staff-turned-rebel, Gen. Paul Malong, who’s himself reputedly a billionaire.

Whilst Gen. Malong is one of those sanctioned, he still freely flies in and out of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Sudan without any of these countries arresting him.

Interestingly, it was also revealed how the Machar’s SPLM/O-IO that is supposedly fighting the Kiir regime is deeply involved in stealing natural resources in South Sudan. The so-called SPLM/O-IO Governor Matata of the border state of Yei, is deeply involved in illegally cutting rare and expensive wood and looting other resources from South Sudan and smuggling these through Uganda to international dealers.

Very rare and expensive wood is being stolen by these rebel groups. This is a rich man’s war at the expense of the poor South Sudanese blood.

This is a critical moment for all citizens to join those activists in Kenya and to speak out forcefully about the dubious and criminal collusion between the criminals/leaders in South South Sudan and their co-conspirators in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, not to forget our former rulers, Arab North Sudan.

Most poignantly, the famed Ugandan professor Mahmood Mamdani declared that the recently signed peace agreement between Kiir and Machar and Opposition groups, that, “South Sudan is on its way to becoming an informal protectorate of Sudan and Uganda. By formally acknowledging them as ‘guarantors,’ the agreement recognizes their strategic role in determining the future of South Sudan: Ugandan troops are physically present to support Kiir’s faction, and Sudan provides critical support to opposition groups, including those led by Machar.”

Prof. Mamdani strenuously believes that the peace deal signed on September 12 is an agreement between Presidents Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda — who are the guarantors of the agreement.

The agreement, he argues, recognizes their strategic role in determining the future of South Sudan: Ugandan troops are physically present to support Kiir’s faction, and Arab Sudan provides critical support to opposition groups, including those led by Machar,”

Further, “Uganda is hoping to play a leading role in training the South Sudan army under the military co-operation, while Sudan has leverage to resuscitate the oil sector and provide troops to protect the installations. South Sudan is also Sudan’s biggest market in the region.”

Sadly, an estimated 400,000 South Sudan have been killed since the outbreak of the Dinka Kiir versus Nuer Machar precipitated ‘civil war’ from 2013 to 2016, and now in 2018, there are two and half million South Sudanese refugees in these neighboring countries. END

Remember South Sudan? Washington Would Prefer Not to as Taban Deng frustrates USA

BY ROBBIE GRAMER/ OCTOBER/ 4/ 2018/ SSN;

Its freedom fighters have turned into brutal oppressors, and it is near to becoming another failed state, despondent U.S. supporters say.

A senior official from South Sudan traveled to Washington this week to solicit U.S. support—and money—for a fragile new peace deal aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war. In the past, billions of U.S. dollars have flowed into the new nation, along with a great deal of tender American attention. But the mood in Washington is much different now.

This time, the Americans scoffed at and castigated the visitor, Taban Deng Gai, the first vice president of South Sudan, as he tried to assure them the new peace plan would stick.

Through its own abuses and corruption—and after just seven years of existence—South Sudan has gone from being a poor but hopeful nation to something close to a failed state led by a corrupt, oppressive military elite.

Deng met a group of nearly two dozen current and former U.S. officials at a closed-door event this week marked by tense exchanges. He was there to sell Washington on a peace plan signed last month to end the violence that has fractured the country since 2013, two years after it gained independence from Sudan.

It is the latest of more than a dozen cease-fires or peace plans in recent years, all of which have collapsed.

“We believe this peace is not perfect but of course it is better than [the] alternative, which is war,” Deng said to openly skeptical officials at the event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

Some of Deng’s assertions—that his country was developing rule of law, tackling corruption, and that it was civilians, not the military, carrying out brutal atrocities against the country’s population — were met with a mixture of gasps, muffled laughter, and eye rolls by those in attendance.

When Deng denied that his government security forces were carrying out these attacks and insisted instead it was civilians committing the atrocities, one participant in the event whispered under his breath, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development officials, as well as senior congressional staff and former senior officials, participated in the event—some of whom had devoted decades of their careers to work on South Sudan. Foreign Policy was also in attendance.

“There are people who have worked on South Sudan for decades,” said Joshua Meservey, an Africa expert at the Heritage Foundation. “They poured their professional lives into the Sudan and southern Sudan conflict, and South Sudanese independence was seen as this extraordinarily hopeful moment. For it to go so spectacularly wrong so quickly was a very disillusioning moment for these people.”

Cameron Hudson, a former National Security Council and State Department official who attended the event, told FP afterward that it was easy to feel the frustration in the room. “What you saw around that room was literally hundreds of years’ worth of American blood, sweat, and tears to support these people,” he said. “That’s why the sentiment and emotion … [were] so charged.”

Kate Almquist Knopf, the director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, told Deng that the United States had spent $14 billion on South Sudan alone since 2005 to help shepherd its independence and address the burgeoning humanitarian crisis.

Deng’s response, blaming U.S. aid for stoking the conflict, drew audible gasps: “This $14 billion, if it was put into proper use, maybe South Sudan would not be in war today.” He then said he would be requesting more financial assistance from the U.S. government.

Another member of Deng’s delegation brushed off the dollar figure, saying the statistics were manipulated and biased.

“It’s somewhat insulting to all of us who have been working to support the people of South Sudan for so many years to say that those numbers are not reliable numbers,” retorted a visibly frustrated Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 2013 to 2017. “Americans who have supported South Sudan, we deserve more, and I think the people of South Sudan deserve more.”

The sparring, fraught with emotion and frustration, underscored how far South Sudan has fallen in the eyes of many current and former U.S. policymakers who helped orchestrate the country’s independence from Sudan.

South Sudan is a rare test case of the United States midwifing a country into existence, trying to help create a new democracy from scratch. When the country first gained independence seven years ago, after five decades of a bloody guerrilla struggle with Sudan, it was received with a surge of optimism.

Perhaps nowhere outside of South Sudan was there as much optimism as in Washington, where U.S. officials across three presidential administrations had developed relationships with South Sudanese figures over the decades they fought for independence.

“Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible,” then-President Barack Obama said on July 9, 2011, the day South Sudan formally marked independence.

That optimism crumbled in 2013 after political clashes between President Salva Kiir and then-Vice President Riek Machar spilled into a violent rebellion. It followed two years of political strife, economic woes, and little if any progress on development despite billions of dollars in foreign aid, blunted in part by government corruption.

What separates South Sudan from other humanitarian crises, Hudson said, is that U.S. officials for decades have cultivated close ties with South Sudanese rebels-turned-freedom fighters-turned-government officials, adding an emotional investment from the U.S. side that other conflicts may lack.

Kiir, the president, still wears a trademark cowboy hat after one was given to him by President George W. Bush in 2006 — one small symbol of the South Sudanese leadership’s long attachment to the United States.

New estimates have put the death toll in South Sudan at more than 380,000—proportionally a higher death toll than the conflict in Syria based on the two countries’ populations. Currently, there are some 2.5 million South Sudanese refugees who have fled the conflict to six neighboring countries, including Sudan, the country that South Sudanese sparred with for decades to gain independence.

According to Peter Pham, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, nearly 63 percent of the country’s population faces food insecurity in conditions that brush close to famine.

The conflict is also marked by atrocities by both government security and opposition forces, including executions, torture, gang rape, and sexual slavery, according to the State Department’s 2017 human rights report on South Sudan and studies by international human rights groups.

Last month, Kiir, Machar — now the head of the leading rebel group—and other rival factions signed the latest attempt at a peace deal following the collapse of one in 2015. Deng, speaking in Washington, insisted that his country had learned the lessons of the last collapsed peace deal.

Under the terms of the new peace deal, South Sudan will have five vice presidents and expand its parliament to 550 to include members from all rival factions. Deng said the peace deal emphasizes inclusivity among all parties, something the last peace deal failed to consider. Critics say the plan will only reinforce tribalism and ethnic divides without addressing the root causes of the conflict.

“Don’t attack it. Don’t understand it with the frame of mind of a Westerner or an American frame of mind,” Deng said, defending the deal. “We are still a Bedouin society where accommodation also is important. Accommodation also brings peace.”

The U.S. government, in a joint statement with the United Kingdom and Norway issued last month, said it remains committed to peace in South Sudan but skeptical it will stick given continued violence and blocking of access to humanitarian aid. “[I]n order to be convinced of the parties’ commitment, we will need to see a significant change in their approach,” the governments said.

Deng’s assurances didn’t appear to placate anyone in the room, all of whom kept pressing him on questions of whether the country would release political prisoners, how it would handle bringing war criminals to justice if the peace held, and how it would tackle corruption and governance issues, as well as becoming increasingly unsatisfied and exasperated with Deng’s answers.

Transparency International, an organization that monitors corruption, ranked South Sudan 179th out of 180 countries in its corruption index. An investigation released in March by the Enough Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors South Sudan, concluded that South Sudanese government officials and elite had plundered the country’s oil wealth to bankroll militias that carried out atrocities against civilians.

“The reality of the regime is anyone in any position of authority is almost certainly going to be deeply, deeply corrupt,” said Meservey, the Heritage Foundation expert.

At the end of the event, after Deng wrapped up his remarks, the other participants got up and left, some sighing and shaking their heads, others brushing past the South Sudanese delegation without saying goodbye to a leader in a country they themselves helped found.

“That was just incredible,” said one participant in attendance who declined to speak on record. “I came to see if they’re taking this peace deal seriously, if they’re taking the U.S. seriously, and it’s clear they’re not. It’s so sad.”

“The audaciousness of this visit and his messages were pretty beyond the pale,” said Hudson, the former U.S. official. “This isn’t like Syria. It’s not like Yemen. We invested in this relationship over decades. And after making all of these deposits of political, social, and economic good will, this is what we’re left with: a failed state.”

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. @RobbieGramer

Neo-Colonialism and a Faustian Bargain Undermine South Sudan’s Peace Deal

By John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, The Enough Project • enoughproject.org, September/20/2018, SSN;

Peace remains elusive in South Sudan. The latest in a line of peace deals – this one signed on September 12, 2018 between the South Sudan government and opposition – does not addressthe primary root cause of the war: the hijacking of governing institutions and the creation of a violent kleptocratic state that enriches senior officials and their commercial collaborators while doing nothing to provide social services, build infrastructure, create transparency, introduce accountability, reinforce the rule of law, or grow the economy of South Sudan.

Fueling this ongoing strife is a misguided focus on power-sharing instead of transforming the systems of governance.

By simply re-assigning positions of power, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), through its September 12, 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), has encouraged elites within the various warring parties to continue plundering the country’s economic and natural resources.

That some of the agreement’s official mediators, including Uganda and Sudan, stand to benefit politically and economically from this outcome reinforces the need for enforceable reforms that take aim at the kleptocratic system standing in the way of a sustainable peace.

The absence of a long-term diplomatic endgame allowed the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, each representing different sides in the conflict, to exploit the IGAD-led process for their own political and economic gain.

Fundamentally, this is a governance challenge, rooted in a political culture that views state resources as spoils, their value accruable to the elite alone.

Changing this mindset will require measures that force the costs of kleptocracy to far outweigh its gains.

Network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, for example, can disincentivize those at the top from prioritizing personal financial interests as their primary motivation.

Otherwise, political agreements like the one signed on September 12, 2018, will only provide a short-term stop gap to the conflict, not the long-term systemic change that the people of South Sudan need and deserve.

As personal financial gain takes precedence over common interests, political allegiances give way to the fragile alliances of self-serving kleptocrats.

Since these alliances are only as sustainable as their ability to siphon more of the country’s resources to rival elites, they hold little promise for forging meaningful consensus around the R-ARCSS.

A precursor to the likelihood that alliances will continue to shift during the peace accord’simplementation phase was the July 2016 splintering of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

The move then was motivated, in part, by a feeling among some of its leaders that the ruling SPLM party should have offered them more of a stake in the then-Transitional Government of National Unity.

When such elites seek to obtain more power— and, thus, wealth— by defecting, many taking up arms, they send a strong message to others who might otherwise be inclined to support governance reform.

It is no accident, for example, that some of those who voiced reservations and refused to sign an earlier precursor deal on governance in June have now splintered into subgroups that signed the September 12 peace accord— the better to take advantage of the financial opportunities they are convinced it affords.

Nowhere is this model of financial benefit through powersharing better exemplified than in the case of South Sudan’s military.

The recent move by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to promote 123 officers to the ranks of major-generals, in addition to promoting numerous other officers of lower rankson the eve of the peace agreement, will be countered by similar promotions on the part of the armed opposition groups, leading to an even more top-heavy security sector.

This represents a “brigadiers, but no soldiers” approach, motivated by a fear among elites that they could lose allies to rival camps.

This fear, of course, is misplaced: a top-heavy military, anchored in the expectation of material reward, undermines stability in the whole of South Sudan, weakening the state and making it more susceptible to chaos. That outcome ultimately benefits no one.

Still, finding common ground on institutional reform remains too high a price for these kleptocrats and their supporters, making peace — or its pre-requisites, security and stability— as elusive as ever.

Complicating the situation further, the September 12 peace arrangement is unlikely to garner international financial support for some of its vital components, including the cantonment of forces.

This, in turn, may negatively affect the agreement’s security arrangements, leaving only a bloated government, marred by red tape and ill-equipped to deliver vital services or support development efforts.

The implications are clear: reconstruction will be slow or non-existent; refugees may still be stranded in camps, refusing to go home without financial support and security guarantees; and South Sudan’s future will remain in doubt.

A dangerous marriage of convenience: Two independent outcomes— the threat of financial network sanctions from the main sponsors of the peace talks and corruption-induced bankruptcy— brought President Salva Kiir and the main opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, to the negotiating table in June of this year.

As a result, President Kiir, who only a week earlier had refused to work with Dr. Machar in a transitional government, rescinded his decision after realizing that he was likely to be singled out by the international community as the main obstacle to peace.

Dr. Machar, on the other hand, has gone easy on the two-army arrangement and accepted the ultimate reunification of the armed forces while also playing down his principal demand for a federal system.

All indications are that Dr. Machar and President Kiir together forged a marriage of convenience with their Sudanese and Ugandan counterparts, whose influence grew as the Troika —the United States, Britain, and Norway— exited the peace process.

This left the process exposed to the influence, motivations and machinations of Sudan and Uganda, which prioritized their own interests.

Although this outcome allows Kiir and Machar to maintain their grip on power in Juba, retaining their titles as President and First Vice President, it amounts to a kind of Faustian bargain, with Khartoum securing the resumption of crude oil production in South Sudan as well as $26 for each barrel produced over the next three years, according to the Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan signed in 2012.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s remaining share from each barrel sold will be spent buying goods from Uganda, creating a trade imbalance that vastly advantages Kampala.

Critics of these capitulations say they owe to coercive negotiating tactics, particularly by the Sudanese delegation.

Although key South Sudanese stakeholders attended the talks, including civil society, women, and youth, their participation was limited by Khartoum’s aggressive mediation strategy, which curtailed participants’ ability to provide input, critique the proposals, and serve as equal partners at the negotiating table.

When smaller opposition groups expressed reservations about the outcome, they were threatened into signing the accord, thus raising questions about their commitment to its implementation.

What is clear is that any “peace” arrived at through coercive and exclusionary tactics will only harden distrust between South Sudan and neighboring countries.

Just as this atmosphere led to the collapse of the August 2015 peace deal, it bodes ill for the current agreement.

True to form, the final text agreed to by al-Bashir, Museveni, Machar and Kiir glosses over numerous important issues that remain disputed.

These include the number of contested states, the quorum of cabinet and parliament meetings and the constitution-making process.

Each of these could spark a disagreement over boundary issues, which could reignite the conflict and delay the reintegration of rebel forces.

Neocolonialism:

While the realignment of relationships in East Africa has led to the normalization of ties between Eritrea and its former enemies Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan, cooperation between Uganda and Sudan in this case has regrettably come at the expense of the South Sudanese people.

The blatant attempt by Sudan and Uganda to control and dominate the future economic and political dispensation in South Sudan, together with the silence of IGAD and the broader international community, has emboldened both countries to take a new posture akin to that of a neo-colonial master.

The passive stance of South Sudan’s other neighbors as well as other international actors has allowed al-Bashir, a ruthless dictator, to gain an

What is clear is that any “peace” arrived at through coercive and exclusionary tactics will only harden distrust between South Sudan and neighboring countries.

unacceptable level of control over South Sudan’s oil sector, despite the fact that the country was born through a referendum in which 98.8 percent of South Sudan’s people voted for an independent and sovereign nation.

IGAD has given al-Bashir an opportunity to inject Khartoum’s influence into a peace agreement that was meant to end the suffering in South Sudan.

Instead, the deal ultimately has allowed the Sudanese regime to buttress its collapsing economy. Al-Bashir has been working hard to achieve this goal.

He has managed to see the core SPLM dismantled while also working to defeat or contain the myriad rebellions in Sudan by ensuring great influence over the flow of resources as well as the military of South Sudan.

Even the mechanisms for monitoring and verifying compliance with the September 12 agreement will be led by Sudan and Uganda.

After so many died for South Sudan’ssovereignty, Juba’s elites are returning power to Khartoum to further their own interests.

The powerful role that Uganda and Sudan have enshrined for themselves in the outcome of this agreement represents neocolonialism at its worst and serves as an economic coup by those in Khartoum and Kampala who seek to benefit at the expense of the people of South Sudan.

Once the implications are fully understood by the country’s population, further instability could ensue.

Dismantling the violent kleptocracy:

In South Sudan, power-sharing agreements have proven to be inadequate short-term fixes for underlying systemic challenges to governance.

It is of vital importance that South Sudanese leaders continue negotiating long-term solutions that directly address the causes of the conflict, transforming societal structures through internal dialogue and reform of the country’s security and financial sectors.

The international community must employ network sanctions targeted against the key military and civilian officials in South Sudan and their commercial enablers both inside and outside the country.

These network sanctions, along with robust anti-money laundering measures, can change the incentive structure for those benefiting from the cycles of violence and absence of rule of law.

Only then can South Sudan move from a weak, near-term power-sharing agreement to a framework for long-term change, one that dismantles the country’s violent kleptocracy.

For this to happen, South Sudan’s leaders must ensure that financial crimes, such as theft of state assets and exploitation of natural resources, do not continue with impunity.

Structural reform should focus on transforming the institutions of national security, including the military, the expenditures and abuses of which have hampered socio-economic development.

And instead of leaving economic sectors to be controlled by a handful of individuals who are well-connected to the country’s leadership, South Sudan must foster inclusive institutions at all levels of government.

This inclusiveness can be shepherded by civil society. By maintaining pressure on South Sudanese leaders during the implementation phase of the R-ARCSS, reform-minded civil society organizations can do what the international community has failed to do: hold these actors accountable for their commitments, lend transparency in resource management, and ensure participation in the constitution-making process.

Conclusion

*** As it stands, the R-ARCSS all but ensures that very little will change in South Sudan, with those in power continuing to enrich themselves at the expense of their country.

*** Government officials will continue to award themselves generous allowances regardless of the budget, those in power will continue to move the proceeds of corruption and natural resource exploitation outside the country and into the international financial system, and decision-makers will continue to grant virtually condition-free government contracts to their supporters.

*** Indeed, South Sudan will lurch from crisis to crisis until the levers of financial pressure, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, as well as the establishment and robust implementation of the Hybrid Court called for in the R-ARCSS, change the calculus of the self-interested power brokersin Juba.

*** Until then, rampant corruption and natural resource looting, combined with meddling from Khartoum and Kampala, will continue to economically exploit a young nation that fought so hard for its freedom.

John Prendergast, report co-author and Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “As it stands, the peace deal all but ensures that very little will change in South Sudan, with those in power continuing to enrich themselves at the expense of their country. Government officials will continue to award themselves generous allowances regardless of the budget, those in power will continue to move the proceeds of corruption and natural resource exploitation outside the country and into the international financial system, and decision-makers will continue to grant virtually condition-free government contracts to their supporters. Indeed, South Sudan will lurch from crisis to crisis until the levers of financial pressure, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, as well as the establishment and robust implementation of the Hybrid Court change the calculus of the self-interested power brokers in Juba.”

Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “In South Sudan, power-sharing agreements have proven to be inadequate short-term fixes for underlying systemic challenges to governance. It is of vital importance that South Sudanese leaders continue negotiating long-term solutions that directly address the causes of the conflict, transforming societal structures through internal dialogue and reform of the country’s security and financial sectors.”

South Sudan: Kiir’s Government troops and militias given free rein to commit new atrocities

SEPT/09/2018-Press Release, Amnesty International;

The staggering brutality of a recent military offensive in South Sudan – including murder of civilians, systematic rape of women and girls and massive looting and destruction – was fuelled by the authorities’ failure to prosecute or remove suspected war criminals, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

‘Anything that was breathing was killed’: War crimes in Leer and Mayendit, South Sudan is based on the testimonies of around 100 civilians who fled an offensive by government forces and allied youth militias in southern Unity State between late April and early July this year.

“A key factor in this brutal offensive was the failure to bring to justice those responsible for previous waves of violence targeting civilians in the region,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Regional Director for East Africa at Amnesty International.

“Leer and Mayendit counties have been hard hit in the past, and yet the South Sudanese government continues to give suspected perpetrators free rein to commit fresh atrocities. The result has been catastrophic for civilians.”

Civilians murdered in villages and swamps

Unity State has witnessed some of the most ruthless violence since the conflict in South Sudan started nearly five years ago.

The most recent wave of violence broke out on 21 April 2018 and lasted until early July – a week after the latest ceasefire was brokered on 27 June.

Dozens of civilian women and men told Amnesty International how the offensive was characterized by staggering brutality, with civilians deliberately shot dead, burnt alive, hanged in trees and run over with armoured vehicles in opposition-held areas in Mayendit and Leer counties.

Soldiers and militias used amphibious vehicles to hunt down civilians who fled to nearby swamps. Survivors described how groups of five or more soldiers swept through the vegetation in search of people, often shooting indiscriminately into the reeds.

Nyalony, an elderly woman, told Amnesty International she witnessed soldiers killing her husband and two other men:

“When the attack started, early in the morning while we were sleeping, my husband and I ran to the swamp together. Later in the morning, after the fighting was over, the soldiers came into the swamp looking for people, and sprayed the area where we were hiding with bullets. My husband was hit; he cried out in pain. He was still alive, though, and the soldiers caught him, and then they shot him again and killed him. He was unarmed and wasn’t a fighter; just a farmer.”

Those unable to flee – especially the elderly, children and people with disabilities – were often killed in their villages. Several people described how elderly relatives or neighbours were burnt alive in their tukuls – traditional dwellings – and one man over 90 years old had his throat slit with a knife.

Nyaweke, a 20-year-old woman, told Amnesty International she witnessed the soldiers shooting her father and then brutally murdering several children in the village of Thonyoor, Leer county:

“There were seven men [soldiers] who collected the children and put them into a tukul and they set the tukul on fire. I could hear the screaming. They were four boys. One boy tried to come out and the soldiers closed the door on him. There were also five boys whom they hit against the tree, swinging them. They were two [or] three years old. They don’t want especially boys to live because they know they will grow up to become soldiers.”

Other survivors described similarly horrific incidents, including one in Rukway village in Leer, where an elderly man and woman and their two young grandsons were burnt to death in a house. When their daughter ran out, carrying a small baby, a soldier shot her and crushed the baby to death with his foot.

‘They lined up to rape us’

Survivors also told Amnesty International that government and allied forces abducted numerous civilians, primarily women and girls, and held them for up to several weeks. Their captors subjected them to systematic sexual violence – as one woman put it, “the Dinka lined up to rape us”.

Many women and girls were gang-raped, with some sustaining serious injuries. Those who tried to resist were killed.

One interviewee said a girl as young as eight was gang-raped and another woman witnessed the rape of a 15-year-old boy.

A 60-year-old man described finding his 13-year-old niece after she was gang-raped by five men:

“My brother’s daughter was raped and she was going to die. When they raped her, we came and found her and she was crying and bleeding … she couldn’t hide … she told me she was raped by five men. We could not carry her and she could not walk.”

In one village alone, Médecins Sans Frontières reported treating 21 survivors of sexual violence in a 48-hour period.

In addition to being raped, many of the abducted women and girls were subjected to forced labour, including carrying looted goods for long distances, as well as cooking and cleaning for their captors. Some of those abducted – including women and men – were held in metal containers and were beaten or otherwise ill-treated.

Trail of destruction

Government forces and allied militias engaged in massive looting and destruction during their attacks in Leer and Mayendit, apparently aimed at deterring the civilian population from returning.

They systematically set fire to civilian homes, looted or burned food supplies, and stole livestock and valuables.

Many survivors returned home from weeks or months in hiding only to find that everything had been destroyed. They described how food supplies in particular had been targeted – with crops burnt, livestock looted or killed, and even fruit trees uprooted.

This deliberate attack on food sources came as civilians in Leer and Mayendit were just beginning to recover from a famine had been declared in their counties in February 2017 – the first time since 2011 that famine was declared anywhere in the world.

Vicious cycle fuelled by impunity

Amnesty International previously visited Unity State in early 2016 and documented violations that took place during the previous military offensive on southern areas of the state, including Leer county.

Following that visit, the organization identified four individuals suspected of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity and called on South Sudan’s military chief-of-staff to investigate them. There was no response. Recent UN reports have suggested that some of these individuals may also have been involved in the atrocities committed during the 2018 offensive.

“It’s impossible to ignore the cruel reality – if the South Sudanese authorities had acted on our warnings back in 2016, this latest wave of violence against civilians in Leer and Mayendit might have been avoided,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

“The only way to break this vicious cycle of violence is to end the impunity enjoyed by South Sudanese fighters on all sides. The government must ensure that civilians are protected and that those responsible for such heinous crimes are held to account.”
Amnesty International is urging South Sudan’s government to end all the abuses and to establish immediately the Hybrid Court, which has been in limbo since 2015. The organization is also calling on the United Nations Security Council to enforce the long overdue arms embargo adopted in July.

Public Document
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please call:
Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on:
+44 20 7413 5566 or
email: press@amnesty.org
twitter: @amnestypress

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Have the Opposition’s “Reservations” been addressed in the revitalised peace agreement?

BY: Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, South Sudan, South Sudan, SEP/16/2018, SSN;

Finally, the revitalisation process for the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) drew to a close. The South Sudanese people and indeed the world at large, witnessed the signing of the peace agreement on the 12th of September 2018 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and in the presence of the IGAD Chairman, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed.

But the striking feature that emerged from the signing ceremony was that people were not all smiles. We saw how Dr Riek Machar extended his hand to shake President Kiir’s hand while the latter did the same but not looking him in the face.

It’s reminiscent of what we saw in Khartoum at the initialling ceremony of the Peace Agreement where President Kiir refused to shake hands with Dr Riek Machar.

If such an attitude could not be hidden away from the cameras on a world stage, is it realistic to expect a minimum of a healthy working relationship between the two leaders?!

People still do remember President Kiir’s statement that he can never work with Dr Riek Machar and that the latter can only be allowed to return to South Sudan as a citizen.

Would the attitude mentioned above not reinforce the fact that Salva Kiir hasn’t indeed changed his mind about working with Riek Machar?!

The South Sudanese people do not deserve such leaders to fill up positions doing nothing while plotting against each other. They expect a lot of hard work from those at the helm to move the country forward.

Our people want a government that would ensure the upholding of the rule of law, the provision of services, the commencement of development projects, and above all a lasting peace in the country.

It’s evident that such aspirations are to be put on hold in the presence of the current sort of relations between the President and his would-be First Vice President. At best, it would be more of the same if the July 2016 scenario doesn’t recur.

Mixed reactions received the peace agreement both from the South Sudanese people and from the international community. From the government side, it was quite obvious how jubilant was the Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, declaring that all have signed the peace agreement which was untrue.

The National Salvation Front (NAS), the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), the United Democratic Republic Alliance (UDRA), Former Political Detainee (FPD) – in opposition if you will, the National Resistance Front (NRF), and the United People’s Democratic Movement (UPDM) rejected the peace agreement.

The reason that the Minister of Information could hardly hide his glee is that those who signed the deal have handed the government legitimacy on a silver platter. Should things go wrong, and the agreement isn’t adhered to, it would continue as a legitimate government, and that would allow her to conduct elections on its own.

As for the majority of the South Sudanese people, it looks like a Deja vu of what happened in August 2015 albeit this time the reservations were from the side of the opposition. Scepticism is rife because as we speak, violence is underway in many parts of the country.

It’s only yesterday that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM IO) Deputy Spokesperson brought to our attention the on-going fighting in the Yei area and Unity State. But on top of that, there are new factors that weren’t there before complicating the whole situation.

The recent deployment of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in Equatoria and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Upper Nile has introduced a new dimension to the conflict that could quickly degenerate into a regional war.

The great African war (aka the African World War) of 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is still vivid in the memories of many people. The notion of such a situation happening in South Sudan is not far-fetched.

These forces are there to prop up Kiir’s government making it almost impossible to establish any trust between it and the parties to the agreement.

The international community did send out a message of its own regarding the revitalised ARCSS. Firstly, we noticed that the Troika group of countries and the European Union (EU) did not append their signatures to the revitalised peace agreement.

Secondly, the Troika showed its scepticism concerning the deal unequivocally. In a statement following the big event, it said a significant change from the parties in the implementation of the agreement needs to be seen on the ground before it could support the deal. It also cited the repeated ceasefire violations that resulted in the recent death of civilians in Wau and the killing of 13 aid workers since the beginning of the peace talks.

Thirdly, it did cast some doubts on the implementation of the agreement in spirit and letter to the extent that it threatened to withdraw funding should nothing tangible happens.

Many international personalities thought what was signed in Addis Ababa on 12/09/2018 was a caricature of a credible peace agreement. John Prendergast, Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, said I quote, “Today’s peace deal lacks meaningful checks and balances on a presidency that already wields immense powers, which are primarily used to loot the country’s resources and to deploy extreme violence against opponents.”

Such are the reactions of the majority of the stakeholders in South Sudan as well as the friends and well-wishers of the South Sudanese people. Those in the opposition who chose to sign the peace agreement are now trying vainly to sell it to the populace. They are saying that they signed the peace agreement because the IGAD heads of States resolved their 4-point reservations.

I do not believe in the first place that there were genuine reservations but rather a ploy to save face for abandoning SSOA’s stated positions.

I have seen a document purportedly written by Dr Lam Akol and also read what he said on Radio Tamazuj. He was trying to justify their decision to sign the agreement stating that their reservations were all met.

However, he was deliberately inaccurate as he said all the opposition groups have agreed to sign the peace agreement. But now we know that there is a split within his Movement, the National Democratic Movement (NDM).

Likewise, SSOA appears to have split up into two groups. Yesterday evening I came across the joint statement to the people of South Sudan and the international community issued by some members of SSOA explaining their reasons for rejecting the revitalised peace agreement. The group included NAS, PDM, FPD-in opposition, NDM, and UDRA. Ambassador Emmanuel Aban signed on behalf of the NDM.

But I would like to present a counter-argument to Dr Lam’s assertion that all issues were resolved. Lam Akol is presumably talking on behalf of SSOA being the person tasked with matters related to governance.

It’s apparent that the agreement takes care of the elites by the formation of a bloated government but not the problems facing the common man on a daily basis in South Sudan.

1. The number of States: ARCSS is based on ten states; thus it cannot be revitalised by legitimising a violation namely the 32 States. Dr Lam Akol talks of two committees one for tribal boundaries and the other for the number of States. It means that they have recognised Kiir’s 32 States.

Furthermore, they have accepted the use of tribal boundaries to resolve a political problem setting a precedent for creating States on that basis. Perhaps it’s the first time in contemporary history that tribal boundaries would now be employed to establish what is necessarily required for good governance, efficient administration, and equitable services delivery.

The move would likely open a Pandora’s box that would exacerbate the conflict. For example, what would they say if every tribe in South Sudan asks for a separate State? What would be their argument to deny the smaller tribes of having their States? Then would it be realistic to have 64 States based on tribal boundaries?!

2. Quorum in the council of ministers: The government still maintains the majority with the inclusion of 6 members from the opposition. It can decide on something without the opposition and enact whatever it wants. It would also be possible for the government to use covert means to recruit allies and achieve the quorum for a cabinet meeting.

Here; those members of SSOA seem to forget that Kiir and his government lack legitimacy. The solution would have been a rotational Presidency and insistence on increasing the quorum.

3. Constitution: The explanation given is that the government wanted a review of the Constitution while the oppositions demanded a Constitution-making process. The resolution is to commence a workshop on the matter that would be facilitated with a renowned international institute like the Max Planck. The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 (TCRSS 2011 amended 2015) never required a workshop, why now?! It’s a deviation from the main issues.

Strangely enough, there was no mention of federalism anywhere in the statement. It makes one wonders whether these leaders have fallen prey to the delaying tactics of the government or still worse, they might have foregone federalism.

4. The issue of the guarantors on the Security Arrangement: It’s untrue to say that no force can enter South Sudan without permission from the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) because of the Arms Embargo. Sudan and Uganda have sent troops into South Sudan while the Arms Embargo is in full force. I have seen a video clip showing the UPDF entering the Yei River area. Have the two countries sought UNSC permission before sending their troops into South Sudan? As far as I am aware and presumably all of you, nothing of that sort happened.

As the war rages on even during the signing of the revitalised peace agreement, the beginning of the end is not in sight. Hence, peace remains elusive in the views of the majority of the people of South Sudan.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

South Sudan’s New Peace Deal Could Bring More War

BY: John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, The Daily Beast, SEP/12/2018, SSN;

Wednesday’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns which the authors described as ‘kakocracy- meaning the “rule or government by the worst of the people.”

The peace deal signed today, September 12, 2018, between the government of South Sudan and armed opposition groups has significant shortcomings that could easily lead the country right back to full-scale war.

The South Sudanese have endured immense suffering in the last five years as the fighting has brought on food shortages and massive displacement. Nearly five million people have been forced out of their homes, inside and outside the country. Uncounted thousands are dead.

The country’s economy is a write-off. Double-digit inflation has ensured that millions are on a knife’s edge of survival and the risk of famine still looms large.

At the root of the conflict in South Sudan is the existence of a state whose institutions have been hijacked and repurposed to benefit a few top-level politicians.

Other groups, each clamoring for a bigger piece of the pie—or the whole of it—then engaged in a violent contest to capture the state, plunging the country into a deadly war.

Today’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns.

It lacks meaningful checks and balances on executive overreach in a country in which the presidency already wields immense powers that are used mainly to loot the country’s resources and deploy extreme violence against opponents, whether military or civilian.

Beneath the veneer of power-sharing arrangements on a host of contentious issues, including state borders being redrawn by the regime to reinforce its control among regional and ethnic bases, lurk several articles that grant undue advantage to the chief executive.

Worst of all, this peace agreement lacks realistic outcomes on many of the most contentious issues.

Over the years, South Sudan’s vast oil revenues have been pocketed by high-level politicians and their families, carted out of the country and invested in high-value property and other businesses.

An inquiry into the root causes of the conflict by the African Union in 2015 identified corruption as a major driver of conflict in the country.

This looting of the public purse requires a solution that will stop politicians dipping into state coffers for their own financial benefit.

Yet in many aspects, the new peace deal fails to undo the theft of government revenue by entrusting the same politicians with final oversight on revenue spending without any meaningful restraint.

Beyond checks on executive power, any peace pact between armed protagonists is underpinned by its security arrangements.

With ambiguous, unrealistic, and unsustainable expectations, the current security arrangements are a mish-mash of stipulations that create doubt and uncertainty for the leaders of armed groups on the critical matter of security in the capital, Juba, and funding for the cantonment of insurgent fighters.

These challenges could unravel the whole agreement and plunge the country into another cycle of deadly violence.

The regional mediators behind this deal succeeded in getting the protagonists talking again and persuaded them to respect a signed ceasefire, but this could be nothing more that the lull before the big storm with the consequences looming on the horizon like a category five hurricane.

However, it need not be this way.

The United States, Europe, and other friends of the South Sudanese people must build more leverage to ensure implementation of a peace deal that addresses the systemic problems fueling the war.

The U.S holds the biggest potential stick. Recent U.S targeted sanctions on individuals and entities behind the war in South Sudan had some impact, giving the government an incentive to sign the current deal, but much greater pressure will be required for its implementation, and for good governance to have a chance.

What is required, specifically, is for the U.S. and other willing nations to impose sanctions on the networks of South Sudanese officials and their commercial collaborators who continue to loot the country’s resources, and to combine those sanctions with anti-money-laundering measures designed ultimately to deny the war criminals and their commercial collaborators access to the international banking system.

America and Europe must raise the cost to those facilitating the destruction of the world’s newest country as well as those benefiting from it, in particular the banking and real estate sectors in countries neighboring South Sudan.

Until the costs of war and chaos outweigh their benefits, the deadly status quo will remain, no matter what pieces of paper are signed. END

Brian Adeba is Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project; John Prendergast is Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry.

Will the Latest Deal Bring Peace in South Sudan?

BY: Aly Verjee and Payton Knopf, United States Insstitute of Peace (USIP) Analysis and Commentary, AUG/20/2018, SSN;

Although welcomed by many citizens, the deal’s serious deficiencies could exacerbate the conflict.

On August 5, the warring parties in South Sudan signed an agreement which calls for the formation of another power-sharing government. The previous power-sharing government collapsed in July 2016, and the war has since spread throughout the country.

USIP’s Aly Verjee and Payton Knopf discuss the developments that led to the deal, identify the agreement’s risks and deficiencies, and assess future prospects for the peace process.

More than four years of civil war in South Sudan have chased millions from their homes, leaving countless farms abandoned. (Kassie Bracken/The New York Times)

Since the peace talks moved to Khartoum, Sudan, several agreements have been signed. Some media reported the August 5 agreement as a “final deal.” What is happening in the South Sudan peace process?

Verjee: The August 5 agreement is not a final deal. Negotiations were recently extended to August 27, and may well be extended again. The August 5 agreement was the sixth interim agreement signed since Sudan assumed control of the mediation process at the end of June, after Ethiopia relinquished its role as the lead mediator.

Assuming the remaining disputed issues and details are agreed, the negotiators will sign a final, consolidated document. That text will serve as the basis for the establishment of a new, transitional, power-sharing government, and require new security arrangements across the country.

It will also continue commitments to earlier economic, social and accountability measures made under the 2015 peace agreement, many of which were unimplemented.

In principle, this sounds fine—but there are major challenges ahead. There are serious deficiencies in the deal that may make things worse, particularly in the security sector.

An unrealistic timeline for the integration of forces may lead to another security collapse.

The uncertainty of measures for the demilitarization of urban areas could set the stage for new confrontations: a risk heightened by the memory of the battles in the capital, Juba, that both began the war in December 2013 and led to the 2015 agreement’s collapse.

Not all the aggrieved parties are yet included in the deal, which may incentivize some to keep fighting.

And perhaps most crucially, there is little evidence of genuine political will and desire to reform among those that signed the deal.

Will they spend the country’s resources to rebuild the ruined economy rather than enrich themselves?

Will they hold accountable those soldiers and commanders responsible for war crimes, and, ultimately agree to downsize the army?

Can they trust each other to govern collectively?

The enthusiasm with which many South Sudanese greeted the deal indicates how desperate people are for any chance of peace. But we are a long way from that peace becoming a certainty.

How have these latest developments in the peace process been influenced by political shifts in the region?

Knopf: The center of gravity in the peace process has rapidly shifted from Ethiopia to Sudan. Ethiopia had forcefully maintained control of the mediation, as well as the related cease-fire monitoring mechanism, since the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013.

But since taking office in April, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has undertaken a dizzying diplomatic effort in the region: he has brokered rapprochement with Eritrea, mitigated tensions on the use of the Nile with Egypt, and attempted to defuse political tensions in Somalia.

These issues have taken priority over efforts to end South Sudan’s civil war.

Sudan has taken the opportunity of being in the driver’s seat to secure its own security and economic interests in South Sudan.

One of the agreements signed allows Sudanese forces to potentially occupy the oil fields.

The government of Sudan’s interests are not likely to align with those of the people of South Sudan nor are they predicated on preserving the country’s sovereignty.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has also played a prominent role in the Khartoum talks, and attended the signing of agreements in June and August in Khartoum.

The Khartoum talks have shown that Sudan and Uganda can align their interests and find mutually beneficial arrangements in South Sudan, in contrast to the conventional wisdom that they are at perennial logger-heads on South Sudan.

But these arrangements may come at the expense of South Sudan’s citizens.

Verjee: Ethiopia’s long-term interests may not be served by withdrawing from the South Sudan mediation process. South Sudan’s dysfunction could once more undermine Ethiopian border security as well as broader regional interests.

Given its comparatively limited economic exposure to South Sudan, Ethiopia remains the region’s most honest broker. But Ethiopia also wants to accommodate Sudanese interests, which may help explain Abiy’s willingness to concede the file to Khartoum.

Khartoum has interests in numerous unresolved issues related to South Sudan’s secession: the apportionment of billions of dollars of debt, the final status of the disputed territory of Abyei and the demarcation of the border, to name but three.

For offering a lifeline to South Sudan’s incumbent president, Salva Kiir, who remains in power as head of the transitional government, Sudan may drive a hard bargain.

What are the implications for the humanitarian situation in South Sudan?

Knopf: There is no evidence to suggest that the deals reached in Khartoum will meaningfully address South Sudan’s humanitarian catastrophe. As discussed above, they are more likely to exacerbate rather than defuse the conflict and insecurity that underlie the humanitarian emergency.

The United States contributes nearly $1 billion out of the $1.8 billion per year in international humanitarian assistance. In May, the United States announced a review “to ensure our assistance does not contribute to or prolong the conflict or facilitate predatory or corrupt behavior.”

While the review is not yet complete, it is hard to imagine that any donor can sustain these funding levels for years to come.

Concurrently, the humanitarian community should use the U.S. assistance review to put forward humanitarian policy proposals that include a rigorous and honest analysis of the interaction between aid and the political economy of the conflict.

Such an approach could help improve humanitarian outcomes for the South Sudanese.

With the likelihood of further deterioration and fragmentation of the political, security, and economic landscape in South Sudan, this is all the more vital.

There is increasing evidence that some relief efforts have been manipulated by the warring parties to advance their own political and military objectives.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of collective experience in South Sudan and other complex humanitarian emergencies for navigating challenges to the integrity of relief operations during periods of conflict that can and should be drawn upon.

What are the future prospects for the peace process and what should the United States do now?

Verjee: Khartoum is not letting go of the peace process. It is essential now that the United States ensures that whatever final deal is put in place, it first does no harm.

The U.S. could help the mediation advance de-escalating, enforceable arrangements for the security aspects of the agreement and be clear about what other provisions it could support.

If the security arrangements fail, the power-sharing component of any deal becomes irrelevant. This should be a key lesson from the collapse of the 2015 agreement.

Knopf: The historic irony of Sudan leading these mediation efforts brings into sharp relief the absence of purposeful U.S. diplomatic engagement in South Sudan and the broader region.

The U.S. should accept that only a new mediation effort could improve the prospects of ending the war and the humanitarian crisis.

The question is whether the United States is prepared to exert its influence to achieve this and ensure that the process does not only benefit Khartoum, Kampala and the South Sudanese elites who have perpetuated a horrific war.

The United States remains the most influential external actor in the region. Uganda is, for example, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in sub-Saharan Africa.

And there are at present unique diplomatic opportunities: the second phase of the bilateral normalization process between the U.S. and Sudan provides the administration significant leverage to shape Khartoum’s policy approaches toward South Sudan.

Effective action has been hampered by the failure to designate a senior official empowered to develop and execute the administration’s strategy.

Such an individual must have the stature to engage with the regional heads of state, who ultimately call the shots, and have sufficient standing in Washington to bring to bear the coordinated weight of all the agencies of the U.S. government. END

SPLM-IO’s flawed peace strategy against Kiir

By: Duop Chak Wuol, South Sudan, AUG/11/2018, SSN;

The recently signed Khartoum’s power-sharing deal between the incumbent Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Former Detainees (FDs), and Other Political Parties (OPP) has flaws that need methodical scrutiny.

This seemingly Juba’s predetermined pact will not bring about changes demanded by the people of South Sudan.

The agreement shows that the SPLM-IO abandons its ambitious reform agenda which it has been fighting for more than four years. This is a serious political blunder and pure embracement for the tyrannical system which the armed opposition countlessly vows to reform.

This is an attempt to show that the SPLM-IO’s overall peace strategy is seriously flawed; perhaps it is on life-support if it is not dead.

There are many political mistakes that the supposedly reformist SPLM-IO party has committed. These mistakes include expansion of the government, the issue of 32 states, transitional security arrangements, failure to address the root causes of the civil war, among others.

But the most important strategic blunder made by the SPLM-IO is probably the legislative one.

Since early 2014, the armed opposition has consistently claimed that its main goal is to change the political system in the country.

The people of South Sudan embrace the idea because they know the only way to reform the current oppressive system is by having a truly and independent legislative body to pass laws that reflect South Sudanese wishes.

But the recent pact clearly failed the people. It is baffling to see the leadership of the SPLM-IO abandoning demands of the people by accepting a deal which embraces Salva Kiir’s ruthlessness.

If this peace ends the conflict, it will be good for the country. But the irony is that it will still maintain Kiir’s tyranny because the SPLM-IO parliamentarians will have no means to limit his grip on power.

In any nation, reforms are done through legislative means, not by wild assumptions. It would be a mistake to think that Kiir will support the armed opposition reform agenda in the parliament.

The man still fantasizes about his one-man rule. He likes ruling the country through presidential decrees.

So, the notion that reforms will be done after the SPLM-IO rejoined the government is a pure fantasy.

Statistically, Kiir has the numbers to deny any reform agenda he does not like or want. He can do it by instructing his parliamentarians not to vote for any bill that would limit his powers.

The signed document, for example, proposes that the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) will have 550 Members of Parliament (MPs).

The revitalized text gave the incumbent TGoNU 332 MPs (60.4%), whereas 23.3% (128 MPs) will represent the SPLM-IO, 50 MPs (9.1%) allocated to SSOA, 5.5% (30 MPs to OPP, and 10 MPs (1.8%) are awarded to FDs.

In the war of numbers, it is 60.4% vs. 39.6%. Meaning, the government MPs clearly outnumbered all opposition MPs combined.

It is strikingly a solemn misjudgment on the SPLM-IO’s part. It is worth noting that the government does not have a two-thirds majority in the TNLA — which would have been 366.7 MPs (66.7% to 33.3%) out of the proposed 550 MPs.

This calculation has a +1 margin of error. In a logical sense, Kiir parliamentary bloc needs an additional 34.7 MPs to pass any law it wants.

Remember, South Sudan is full of briefcase political parties. Most of these parties are not fighting for the people of South Sudan, they are fighting for themselves.

For them, it is a war over positions and Kiir could still bribe 34.7 MPs from these self-serving parties to pass any law he wants. These are Mathematical truths.

The SPLM-IO can create its own excuses, but I am certain that any opposing view, denying these facts would be indisputably counterintuitive.

The SPLM-IO’s central argument is that it signed the deal because it wants South Sudanese refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to have a sense of peace and possibly return to their homes, let alone its reform agenda.

This is indisputably a good humanitarian gesture. However, signing an agreement simply because you want IDPs and refugees currently under the protection of the United Nations (UN) peacekeepers to come out and go back to their houses is not a plausible idea.

The SPLM-IO cannot force civilians it cannot possibly protect to go back to their homes where they will be vulnerable to Juba’s brutality.

It would be better for the SPLM-IO to just sign any pact it desires and not allow any provision in any deal that would then force refugees and IDPs to leave UN-run camps for their homes where insecurity is widespread.

Calling for innocent civilians to leave their secured places for their homes which are under the control of Juba’s oppressive regime reminds me of Salva Kiir who always wants to grant an amnesty to anyone who opposes his regime so that he can prolong his tyranny without a formidable opposition.

I suggest the leadership of the SPLM-IO thinks deeply about this issue.

Why would the SPLM-IO sign a peace which embraces Kiir’s ruthlessness, forgets the victims of the SPLM self-made war, and ignores people’s demands for change?

Did the armed opposition forget what it has been fighting for the last four-and-a-half years? What really happens to SPLM-IO’s reform agenda? Is the armed opposition reform agenda dead?

There is no doubt in my mind that the legislative branch will pose a daunting challenge to the SPLM-IO and other opposition parties.

However, this challenge could be minimized or even frustrated if all opposition MPs work together as a united bloc in the parliament.

If this happens, then the incumbent government could be forced to collaborate or make deals with opposition MPs which would then allow the SPLM-IO and other political parties to enact some laws.

Leaving this obvious political risk aside, I honestly believe that political and economic reforms under this deal will not be feasible given the fact that Kiir still cherishes the idea of appointing and removing people through his dictatorial decrees.

As I have already indicated, the agreement has many pro-Kiir provisions.

But ending the suffering of South Sudanese who are now living under dire conditions in refugee camps and foreign countries is the number one priority.

If the incumbent TGoNU and the SPLM-IO are serious about peace and fully implement it, then they will be thanked by the people of South Sudan for ending the war.

However, the fact that the armed opposition lacks the necessary number of MPs to reform the political system in the country is even worse.

It would be a wishful thinking for the SPLM-IO to assume that its transformation agenda will be magically done when it knows the number of its MPs is not enough to execute its policies through parliamentary processes.

The Khartoum’s power-sharing deal will not bring the much-needed political reforms in the country.

This agreement is merely a classic case of a new political marriage between the government and SPLM-IO.

This pact is also a reminder for the people of South Sudan that reforms championed by the armed opposition could be a thing of the past.

It is clear, however, that all factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) seem to be interested in reuniting themselves under the same old dictatorial umbrella.

It is good to remind people that Kiir and Machar have already agreed to cantonments of their troops and deployment of the East African and African Union forces to enforce the cessation of hostilities.

However, this is not new since the two leaders had previously signed many agreements before and violated them. One of these violations occurred in July 2016, when Kiir colluded with the current First Vice President Taban Deng to hijack the August 2015 compromise deal.

Kiir is not for a lasting peace in the country.

His main concern is not to end the war, rather it is to sign any peace that maintains its ruthlessness, lures leaders of the SPLM-IO to Juba in a pretext of the pact and refuses to implement the agreement.

Kiir demonstrated his unwillingness to implement the deal on August 8 at Bilpham military headquarters when he told his troops that they should be prepared to receive and integrate the armed opposition soldiers.

This is not what the security arrangements stipulate. The security pact specifies that both incumbent government and rebel forces shall be screened and classified based on established military standards and those who pass such a screening will be combined and given proper training during the Pre-transitional period.

This provision was included in the proposal to make sure South Sudan has a professional army after the three transitional periods.

Kiir is the one who does not want peace to return to the country. He violated many pacts by refusing to release the armed opposition officials he kidnapped as well as Prisoners of Wars (POWs) even though this demand was clearly stipulated in the previous ceasefire agreements.

The people of South Sudan are not interested in this elitist agreement. As you can see, Kiir is trying to deceive people before the deal is even finalized — this is how he operates.

The man is a cunning oppressor who cannot be trusted when it comes to peace. The armed opposition should not succumb to this dubious accord — an accord which irrefutably castoffs reforms demanded by the people.

Having a defined and well-developed political doctrine is essential for any political party to succeed.

The SPLM-IO is theoretically an opposition party. It’ll, supposedly, if all things go as planned, have its own political and economic agendas that it would want to be passed by the parliament.

The armed opposition knows its success in the TNLA may not be feasible given the fact that it lacks numbers to wage a successful legislative fight.

Politics is all about strategies, numbers, games, back-stabbing, making closed-door deals, and selling your policies to the people.

If the SPLM-IO wants its reform agenda to survive, it must have specific policies in place and these policies must be staunchly championed and defended by the leadership of the SPLM-IO as well as its proposed parliamentarians.

If the armed opposition deserts its reform agenda, then it will be a new chapter for Kiir’s cruelty to continue and the death for a democratic hope for the country — it would be a chapter that the people of South Sudan would not like to see happening.

The SPLM-IO must not allow its democratic vision to die; it must continue to use all necessary means to make sure that those who lost their lives in the war did not die in vain.

The leadership of the SPLM-IO must rethink its peace strategy or it risks being an extension of Salva Kiir’s tyrannical regime.

The author can be reached at duop282@gmail.com.

LATEST: SSOA & SPLM-Former Detainees NOT Signing Khartoum Agreement with Kiir!!

Joint Press Statement by SSOA and SPLM-FDs, AUG/04/2018, SSN;

Further to our press release of yesterday, the 3rd of August 2018, the Mediation today told us in unequivocal terms that nothing will be changed in the agreement that was initialed on Wednesday the 25th and that they are going ahead tomorrow with the signing ceremony. He reiterated that this was their final position, thus closing the door for any further discussion on the matter.
In view of this development, SSOA and the SPLM-FDs have decided not to be part of the signing. It is unfortunate that the Mediation could not see the importance of having an inclusive agreement and decided to rush the process.
For us, this is not the end of the road. We shall continue to be part and parcel of the IGAD led High Level Revitalization Forum and will not abandon our efforts in the search for a just and sustainable peace in our war torn country so that our suffering people could relive their normal lives.
We thank H.E. President Omer Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir for his hospitality throughout the days we spent in Khartoum and for devoting his invaluable time to help bring about peace in South Sudan.
United we stand, divided we fall.
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Joint Press Statement by SSOA and SPLM-FDs: Refusal to sign Agreement

AUG/03/2018, SSN;

Since the “Agreement on Outstanding Issues of Governance” was initialed principally by the SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO on the 25th of July, SSOA and SPLM-FDs delegations have been engaging the Mediation on the possibility of making some changes that will make it possible for other Parties to sign so that the document is owned by all.

The discussion centred on Article 4 (number and boundaries of States) and sub-Articles 6.7 and 6.8 (National Pre-Transition Committee and its fund).

Article 5.1 (responsibility sharing in the States and Local governments) was already bracketed in the initialed agreement.

On Article 4, the contentious issues were related to the composition of the Independent Boundary Committee, its decision making and the default position in the event that the IBC Joint Press Statement by SSOA and SPLM-FDs fails to reach a final decision.

We gave several options on each of the three. For instance, we suggested that the default could be adopting the decision of the 55th Extra-Ordinary Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers dated 31 January 2016 or the seventy-nine (79) Counties as they stood on 9/7/2005 or the three regions or, as a last resort, arbitration.

The imposition of the 32 States was an illegality that contravened the Agreement on the bResolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) signed in August 2015.

It should have just been reversed since we are revitalizing ARCSS. Yet, we went this far because we are keen to bring peace to our suffering people.

Our flexibility should not be seen to be a sign of weakness to the extent that we can contemplate legalizing an illegality by accepting a referendum as a default position.

Also, in relation to NPTC, it cannot be formed by any other than IGAD since it was to work during the Pre-Transitional Period.

We met H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan who is also the Chief Mediator on 29 July 2018 and presented to him the issues we believe should be bracketed for us to be able to sign the Agreement on Outstanding Governance Issues on Sunday the 5th of August.

He promised to look into these points.

Yesterday, the 2nd of August, His Excellency the Minister informed us that he has made consultations with the Parties and that Juba has rejected to have our concerns taken onboard and as such there was nothing he could do.

In view of this development, we would like to inform the public that we cannot sign the said agreement in its present form.

However, we stand ready to ink it if and when our concerns are addressed by the Mediators as above. END

The Tyranny of Greed in South Sudan

By: Duop Chak Wuol, South Sudan, JUL/28/2018, SSN;

Tyranny comes in many shapes and forms. It’s social, regional, economic, political and foreign. In South Sudan, Salva Kiir’s atrocious regime is being kept in power by Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Eritrea, and Morocco, as well as arms dealers in Ukraine and Bulgaria, among others, regardless of the level of carnage he has committed.

Kiir’s connection with these countries and international arms traffickers has turned South Sudan into a battleground for greedy nations, institutions and people who lack conscionable judgment.

The military assistance provided to Kiir’s regime directly and indirectly by Uganda, Egypt, Eritrea, Kenya, and Morocco encourages Juba’s ruthless regime not to accept any peace deal that calls for reforms unless such a pact maintains his cruelty.

For peace to return to the country, the international community must use its mandate under international treaties to punish Juba’s regime and its foreign backers.

Nations like Uganda, Kenya, and Egypt are Kiir’s main backers. They supply him with lethal arms and ammunition, and their main goal is to keep him in power, contrary to what the people of South Sudan demand.

It is good to keep in mind that Uganda and Kenya are members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and their leaders Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta are part of IGAD’s strategy to bring about a lasting peace in the country.

However, their dealings as Kiir’s regional weapons traffickers, money launderers and key players in the peace process make it impossible for the East African regional bloc to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

It is hard to comprehend how Ugandan President Museveni would accept a peace deal that strips power from his ally, Kiir. Those who believe that the Ugandan leader is working for peace are wrong.

Museveni is working to keep his grip on South Sudan’s commerce, and the only way for him to keep his bloody hands in South Sudan’s economy is by keeping Kiir in power.

The income Uganda generates from South Sudan and the undisclosed monthly payment Museveni receives from Kiir’s regime is enough to keep him pretending that he works for peace.

The Ugandan leader’s participation in the ongoing peace process cannot be trusted. The man has too much South Sudanese blood on his hands.

Museveni also committed atrocities on behalf of Kiir. For instance, he dropped poisonous and banned cluster bombs on rebel troops in January 2014, a well-documented incident.

In May 2014, the United Nations released a report detailing how cluster bombs were used against South Sudanese rebels, their destructive capacities, and why they were used. The report pointed a finger at the Ugandan air force.

Kenya is another important ally to South Sudan’s leader. Kenyatta’s government proved its loyalty to Kiir’s government by abducting rebel officials who lived in Nairobi and deporting them to Juba.

The kidnappings of the armed opposition leaders by Kenyan police in November 2016 and January 2017 was a well-coordinated act.

There are strong reasons to believe that South Sudan’s government bribed some of the Kenyan Members of Parliament (MPs). One of those bribed MPs was Weston Wanjohi Wahome, a figure cited in numerous reports by the United Nations (UN) and human rights organizations.

The Nairobi-Juba collusion was evident when rebel officials were abducted from their homes by Kenyan authorities.

After the kidnapping of the armed opposition officials, Weston publicly claimed that the abducted individuals were just going home to their country and that there was nothing to worry about.

The South Sudanese were stunned to see the Kenyan government not say anything or voice any concerns about the actions of its own MP.

The abducted people included former rebel political leadership spokesman James Gatdet Dak, former chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition’s (SPLM-IO) humanitarian affairs committee Aggrey Idri, and human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak, among others.

James Gatdet is currently being incarcerated in Juba while Aggrey and Dong are nowhere to be found.

The level of foreign greed in South Sudan is unprecedented. Most South Sudanese are probably not aware of the fact that Kiir’s government spent at least $2.1 million on United States lobbying and public relations firms from early 2014 through the end of 2015, according to U.S. federal records.

The money was meant to influence the administration of former American President Barack Obama through U.S. Congress members and other powerful individuals in American politics.

Kiir’s main goals were to promote his government’s image, improve diplomatic relations with the United States, ensure former President Obama gave financial support to his leadership, and prevent the U.S. from imposing tough sanctions against his regime.

The firms that benefited from these seemingly immoral dealings included R&R Partners, Podesta group, KRL International LLC, and former Republican Representative J. C. Watts.

Under U.S. laws, the actions of these lobbying firms were legal; however, there were serious moral and ethical questions that deserved answers from the representatives of these companies.

Is it rational to promote the image of a leader who killed his own people out of his own political madness?

Do these firms know that they were promoting the image of a ruthless tyrant who massacred the mothers and fathers of tens of thousands of children from December 2013 to 2015?

Where is the morality behind these public relations firms’ decisions to ignore the wishes of suffering South Sudanese over money?

Did the U.S. lose its global moral obligation under Obama?

Why was the United States, under Obama’s leadership, using threatening language towards South Sudanese rival leaders without taking any action?

Was the Obama’s administration influenced by liberal lobbying firms as alleged by most South Sudanese?

Why was the U.S. only actively vocal about South Sudanese suffering three weeks after Obama’s presidency ended?

The United States foreign policy on South Sudan under former President Obama was seriously faulty — in fact, his foreign policy was seriously flawed.

For instance, Obama continued to give financial assistance to Kiir’s regime even when South Sudan’s government was determined by the United States, humanitarian organizations, and the UN to be using child soldiers in its fight against the armed opposition.

Obama’s refusal to deny Juba American security assistance caused widespread allegations among South Sudanese communities that some U.S. liberal corporations were doing business with Kiir’s regime, and that Obama was advised by the representatives of such agencies not to punish South Sudan, regardless of the appalling crimes Kiir committed.

If the alleged accusation is true, then it will go down as one of the greatest moral blunders the U.S. ever committed in South Sudan. The Republic of South Sudan is a country today because of U.S. foreign policy.

There is no question in my mind that South Sudan would still be part of Sudan today if it was not for the U.S.’s influence.

There are some muddled ethnic nationalists who shamelessly deny this indisputable fact. It is clear, however, that these people are making fools of themselves.

Former President Obama was too cautious in his effort to resolve South Sudan’s conflict. His overall strategy for the young nation was, in large part, a failure.

Most South Sudanese were stunned when Obama declared the following on December 16, 2016: “I feel responsible for murder and slaughter that’s taken place in South Sudan that’s not being reported on, partly because there’s not as much social media being generated from there.”

One week later, on December 23, 2016, the United Nations Security Council rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution, delivering a diplomatic blow to Obama’s administration.

Obama’s comment was not well-suited given the fact that he failed to use his powers as U.S. President for nearly three years to impose punitive measures on South Sudan or deny Juba’s regime from receiving U.S. financial aid.

There is a widely established belief in South Sudan that Kiir’s persistent refusal to accept peace is because of Ugandan, Kenyan and Egyptian influence.

It is worth noting that Museveni deceived the United States a few days after the civil war broke out in December 2013, stating that he was sending his soldiers to rescue Ugandans who were trapped in South Sudan.

Museveni also told the Obama administration that he was going to protect South Sudan’s vital institutions in case the young nation crumbled.

The Ugandan leader even asked the U.S. to finance what was initially presumed to be a rescue mission, but Obama refused to offer any financial assistance after reports emerged that Ugandan military intervention in South Sudan was purely a secret Kampala agenda to fight alongside Juba-backed troops against South Sudanese rebels.

Museveni was a co-founder of the ongoing civil war. He was the one who told Kiir that killing other South Sudanese tribes who are a threat to his leadership was a good thing to do.

Perhaps Museveni was emboldened by the fact that he once committed serious crimes against Acholi people in Northern Uganda while Western leaders turned a blind eye to his atrocities.

It is good to remind people that after seizing power in 1986, the Ugandan leader starved, abused and killed Acholi people on the pretext of hunting down individuals who did not support his government.

This was exactly what Kiir did in December 2013 when he waged a door-to-door killing spree against the Nuer in Juba, claiming that Nuer civilians in Juba were rebel supporters.

Kiir also thought that his massacre of the Nuer civilians would put fear in any South Sudanese who questioned his ruthlessness.

The people of South Sudan are tired of war and do not want to see Uganda, Kenya, and Egypt keep meddling with their internal affairs.

These countries have caused enough suffering and their destructive policies will never be forgotten by the suffering South Sudanese.

The international community must confront these greedy nations if they want this young nation to have peace.

The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi must be told that his cunning strategy to harm the Ethiopian Nile Dam project by using Uganda and South Sudan as a launching pad has nothing to do with the millions of South Sudanese who are living under dire conditions in refugee camps.

The Ugandan President must also be told that his economic greed in South Sudan does not help in the peace process and that his January 2014 poisoning of South Sudanese rebels through cluster bombs and other documented war crimes he committed will not go unpunished.

The Egyptian greed for the Nile waters and Ugandan greed for South Sudan’s resources must come to an end.

The citizens of Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Eritrea, Morocco, Ukraine, and Bulgaria should condemn their leaders for investing in Kiir’s atrocious regime.

The people of South Sudan already have a cruel tyrant, Salva Kiir, as their leader, and they should not additionally be subjected to regional and economic tyranny.

The author can be reached at duop282@gmail.com.