South Sudan President Dissolves Parliament

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit attends the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on February 10, 2020. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit attends the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, on February 10, 2020. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP


South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has dissolved parliament, opening the way for lawmakers from opposing sides of the country’s civil war to be appointed under a 2018 peace accord.

Kiir’s decision was announced on public television Saturday evening but no date was given as to when the new parliament will begin working.

The setting up of a new legislative body was part of an accord signed in September 2018 between Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, for years on opposition sides during the five-year civil war that left 380,000 people dead and four million displaced.

Activists and civil society groups welcomed the dissolution of parliament, saying it was long overdue but also expressing distrust.

“It is a welcome development and we hope that the dissolution (will not) also open the way to a lengthy process towards reconstituting the parliament,” Jame David Kolock, chairman of the South Sudan Civil Society Forum.

“The civil society is getting frustrated and no longer believes that even if the parliament is reconstituted it will be a very viable parliament.”

In accordance with the 2018 accord, the new assembly will number 550 lawmakers, the majority — 332 — from Kiir’s governing SPLM party. The parliamentarians will not be elected but nominated by the different parties.

The dissolution of parliament came on the eve of a visit to the capital Juba by US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth.

“Of particular concern to the United States is the slow implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, ongoing violence, and deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions,” the US State Department said in a statement.

Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government on February 22, 2020 after nearly a year of delays.

However few provisions of the truce have been honoured, and analysts have warned of a return to war.

The oil-rich country remains severely underdeveloped and poorly managed.

Despite the peace deal, brutal communal conflicts — often over cattle raiding — continue, with more than 1,000 killed in violence between rival communities in the last six months of 2020.


Britain To Deploy About 100 Troops To South Sudan- Minister

BritainUp to 100 additional British troops will join U.N. peacekeeping work in South Sudan, the defense minister said on Thursday, taking the total to around 400.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the deployment, which supplements the 300 British personnel already in the region, could help reduce the number of migrants fleeing poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East from traveling to western Europe.

“This large scale deployment underlines how we are stepping up our global commitments,” Fallon told a conference of defense ministers.

“Backed by a rising defense budget, it’s part of our effort to tackle the instability that leads to mass migration and terrorism. It will help keep Britain safe while improving lives abroad.”

Last month, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of 4,000-strong protection force in South Sudan’s capital Juba after several days of fighting involving tanks and helicopters between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar.

Clashes Flare In Southwest Of South Sudan’s Capital

south sudanFighting flared late on Saturday in southwest of the capital of South Sudan between forces loyal to the President and those backing the opposition.

This is coming after clashes last month raised fears of a slide back into civil war.

Steven Lodu Onseimo, the Information Minister for Yei region where Saturday’s clashes took place, told Reuters that two civilians and a soldier were killed, but said the area was calm on Sunday.

Witnesses had reported heavy gunfire around Yei, which lies on a road linking the capital Juba with neighboring Uganda. The government and opposition each blamed the other side.

Following the fighting in July, the U.N. Security Council authorised the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to support the existing 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission.

“Our forces have managed to close Juba-Yei road. Our forces destroyed the government’s convoy that attacked our forces in the area,” opposition spokesman James Gatdet said by telephone.

The Yei Information Minister described the attack as an “ambush” of a government convoy by the opposition.

Political differences between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar first erupted into conflict in late 2013. They signed a peace deal in August 2015, but sporadic fighting has continued.

Machar had recently returned to Juba to take up his position as deputy again when the July clashes flared. Machar then withdrew with his forces from the capital.

Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said after Friday’s vote for extra U.N. troops that the government would not accept the new force, describing it as a U.N. bid to take over South Sudan.

The United Nations had threatened an arms embargo if the government did not cooperate.

Regional states have backed sending extra troops to South Sudan in a bid to quell the conflict and prevent any further spillover.

More than two million South Sudanese have been displaced by more than two years of conflict since the nation got its independent from Sudan and many have fled to nearby states.


South Sudan Fails To Form Transitional Government

South SudanSouth Sudan has failed to form a transitional government, despite a deadline agreed in a peace deal in August 2015, to end the civil war that began in 2013.

Although President Salva Kiir, has reservations about the deal, he appointed 28 new governors for additional provinces, from the original 10, just as rebel delegates arrived in the capital, Juba, to begin work on the new government.

South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir and his rival, former Vice President, Riek Machar, signed an accord in August to end fighting.

The deal stated that a transitional government would be created for a period of 30 months followed by an election.

Festus Mogae, the chair of the monitoring commission, said Kiir’s government would nominate 16 ministers, including the ministers for finance, defense and justice.

Machar’s SPLM/A would nominate 10 ministers to portfolios such as petroleum and interior which were reserved for his side.

The United Nations recently released a report, accusing both President Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar’s rebels of mutual killings, including hundreds of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, gang rapes, sexual slavery, forced abortion and massive child soldier recruitment.

Thousands of people have been killed in violence that resulted from President Kiir accusing Riek Machar of plotting a coup in 2013.

Millions more have been displaced.

South Sudanese Parties Agree To Share Cabinet Slots

South SudanSouth Sudan’s warring parties agreed on Thursday to share ministerial positions in a transitional government of national unity, the chair of the body monitoring a peace deal said.

President Salva Kiir and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar, signed an accord last August to end fighting that killed thousands of people and drove more than 2 million people from their homes.

The deal stated that a transitional government would be created for a period of 30 months followed by an election.

Festus Mogae, the chair of the monitoring commission, said Kiir’s government would nominate 16 ministers, including the ministers for finance, defense and justice.

Machar’s SPLM/A will nominate 10 ministers to portfolios such as petroleum and interior which were reserved for his side.

Smaller parties will get four slots including the foreign affairs brief and the Cabinet Affairs Ministry, Mogae said in a statement.

He did not say when the appointments will be completed.

South Sudan Says It Will Suspend Attacks On Rebels For A Month

South Sudanese President Kiir speaks during a news conference with his Sudanese counterpart al-Bashir at Khartoum Airport
South Sudanese President Kiir says he is committed to talks on a transitional government.

South Sudan’s government said on Wednesday it had ordered a one-month suspension of attacks on rebel forces as international pressure mounts for an end to an ethnic conflict that has raised fears of genocide.

South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said the government’s commitment to honour a “month of tranquillity”, proposed on Monday at peace talks in Ethiopia, meant the army could still fight back if attacked.

There was no immediate word from the rebels.

“We have already given our forces an order,” Lueth told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where months of peace talks have made little progress.

A ceasefire deal struck in January swiftly fell apart, with each side blaming the other for fighting that has exacerbated deep-rooted tensions between President Salva Kiir’s Dinka people and the Nuer tribe of his sacked deputy president, Riek Machar. The conflict has largely followed ethnic fault lines.

Kiir and Machar are due to hold face-to-face talks in Addis Ababa on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said in Juba last week that Kiir had committed himself to talks on a transitional government, and has threatened Machar with sanctions if he does not meet Kiir.

South Sudanese Foreign Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told Reuters on Wednesday that the plan envisaged a “transitional process” that would last until the next election in 2015.

“President Kiir will stay in power until the elections take place,” he said.

Machar has called for Kiir to resign, saying he lost the people’s trust after fighting broke out in the presidential guard in December and quickly spread across the country, which is about the size of Texas.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

South Sudan Deploys Army To Guard U.N. Base After Attack Kills Dozens

south sudanSouth Sudan sent troops to secure a United Nations base after armed civilians fired on displaced tribes people sheltering there, in an attack that killed at least 48, the President’s spokesman said on Friday.

Locals pretending to be peaceful protesters delivering a petition forced their way into the camp on Thursday and opened fire before being beaten back by UN security personnel (UNMISS).

“The Army has come in now. They have been ordered to protect UNMISS so there will be no attack from anybody,” President Salva Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Reuters by phone.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than one million displaced since fighting erupted in South Sudan in the middle of December, triggered by a power struggle between Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

The conflict in Africa’s newest state took on a tribal dimension as Kiir’s Dinka fought Machar’s Nuer for control of strategic towns before a ceasefire was signed on January 23.

Sporadic clashes between both sides after the ceasefire deal erupted into full-blown combat this week, when the rebels seized control of Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State.

Thursday’s attack on the U.N. base at Bor, some 120 miles north of the capital of Juba, was blamed on locals who were seeking to punish the Nuer for the loss of Bentiu.

“Those internally displaced people in Bor from the Nuer community were celebrating the capture of Bentiu by the rebels and this angered the local community,” Ateny said.

The Dinkas are the predominant group in the area.

The locals went to the base to demand the relocation of the 5,000 Nuer living there and were dispersed by UN personnel before regrouping nearby and launching the attack, he said.

The Acting Spokesman for UNMISS, Joe Contreras, said that security had been stepped up in their bases around the country – where tens of thousands are sheltering – and urged South Sudan to investigate the attack and prosecute the assailants.

No one has been arrested over the attack, pending completion of investigations, Information Minister, Michael Makuei, told Reuters.

The conflict has disrupted oil production, which provides most government revenue. The rebels warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week after they recaptured Bentiu on Tuesday.

South Sudan Agrees Truce After Meeting In Nairobi

East African leaders who are meeting in Nairobi have said that the government of South Sudan has agreed to an immediate end to fighting with rebels.

Welcoming the commitment from President Salva ‘s government, they urged rebel leader Riek Machar to do likewise, as fighting continued.

Mr Machar however told BBC News that conditions for a truce were not yet in place.  Although, he confirmed that two of his allies had been freed from custody, he called for the other nine to be released too.

The release of the 11 politicians, accused of plotting a coup, has been a key rebel condition for any negotiations.

Recent fighting left at least 1,000 people dead, with fierce new battles reported in the town of Malakal, in oil-rich Upper Nile State.

More than 121,600 people have fled their homes in the world’s newest state, with about 63,000 seeking refuge at UN compounds across the country, according to a statement by the United Nations.

There has been no confirmation from President Kiir’s office that he has agreed to end the hostilities in his power struggle with Mr Machar, his former vice-president, where members of Mr Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and Mr Machar’s Nuer community have both been targeted in the violence.

East African regional leaders, who make up an eight-member bloc known as IGAD, held talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi a day after the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia met Mr Kiir in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

They said they would not accept a violent overthrow of the government in South Sudan and called on the government and rebels to meet for talks within four days.

President Kiir did not attend the talks in Nairobi nor did any representative of Mr Machar.

After meeting Mr Kiir on Friday morning, US envoy Donald Booth said: “He confirmed he is moving forward to arrange a cessation of hostilities throughout the country.”

The US diplomat was also quoted by Reuters News Agency as saying Mr Kiir had agreed to release eight out of 11 politicians detained over the alleged coup plot.

“We were very encouraged to hear the president reiterate that with the exception of three… officials who have been detained… the others will be released very shortly,” Mr Booth said, according to Reuters.

Speaking to BBC World Service by satellite phone “from the bush”, Mr Machar said he was ready for talks but any ceasefire had to be negotiated by delegations from the two sides, with a mechanism agreed to monitor it.

Saying that he had the allegiance of all rebel forces in South Sudan, he called for the release of all 11 detainees.

Violence has continued through the week with conflicting reports on Friday about the situation in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State, where some 12,000 people have been sheltering at a UN base.

South Sudan Crisis: UN Says There’s Fear In Town Of Bor

A UN official in South Sudan has spoken of an atmosphere of fear and desperation as violence continues in South Sudan.

Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Toby Lanzer, spoke about summary executions in Bor, in the restive state of Jonglei that has fallen to rebels.

He told the BBC he had witnessed “some of the most horrible things that one can imagine”.

“People were being lined up and executed in a summary fashion. This is done by people who are simply out of control,” Mr Lanzer said.

The UN mission in South Sudan has urged rival political leaders to agree a truce and open negotiations.

Meanwhile, the US said it had evacuated its citizens from Bor. Although its evacuation operation was initially aborted due to shots fired at its military aircraft, the US re-entered the region using civilian US and UN helicopters.

Clashes broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy, Riek Machar on Sunday night after President Kiir claimed to have quashed a coup attempt on his government by soldiers loyal to his former deputy.

Sudan suffered a 22-year civil war that left more than one million people dead before the South became independent in 2011.

South Sudan: Civilians Seek Refuge In UN Compound In Juba

Hundreds of civilians sought shelter in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s compound adjacent to the Juba International Airport on Thursday (December 19) following fighting that broke out in the city on Sunday.

South Sudanese Government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of a conflict that has deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation.

The conflict, which has so far killed up to 500 people, has alarmed South Sudan’s neighbours. African mediators held talks with President Salva Kiir on Thursday to try to broker peace.

The fighting that erupted around the capital Juba on Sunday night has quickly spread, pitting loyalists of the former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, against Kiir, a member of the dominant Dinka clan.

Fighting erupted on Sunday night between soldiers in the presidential guard, following a coup attempt on President Salva Kiir’s government by soldiers loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar.

However, Machar, whose dismissal in July led to months of tensions, has denied Kiir’s accusation that he had led a coup attempt.

The fighting, which broke out overnight and intensified in the early morning with reports of continuous gunfire and several explosions, has led to a night time curfew.

Mr Kiir said the government was in full control of the capital, Juba, after a night of heavy fighting.

South Sudan President Suspends Two Ministers In Fraud Inquiry

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has suspended two key ministers in a fraud investigation, the government said on Wednesday.

Western donors have warned South Sudan’s government that aid payments are at risk unless it tackles the corruption undermining development in a country devastated from decades of civil war with Sudan, from which it seceded in 2011.

Last year, Kiir wrote to 75 current and former officials to ask them to return $4 billion in “stolen” public money, but no senior figure had been publicly put under investigation until now.

Kiir has now lifted the immunity of Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol and Finance Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai and suspended them pending an investigation into the procurement of fireproof safes for Alor’s ministry for $8 million, according to a government decree released on Wednesday.

It said the payment had been approved by the Finance Ministry, and that a high-level committee would determine whether there was “an element of fraud and forgery exercised in this process of transfer and payments”.

South Sudan has been struggling to set up functioning state institutions since gaining independence from Khartoum in 2011 under a peace deal that ended the civil war.

The government is largely made up of former rebel commanders who dislike scrutiny and have little experience of economic management. Financial oversight is weak.

Samuel Dhong, secretary-general of the South Sudan Law Society, which promotes the rule of law, welcomed the suspensions but said it remained to be seen whether the men would be charged.

“We have experienced this kind of action, but the problem is that they don’t reach a logical conclusion at the end of the day,” he said.

He pointed to an investigation led by the same committee chairman into the theft of 176,000 South Sudanese pounds (around $45,000) from Kiir’s office in March. It concluded that office staff assisted in the theft but did not name anyone.

Decades of conflict and economic neglect have left South Sudan with some of the worst health and education statistics on the planet. Few paved roads exist outside the capital Juba.