Monthly Archives: October 2013

South Sudan: Abyei Region Votes To Leave Islamist North, Join Christian South

By Dr. Richard Williams

Juba, South Sudan — October 29, 2013 (SSN) … The official results will be announced on October 31, but the observers claim that about 65,000 eligible voters, residents in the remote and disputed Abyei region on border between Sudan and South Sudan, voted almost unanimously on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in a non-binding referendum in favor of secession from Sudan and joining South Sudan.

The vote came despite fears it could trigger violence.

The ownership of Abyei was left undecided when the predominantly Christian South Sudan declared independence from the predominantly Muslim Sudan in 2011 after decades of a bloody independence war, and an official referendum on the  status of the disputed Abyei has been stalled by arguments over who can vote, prompting the local referendum initiative.

The chairman of the referendum commission told Reuters that he expected a unanimous vote in favor of joining South Sudan – a decision sure to antagonize heavily armed, pro-Sudan Misseriya nomads who do not reside in the region but customarily drive their livestock through the region.

The Arab nomads are backed by the Islamist government of Khartoum led by President Omar al-Bashir indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, in particular the genocide in Darfur.

“Our impression is the turnout is high. On Sunday, the first polling day, the main station recorded that 75 per cent had already cast their vote,” the commission chairman, Monyluak Kuol, told Reuters.

The result, expected on October 31, is not legally binding and both Sudan and South Sudan have said they will not recognize it, but the vote is important for the majority in Abyei who identify ethnically, culturally and religiously with the South.

Dinka Ngok people from South Sudan and even from as far away as Australia have returned to take part in the vote.

The United Nations has a 4,000-strong, mainly Ethiopian peacekeeping force deployed to monitor tensions between the nomads and residents in the region, which has substantial oil reserves and has seen several clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese troops.

In Abyei town, many buildings are still without roofs and many families live in a makeshift tent city, a legacy of the past fighting.

Abyei’s senior Roman Catholic priest Father Carlos Kaw said the local people had been traumatized by repeated attacks by Sudanese-backed militias and felt the world had forgotten them. “Abyei is fed up with waiting,” he told Reuters.

 

South Sudan: China Challenges US In Africa

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 16, 2013 … The leading South Sudanese think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of Chinese grand diplomatic strategy in Africa.

The Fashoda Institute asserts that the key component of the Chinese long-term grand design has long been to “converge all the flow of oil, gas and minerals to a single export point on the shores of the Indian Ocean – that is, in the direction of China. This vision is getting closer to realization given the progress made toward beginning construction of the maritime complex in Lamu on the northern Kenyan shores of the Indian Ocean.

Although Nairobi keeps insisting that there will be international tenders for each and every phase of the Lamu project – the overall design follows Beijing’s proposal and Nairobi acknowledges that no international consortium has so far been able to remotely compete with the financial guarantees offered by official Beijing in support for proposals presented by Chinese entrants. This is because Beijing considers the Lamu mega-port and transportation complex to be the key to the PRC’s long term domination over Africa”.

The South Sudan think-tank reports that the “initial costs of the first phase of the Lamu project are estimated at $25.5bn. The name of this first phase – the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) – points to the initial objectives. Significantly, the term used is “Southern Sudan” and not the state of South Sudan. When completed, the first phase of the Lamu complex will include a 32-berth port, three international airports, and a 1,500km railway line. As well, the Chinese plan oil pipelines from Juba in South Sudan, and from Addis Ababa via Moyale, Kenya, to converge into Kenya’s Eastern Province and end in a new huge oil refinery in Bargoni, near Lamu.

The entire construction and pipelines will be supported by a 1,730km road network. In the longer term, the trans-African pipelines the Chinese plan on building from both Nigeria in the west and southwestern Africa (most likely Angola) will also feed into the Lamu complex – thus giving the PRC effective control over the main hydro-carbon exports of Africa”.

“The strategic cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum constitute the key to the Chinese confidence that their Sudanese allies be able to contain their Somali Jihadist proxies so that the risk of terrorist attacks is minimal”, points out the Fashoda’s article.

“Beijing is cognizant that in the long term the Lamu project will constitute a devastating economic setback for their proxy Sudan. Sudan will lose most of the oil income currently derived from transit fees for transporting South Sudanese oil”, says the report. “Moreover, Khartoum considers its control over the oil export venues its primary leverage over Juba on any political issue – including Abyei, the border demarcation, and the popular uprisings throughout Sudan. Hence it will be very difficult for Khartoum to see the oil leverage being taken away – particularly by their Chinese allies. Beijing is already trying to mollify Khartoum. For example, using the term Southern Sudan – as the region that is now the Republic of South Sudan was known when under the yoke of Khartoum – is a way for Beijing to allude to Khartoum’s hope they will get Beijing’s support for the reunification of Sudan”.

Meanwhile, given the ongoing tension between South Sudan and Sudan, the Chinese anticipate that South Sudan will be eager to export its oil through Lamu, Kenya – thus avoiding the port and oil refineries of Port Sudan. In the meantime, China is making efforts to increase South Sudan’s dependence on export via the Sudanese pipeline to Port Sudan.

“Beijing’s objective is to convince Juba not to look for alternate venues of oil exports – such as via Cameroon – until the Lamu pipeline is completed”, opines the article on the Fashoda Institute’s web-site. “Toward this end, Beijing is eager to mediate between Juba and Khartoum and assist in reducing tensions and resolving misunderstandings. In practical terms, Beijing works hard in order to ensnare both Khartoum and Juba in a web of Chinese-brokered agreements that will outlive the opening of the Lamu complex and the ensuing demise of Port Sudan. “China stands ready to help improve the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan,” Luo Xiaoguang, the Chinese Ambassador to Khartoum announced on October 1st. “China appreciates the two parties’ adherence to the option of peace and urges them to find solutions to the outstanding issues between them through dialogue. … We reiterate China’s readiness to play a vital role in enhancing the relations between the two countries.”

“Simply put, Beijing is ready to do anything just to ensure the flow of oil eastwards rather than westwards”, summarizes Fashoda.

Analyzing the situation in Suda, The Fashoda Institute writes that “nevertheless, the PRC might lose control and influence over Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir (or his successor). Khartoum is already cracking as a result of unstoppable economic collapse and building social unrest. The iron fist used by the security forces has so far failed to quell the spreading unrest and grassroots violence. To survive in the next few years, Khartoum might feel compelled to adopt drastic measures – including going to a populist war against South Sudan. To build the case for such a war, Sudan is already setting the stage for a “war of attrition” in the border area that is below a major war but will nevertheless tax the fragile economy of South Sudan and arrest development and reforms. Khartoum is using the dispute over the referendum in Abyei, as well as the escalating popular revolts in Sudan’s own Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan regions, in order to build political and military pressure on South Sudan. Khartoum will then be able to capitalize on the “war of attrition” along the disputed borderline as an excuse for an escalation to a major war.”

Turning back to South Sudan, the Juba-based think-tank writes that “the growing hostility and uncertainty along South Sudan’s northern border only increases the incentive for Juba to seek alternatives to exporting its oil via Sudan. Juba is cognizant of both the economic lure of the Chinese projects and the political-strategic ramifications of a Chinese-dominated oil export. President Salva Kiir is cognizant of the growing regional complexities. The emerging trends guide his policy of looking in both directions – west and east – and not ensnaring South Sudan in anybody’s political and economic stifling embrace. Kiir’s Juba is convinced that the region’s states, and not outside powers, should be the dominant forces leading and driving the regional development. The expertise, technologies and investments of foreign friends and partners are sought after in the context of regionally-dominated undertakings. Juba has already embarked on seeking practical solution by convening a two-day investment conference scheduled for early December.

One of main issues on the agenda of the Government of South Sudan and the development partners is furthering the regional economic integration and growth of South Sudan. Juba’s quest for regional undertakings will be one of the main messages to be conveyed by the December conference.”

Analyzing the dynamics in Eastern Africa, the Fashoda’s analysis suggests that “Juba has already found a most interested party in President Djotodia’s Bangui. Bangui is cognizant that only major economic build-up and development projects will serve as the engine for the education and employment of the country’s populace – thus taking them away from the current fratricidal violence. As well, successful development projects will guarantee long-term income for the government. Hence, such undertakings, rather than humanitarian aid from Western states, are the key to the long-term development and well-being of the Central African Republic “.

“However, this policy is also a major obstacle to China’s grand designs”, notes the analytical article. “Back in mid-2013, Beijing had high hopes that Khartoum would deliver the Djotodia administration in Bangui so as to paralyze and stall the westward option of South Sudan. But this is not working as President Djotodia is reaching out to the West seeking partnerships for major development projects, including regional initiatives. Hence, Beijing started to increase pressure on Bangui – first via the UNSC. In the name of alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe in the CAR, the PRC actively supports the French-US initiative that urges the UN to impose solution in the CAR that might include regime change. Meanwhile, the official Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing) also warned of the serious security and humanitarian situation on the ground in the CAR and stressed the need for urgent international intervention independent of the policies and positions of official Bangui. Beijing expressed interest in joining and contributing to such an initiative”.

Turning to US – China relations, the Fashoda Institute points out that “ultimately, the significance of the Chinese long-term grand design for Africa can be best comprehended in the context of historic transformation in the grand strategy and polity of the PRC. Beijing has been arguing since the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline of the United States was also inevitable and that China was destine to rise as the global Hegemon. Presently, Beijing is convinced that the time is ripe for delivering the coup-de-grace”.

On October 13, the official Xinhua News Agency published an official commentary stating that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

The commentary surveyed the abuse the entire world has suffered under US hegemony since the Second World War. The situation has only aggravated since the end of the Cold War, Xinhua argued. “Instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” To further its own unbridled ambitions, the US stoked “regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies,” Xinhua explained. The Xinhua commentary warned that with US society and economy collapsing, Washington is now tempted to intensify the abuse of the rest of the world in order to save the US. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.” Xinhua concluded by suggesting that the PRC, being inherently a developing country, is the rising power best suited to lead this global transformation and de-Americanization.

“Beijing has long recognized that any confrontation with the US will inevitably lead to major economic crises, a series of conflicts world-wide and possibly a global war against the US”, says the Fashoda Institute in conclusion.

“To sustain this global conflict, the PRC would need huge quantities of hydro-carbons, rare metals, other natural resources and even agricultural products – and these can only be secured from a China-dominated Africa”.

Sudan Sabotages Polio Campaign For Children Of South Sudan

polio_sudan

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 15, 2013 (SSN) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) to urgently reach an agreement over technical details paving the way for the implementation of a polio vaccination campaign in the two areas in November.

An African Union-backed mediation team also failed to break the deadlock between the two parties, with Sudan saying it only wants to negotiate a solution for the conflict in the two areas, while the SPLM-N demands a comprehensive process.

In a press statement released on Friday, the UNSC said it is alarmed by the imminent threat of a polio in South Kordofan, following an outbreak across the in the Horn of Africa region.

Sudan has been declared polio free, but there have been recent reports of a looming polio outbreak after the detection of several cases in Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.

UN health experts believe that failure to immunise children under five years of age in conflict-affected areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will exacerbate the risk of polio spreading throughout the region.

In the statement, the UNSC called on the two parties “to urgently resolve differences over the technical plans necessary, including for safe passage, to implement the polio vaccination campaign as proposed by UN OCHA, UNICEF and WHO as soon as possible in order for the two-week vaccination campaign to go forward in South Kordofan and Blue Nile on 5 November as planned”.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that more than 165,000 children in South Kordofan and Blue Nile remain at risk of polio due to a lack of immunisation in the border areas over the past two years.

Last week, Sudan and members of the tripartite initiative, including the African Union, Arab League and United Nations agreed to carry out the vaccination campaign on 5 November.

Khartoum has also said the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) would be ready to observe a cessation of hostilities for the period of the campaign.

The SPLM-N rebels informed the UN there remains a need to discuss arrangements of the cessation of hostilities with the SAF, which has so far refused to participate in direct talks.

The SPLM-N, which abandoned its demand to bring the vaccine directly from Ethiopia or Kenya, has rejected the involvement of the government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in the operation, instead suggesting the participation of forces from the UN mission in Abyei (UNISFA) and its own humanitarian organisation.

Negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N since last April have so far failed to seal an agreement over the polio vaccination campaign.

The situation is further complicated by the failure of the two parties to strike a deal allowing humanitarian access to rebel-held areas. Khartoum insists that it remain in control of the distribution of humanitarian assistance, accusing the rebel group of seeking to benefit from aid to feed its fighters.

An African Union-backed mediation team also failed to break the deadlock between the two parties, with Khartoum saying it only wants to negotiate a solution for the conflict in the Two Areas, while the SPLM-N demands a comprehensive process.

 

South Sudan Plans Major Diplomatic Reforms Planned by FM Benjamin

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — October 14, 2013 (SSN) … South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin has announced that a major diplomatic reform is underway in the South Sudan Foreign Ministry.

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South Sudan Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, (Getty)


The move comes after national legislative assembly lawmakers from the south-governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) expressed concerns over the manner in which its embassies handle the country’s foreign affairs matters.

“There remains a lot of work to be done and it is imperative that the ministry devise policies reflective of the law and priorities of the government”, said Assembly Speaker Magok Rundial.

The South Sudan Foreign Affairs ministry, he said, should embark on sustained efforts aimed at creating awareness globally on the country’s independence status.

“There are countries which still do not know that South Sudan is an independent state. Such a challenge requires skilled and effective diplomats,” stressed Rundial.

The young nation, in 2011, enacted the Diplomatic and Consular Service Act; a law intended to simplify decision making processes and give it more access to international affairs.

The law, which became operational in January last year, allows the country to establish embassies in key countries and permanent missions at the regional and international organisations, including having temporary consular missions.

It also provides for the establishment of missions, to be run by ambassadors, minister plenipotentiaries, counselors and categorised sizable secretaries.

To the credit of the South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir Mayrdit, and its Foreign Minister, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, this young democracy currently has 22 embassies in various countries, including efficiently-working embassies in Washington, D.C. and in London.

South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Benjamin stresses that in spite of the shortage of trained diplomats, his Ministry is determined to strengthen the international standing of their country.

Last month Dr. Benjamin  formed a technical committee to study how it could improve relations with other countries by deploying competent workforce in line with the policy of lean, but effective cadres.

According to the recent committee’s recommendations, the number of diplomats deployed at the 22 embassies needed to be reduced to reflect the government policy of lean, but effective diplomatic cadres.

The committee, the foreign affairs spokesperson said, is also conducting background checks of individual diplomats, examining specifically their areas of specialty, experiences, capabilities and level of understanding of diplomatic and international affairs,

As in many democracies, including the United States, the ambassadors are often chosen not amongst the carrier diplomats but amongst prominent figures who are rewarded by the ambassadorial post for their service to the country in other, often not related to foreign affairs, fields. South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry also has a number senior diplomats who were appointed not on the basis of their merits, but as a reward for having played active role in the independence war, but had no prior training in diplomacy and foreign relations.

“They certainly did good work by helping bring to the spotlight what our people were undergoing, but not all activists are good diplomats”, the foreign affairs spokesperson said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin is determined to limit this practice and vigorously professionalize the diplomatic cadres of South Sudan.

South Sudan Organizes Investment Conference in December

By Joe Odaby

Juba — October 4, 2013 …The Government of South Sudan in collaboration with development partners is organizing a two-day investment conference scheduled for December 4-5 this year.

The conference seeks to promote South Sudan as a viable investment and business destination in the region by bring together senior government officials, key agencies and industry leaders to aid essential development and investment initiatives, The Deputy Minister for Finance Mary Jervas Yak said on Thursday while briefing the press in Juba.
To be officially opened by the President of the Republic, HE Salva Kiir Mayardit, the conference is expected to address regional and international potential investors, local investors, representatives of multinational corporations, Bankers, representatives of non governmental organization, donor organizations government officials among others.
This investment conference in South Sudan will provide a platform for investors to explore business or investment opportunities particularly on the five high impact sectors namely Agriculture, Infrastructure, Tourism and Hospitality, Petroleum and Mining” Hon. Yak said.
There is already a steering committee composed of government officials, private sector and development partners chaired by the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning as well as a committee of the same membership chaired by the South Sudan Investment Authority to spearhead the preparations.
The abundant natural resources, current business opportunities, the conducive investment climate in the country, Business climate transformation, stories of successful investments and South Sudan’s participation in the regional economic integration and growth will be the main messages to convey in the December conference.
Concurrent with the conference, the finance deputy minister said, there will an exhibition to showcase successful investment projects in the country. Both local and international investors  take part in the exhibition. There will also be vibrant social and cultural programs to help promote South Sudanese rich culture, said Hon. Yak.
This conference is part of a larger RSS and development partners initiative stemming from the April 16, 2013 Washington DC South Sudan investment Forum.