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South Sudan: Riek Machar’s Coup Failed, Nation’s Unity Preserved

By Joe Odaby

On the night of 15 December 2013, former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar and his supporters attempted a military coup in Juba. The security forces quickly rallied in support of the acting President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his legitimate government and put down the coup after few brief clashes in the capital. By mid-day Juba was quiet and a shaken government was back operating.

The Fashoda Institute, a leading African think-tank, has published an in-depth analysis of the events leading to a failed coup. It unveils that Machar and his colleagues were relying on Nuer troops from Machar’s tribe against the national authorities and armed forces, while the government’s forces were comprised mainly of soldiers from all backgrounds.

“Hence, the coup was a milestone that cannot be ignored. After a decade-long concentrated effort (in the last phase of the war, during autonomy, and since independence) to bring together the country’s diverse population into an all-inclusive joint national effort to build the state and nation – Machar, a power-hungry leading politician, attempted to reverse the trend and base his lust for power on reawakening separatist demons”, concludes the analysis.

Fashoda Institute points out that during the War of Independence Machar’s predominantly Nuer forces fought on both sides – for and against the SPLA – at times directly fighting SPLA troops under Kiir’s command on behalf of Khartoum. The main reason for the frequent switching of sides has been the Nuer’s struggle for power against what Machar and his allies called “Dinka dominance.” The fight got very bitter.

For example, Machar’s Nuer troops were responsible for the 1991 brutal massacre in the ethnic Dinka town of Bor. After independence, President Kiir nominated Machar as his Vice-President in order to draw the Nuer – the country’s second largest tribe – into the nation building effort. However, Machar has manipulated the national reconciliation effort and any other political initiative possible in order to empower himself, his coterie and the Nuer (in this order) at the expense of the national interest. At the same time, Machar revived his lines of communication with the uppermost leadership in Khartoum in order, in the words of his loyalists in London, to keep “all his options open.” 

In June 2013 the Islamist government of Khartoum cut the oil pipeline delivering South Sudanese oil to the markets. This breach of all contracts and peace agreements was designed by Sudanese President al-Bashir  to strangulate the young, Christian democracy of South Sudan.

Machar, then the Vice President, was dispatched to Khartoum to negotiate the resumption of oil flow. Instead he started his private back door dealings with Khartoum. As his allies and confidants explained, “a renewed oil cutoff could bring South Sudan to its knees, triggering a wider governmental collapse” which Machar “can capitalize on to force [Kiir] out and then rise to power.”

This observation of Machar’s plans by his own allies and confidants shed a sinister and significant light on Machar’s own conduct of the negotiations in Khartoum.

“Little wonder that Machar was fired soon afterwards as part of South Sudan’s President Kiir’s revamping of the entire government. Now in opposition, Machar and his supporters, including Pagan Amum then Secretary-General of the ruling party – the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – launched a series of drives to subvert the party’s institutions from within in order to topple President Kiir and declare Machar the SPLM’s uncontested candidate for presidency for the 2015 elections”, asserts the Fashoda Institute. “No matter how convoluted these efforts were  - they did not work. They did, however, compel President Kiir and his stalwarts to purge some of the SPLM’s elite in order to prevent chaos.”

“Cornered and nearly out of options, Machar reached out to his allies in Khartoum”, continues the analysis. “In early December, Machar sent emissaries to Khartoum in order to ask Hassan Al-Turabi, the Islamist luminary and leader of Sudan,s opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), “to mediate the current political crisis” in South Sudan. Turabi was specifically asked by Machar’s emissaries and in Machar’s name “to intercede” with President Kiir in order to reverse the dismissal of “senior figures from the ruling SPLM and the government,” as well as subdue the “atmosphere of tensions” in Juba by permitting Mchar and his coterie to assume leading positions of power. Machar’s reaching out to Turabi – the main ideologue of Jihad – is not surprising given Machar’s long relations with Khartoum going back to the war of independence”.

Meanwhile, in early December, Juba was going through a political crisis in the SPLM as Amum kept manipulating procedures and planned events in order to empower Machar and his camp on the road to the 2015 elections. On 15 December, President Kiir harshly criticized Secretary-General Amum during a speech at a meeting of the SPLM’s council. The vast majority of the SPLM’s activists and rank and file strongly support the policies of President Kiir and his government.

“This was made clear by the reaction to Amum’s accusations and President Kiir’s response”, concludes the Fashoda Institute. “Hence, having realized that their efforts to subvert the SPLM from within in order to topple President Kiir and the majority support he enjoys came to naught – Machar and his coterie immediately launched the attempted coup in Juba. To the great fortune of the people of South Sudan, the sectarian coup has failed and the nation has preserved its unity”.

President Kiir Declares Curfew In Juba As Attempted Coup Fails

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, sits in his office in Juba on December 16, 2013. Kiir declared a curfew in Juba on Monday after overnight clashes between rival factions of soldiers, but said his government has regained full control of the capital.

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — December 16 … The President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit has imposed a curfew over Juba  following heavy gunfire that started early Saturday, December 15, in the city and its suburbs. The situation though is under control; sporadic gunfire still continues to be heard in some parts of the capital. The curfew, the President says takes immediate effect.

In a press briefing in the early hours of the day, President Kiir called for calm among the citizens while assuring that “the Government is doing all it can to make sure the citizens of South Sudan are secure and safe”.

President Salva Kiir told reporters in the capital city of Juba that his forces were in control following a night of fighting with soldiers from an army faction loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar.

“Justice will prevail and those attackers are being pursued,” President Kiir said. “This was an attempted coup but it failed.”

“An unidentified person near Nyakuron Cultural Center released gunshots in the air and escaped,” he said.

“This was followed by an attack at the SPLA general headquarters near Juba University by a group of soldiers allied to the former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and his group,” Kiir said.

“The attackers fled and your armed forces are pursuing them. I promise you today that justice will prevail,” Kiir said.

South Sudan: Khartoum To Invade Abyei As Referendum Favors Union With Juba

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba, South Sudan — November 14, 2013 (SSN) … The Ngok Dinka people of the Abyei, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan, held their own informal referendum as a desperate cry to the international community to save a people under threat of genocide.

The organizers of the referendum announced on October 31, 2013, that virtually all Ngok Dinka voted to join South Sudan. The Dinka tribe played a key role in South Sudan’s generation-long liberation war: one of the opening clashes in South Sudan’s liberation war was the 1965 massacre of 72 Dinka Ngok by Misseriya tribesmen in the Abyei town of Babanusa.

The semi-nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe boycotted the referendum and promised not to recognize it. The home grounds of the Misseriya tribe are in the deserts of central Sudan and the tribe traditionally move down to the Abyei area, as well as other areas along the Sudan-South Sudan border in quest for grazing for their cattle as well as black slaves for the urban markets in northern Sudan.

Khartoum has announced that it would not recognize the unilateral referendum.

As the Fashoda Institute think-tank points in its analysis, Sudan is determined to hold onto Abyei in order to secure the vast oil reserves underneath: “all the more so as the economic collapse of Sudan is evolving into major popular riots which threaten the very existence of the Khartoum Government”.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir invited President Bashir to Juba on October 22, 2013, for an emergency summit on the future of Abyei. Following the summit, senior Sudanese officials reiterated Khartoum’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Abyei crisis in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA of 2005 as subsequently supplemented by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel.

However, “developments on the ground contradict Khartoum’s assertion of a commitment to a legal and peaceful resolution of the crisis over Abyei”, as the Fashoda’s report has pointed out this week. In early October 2013, the Sudanese Army and Air Force have intensified the build-up of forces in the south of Sudan: mainly Kordofan and Blue Nile States. The Army deployed heavy battalions and regiments equipped with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery. Smaller units — mainly company-level — deployed all the way to the border with South Sudan.

The Air Force deployed to the El-Obeid area strike aircraft — Su-24s and A-5Qs — as well as Mi-24/Mi-35 & Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopters. All the forces and weapons detected are optimized for offensive operations.

Fashoda’s experts agree that “all evidence points to Khartoum’s intent to increase military pressure on Juba in order to force Juba to compromise over Abyei. But a lot of things can go wrong with Sudanese patrols aggressively probing and shooting along the border”.

“All of these activities can be considered harbingers for the possibility of Bashir’s Khartoum electing to provoke a major crisis over Abyei as a way of both avoiding tackling the Abyei crisis while mobilizing Sudan’s own restive population — particularly the Islamists — into supporting and joining a jihad against South Sudan rather than riot against the Bashir Government”, writes the Fashoda Institute.

“Several opposition leaders — including former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Turabi — promised to endorse and support any armed undertakings aimed to not only secure Abyei but also “reunite Sudan” (that is, occupy South Sudan). This is a temptation the besieged Bashir cannot ignore. Hence the growing Sudanese bellicosity along the border. The distance between provocations and an unintended war is very small and perilously vague.”

South Sudan President Kiir Takes Emergency Measures As Floods Continue

Juba, South Sudan — September 17, 2013 (SSN) Most parts of South Sudan are overwhelmed by flood waters as a result of  the heavy rains the country has suffered in the last few weeks. The most hard-hit states are Northern Bahr el Ghazal with a total of 5, 882 households affected, Warrap with 10,000, Unity 8,355 and Upper Nile with 8,000 households affected. Lakes states and parts of Central Equatoria are reportedly also affected.

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, said his government is taking immediate measures to respond to the needs of the affected population and is setting aside 7 million South Sudanese pounds to rescue the situation.

 

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H.E. President Kiir during the briefing.

“Your government is deeply concerned with the suffering imparted upon you by this natural disaster and has taken immediate action towards finding temporary mitigation measures while also looking for long term solutions once we overcome the emergency situation”, the President said on Thursday in his address to the nation.

President Kiir said that “food, security, shelter water purification tablets, medical services, information on floods and evacuation” are the immediate needs of the affected people in South Sudan.

President Kiir has assembled a nine-member taskforce to map, assess and propose immediate intervention plans for helping the affected 37, 238 households.

South Sudan President Kiir said the floods have swept away farms and homes depriving most of the people of the affected areas of their livelihoods. Health facilities, livestock grazing areas and other public utilities have also been rendered useless. The South Sudan President warned that flood-associated factors such as outbreaks of diseases, hunger and general collapse of peoples’ coping mechanisms remain eminent.

 

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Homes and farming land have been flooded in most parts of the country.

Besides thanking the UN and other partners for responding to the emergency, South Sudan President Kiir also called on the business communities – both in South Sudan and abroad – to help the affected regions of South Sudan with whatever they can during these difficult times.

South Sudan: Women’s Groups Support New Government

 

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President Kiir and the Toposa women’s group. On his right is
Gen. Mamur while on the left is
Governor Lojore. Photo: Thomas Keneth

By Joe Odaby

Juba — August 19, 2013 (SSN) … South Sudan President Kiir received in his office a delegation of women’s groups from Toposa Community of Kapoeta South, Kapoeta East and Kapoeta North in Eastern Equatoria State.

The groups, which were accompanied by the Easteren Equatoria State Governor Luis Lobong Lojore and the Minister of National Security Gen. Obutu Mamur Mete congratulated H.E Kiir for reshuffling his government according to the “will of South Sudan people”.
In a press statement, the head of the delegation Ms. Hellen Orasio called on the people of South Sudan to be united behind the President, discard tribal difference and work for peace and development.

Last week the newly appointed ministers and their deputies of South Sudan were sworn in before the President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut after the parliament passed their nominations.

The approval of the nominations of Telar Ring Deng as the Minister for Justice and Josephine Napwon Cosmos as the Deputy Minister for Youth, Culture and Sports was however left pending as the concerned parliamentary committee sought more time to clarify some issues about them.

Integrity and the degree of competence were some of the criteria used by the lawmakers to vet the nominated ministers.

“The new cabinet of South Sudan has just taken the oath of office before the President. We have had congratulations from the President who has also directed the South Sudan Minister for Cabinet Affairs to draw up an action plan and get to get the new cabinet to commence work immediately”, said Michael Makuei Lueth, the new minister for Information and Broadcasting.

On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers.

The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up. Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan President Kiir Assures Parties New Government Will Be Inclusive

By Joe Odaby

Juba — July 28 2013 (SSN) … The President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit held a consultative meeting with the leaders of 17 South Sudanese political parties.

President Kiir briefed the party leaders on the current political situation in South Sudan and notified them that the coming new government will be an inclusive, representative as well as a gender sensitive government.

Leaders of the political parties during the meeting congratulated President Kiir for peacefully managing the political situation in the country and for reducing the South Sudan Cabinet to nineteen ministers. Political party leaders expressed their support for the President and thanked him for consulting them on the formation of the coming new government, which they say illustrates democratic governance.

Shortly after the meeting, the leader of the South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF) Dr. Elia Lumoro told the press on behalf of his colleagues that the meeting came out with a decision that “the parties should send in a list of three nominees” and President Kiir is mandated to select from each list a person who in his opinion is the best candidate for a portfolio in the new Government.

 

South Sudan President Kiir Ends Government Paralysis, Fires Corrupt Cabinet

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By Joe Odaby

Juba — July 24, 2013 … On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers. The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up. Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan is facing numerous emergencies and challenges as a result of the attempt at economic stifling by Sudan. The economic development of South Sudan has been arrested by the Sudanese blocking of oil exports – thus depriving South Sudan of its primary source of revenues.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute. “In recent months, Machar aggravated national crises and problems in order to further his own personal political ambitions – namely, present himself as a presidential candidate and would-be national savior. Thus, in early 2013, Machar abused his role as chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee in order to increase his power by stocking internal rifts and tribal-based tensions.

Under Machar, the integrity of the reconciliation process – so crucial for South Sudan tormented and fragmented population – was being sacrificed on the altar of his personal political ambitions. The Machar camp argued that national leadership should be transferred from the Dinka to the Nuer because, in the words of a Machar key supporter, “it’s our turn to eat”.

On April 15, President Kiir issued a decree which removed some of the executive powers delegated to Vice-President Machar. The Presidential decreed “the withdrawal of all duly delegated powers assigned to the Vice-President” and restricting him to “discharg[ing] only his powers as stipulated” under the draft constitution. Machar remained the Vice-President, member of the cabinet and the national security council – albeit with significantly less power and authority. As well, President Kiir issued a decree dissolving the National Reconciliation Committee that was to be chaired by Machar.

In early July, after Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir once again arbitrarily shut down the oil pipelines, Kiir dispatched Machar to Khartoum to lead the negotiations on the resumption of South Sudan’s vital oil exports via the Sudanese pipeline. Instead of hard bargaining and marshaling international law and agreements to push Khartoum to the corner – Machar was forthcoming, conciliatory and compromising.

He permitted negotiations to slide to uncharted territories and expressed eagerness to compromise at all cost. Significantly, Machar exceeded his mandate and discussed reaching understandings about the long-term relations between the two countries under terms favorable to Khartoum. In a subsequent meeting with a Sudanese opposition leader, Machar hinted at some regret about the break-up of Sudan. “If we did not survive as one country, we should now survive as two neighboring sisterly countries,” Machar said. Little wonder that official Khartoum hailed Machar’s visit and senior Sudanese officials told Arab diplomats they were ready for dialogue with Juba if the government is run by Machar. 

Ultimately, even Machar’s unilateral and unwarranted concessions were not enough because Khartoum exploited what it perceived to be Juba’s weakness and indecision to announce the complete shutdown of oil. Although detrimental to the future of South Sudan, Machar seems to be convinced that such a crisis would serve his own political ascent. Machar’s allies and confidants in London and Juba are convinced that Machar’s ascent to power is so important as to warrant intentional harming of the vital national interests of South Sudan. Simply put, the national interests should be sacrificed on the altar of expediting Machar’s own rise to power.

Machar’s allies and confidants explain that “a renewed oil cutoff could bring South Sudan to its knees, triggering a wider governmental collapse” which Machar “can capitalize on to force [Kiir] out and then rise to power.” This observation of Machar’s plans by his own allies and confidants sheds a sinister and significant light on Machar’s own conduct of the negotiations in Khartoum.

President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises. Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible.

Omar Al-Bashir Presses For War, Not Peace With South Sudan To Save Himself

By Joe Odaby

Juba — July 19, 2013 (SSN) … The Fashoda Institute, South Sudan’s leading think-tank, asserts in its latest analysis that Khartoum’s objective in provoking armed conflict with Juba  goes beyond the on-going drive to coerce South Sudan into giving up on independence and returning to the Sudanese fold. This time Khartoum is yearning for a major crisis that will serve its own domestic imperatives – particularly the building of international pressure on President Omar al-Bashir.

At the same time, Khartoum seems convinced that the crisis will not get out of control because of the limitations of force movements imposed by the rainy season. However, given the tenuous control Khartoum exercises over many of its cross-border proxies and in-home militias – Khartoum’s incitement to violence might get life of its own.

Mid-July saw a marked escalation in fratricidal fighting, ostensibly over cattle wrestling, throughout South Sudan. The escalation in Jonglei State has been the most intense. Confronting the ongoing rebellion led by David Yau Yau is compounded by new clashes between the rival Lou Nuer and Murle tribes in which thousands of rival militiamen are fighting each other and the military of South Sudan.

Over 100,000 civilians have been cut off from vital aid because of the fighting between the rebels and rival tribes. Because of the fighting and the rainy season overland travel is impossible in the Jonglei area and the UN does not have enough helicopters.

Fratricidal violence has now escalated to the point that both the South Sudan military and the UN warn they cannot provide security in most of Jonglei. “Much as we believe in the ideals of the responsibility to protect, our mandate as the government and the mandate of the UN cannot match with resources that are there,” South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Defense Majak D’Agoot acknowledged on July 16. D’Agoot explained that, for example, in Jonglei’s Manyabol area the army had only one company and the UN had a handful of peacekeepers that are jointly confronting, and are vastly outnumbered by, some 7,000 militia troops.

UN officials note that this escalation of violence has been made possible by the large flow of weapons and ammunition from Sudan.

Meanwhile, the build-up of Sudanese military forces just north of the border continues. In July 2013, the Sudanese forces expanded their illegal presence in the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SBDZ). The Sudanese military is building new reinforced company-level encampments – each with three tanks, three or four howitzers, five to eight technicals, two or three supply trucks, and tents and other structures for some 150 – 200 troops. Such new encampments were detected in early July near the Sudanese towns of Keri Kera (White Nile State) and al-Miqenis (South Kordofan State) – near the northernmost tip of the South Sudanese border.

Meanwhile, Khartoum is raising the ante in the confrontation with Juba over oil exports from South Sudan. On July 18, Khartoum formally reaffirmed that Sudan will stop oil flow through its pipelines in early August despite signed agreements to the contrary.

“We have been notified through our embassy in Sudan that as of [August] 7th, the Republic of Sudan will cease oil belonging to South Sudan from passing through its territory,” Nhial Deng Nhial, South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The reason for this escalation is the growing pressure felt in Khartoum on account of the chaos in Egypt and falling support for Bashir from the African Union (AU). With Egypt increasingly looking at a war with Ethiopia over the Nile waters as a national diversion from the chaos and destitute at home – Sudan must also come up with excuses for its own military deployments to the south. The building tension with South Sudan provides this justification. As well, the AU’s disenchantment with Khartoum’s antics was aptly demonstrated during President Bashir’s heralded official visit to Abuja, Nigeria.

Bashir had to cut short the visit and literally flee Nigeria for fear of arrest over the ICC warrant. Hence, Bashir is petrified that once his immunity as a head of state is stripped away he’ll end up in The Hague. Hence, despite previous promises to retire in 2015, Bashir must now get reelected, and the promise of returning South Sudan is an invincible crowd pleasing theme. Ultimately, the Sudanese government is refusing to accept or legitimize the very independence of South Sudan. Hence, reigniting of populist Islamist zeal over the reoccupation of South Sudan remains an infallible cause.

Khartoum is cognizant that the Islamist youth will rally in support for any confrontation with South Sudan irrespective of their plight or domestic destitute. Thus, for Bashir’s Khartoum banging the war drums is a sure diversion from the building domestic and international pressure.

The Fashoda Institute’s analysis point out that Juba will not accommodate Khartoum’s need for a diversion. Nor will Juba succumb to the growing pressure from Khartoum. President Salva Kiir articulated the resolve of South Sudan in his Independence Day speech on July 9. “The Republic of South Sudan attained freedom and independence after a generation long and bitter struggle in which our people were subjected to untold atrocities and genocidal persecution. Yet, we held together and endured the ordeals, and overcame the hardships. The untold sacrifices of so many led to our cherished freedom and independence,” President Kiir declared.
“This freedom, which we won through so much blood, sweat and tears, will never be reversed by current challenges.”

It is high time Khartoum internalizes this.

 

South Sudan VP Machar Placates Khartoum, Plots To Unseat Kiir

By Juliet Abango
South Sudan News

Juba — July 6, 2013 … Having failed miserably in his latest diplomatic mission to Khartoum to restore and sustain oil exports from South Sudan via the Sudanese pipeline – South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar is raising the ante in his criticism of South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

At the very same time Sudan not only rebuffed Machar’s conciliatory approach, but reiterated its own assertiveness by attacking and bombing civilian-refugee targets inside South Sudan – Machar finds its expedient to tell the international media that he can, and should, be a better president of South Sudan.

On June 8, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir suddenly announced the stopping of oil experts by South Sudan irrespective of international and bilateral agreements. Bashir was motivated by higher regional and global strategic considerations demanded by Iran.

The stopping of oil exports would have caused a tremendous setback to the economic recovery and development programs of South Sudan by depriving Juba of its most important source of hard currency income. Because the stopping of oil exports constituted a flagrant violation of numerous international agreements, as well as internationally recognized bilateral agreements, Khartoum hesitated for a few days about the pace of implementation of Bashir’s order. However, on June 21, Khartoum reiterated its principled decision to stop South Sudan’s oil exports.

In an effort to capitalize on this hesitation and alleviate the horrendous impact of the oil stoppage on South Sudan, on June 30, President Kiir dispatched his Vice-President Machar to Khartoum in order to convince Sudanese leadership to reconsider their decision. Machar led a high level delegation that included five ministers. Their objective was to launch a comprehensive dialogue in order to restore bilateral relations and cooperation. However, Machar sought to monopolize the negotiations and determine their outcome through his own meetings with his counterpart Ali Osman Taha and subsequently also President Omar al-Bashir.

Instead of hard bargaining and marshaling international law and agreements to push Khartoum to the corner – Machar was forthcoming, conciliatory and compromising. He permitted negotiations to slide to uncharted territories and expressed eagerness to compromise in order to reach a deal at all cost.

Significantly, the lengthy discussions between Riek Machar and Ali Osman Taha went beyond addressing proper modalities for the full implementation of bilateral cooperation agreements to including reaching an understanding about the long-term relations between the two countries. In a subsequent meeting with a Sudanese opposition leader, Machar hinted at some regret about the break-up of Sudan. “If we did not survive as one country, we should now survive as two neighboring sisterly countries,” Machar said. Little wonder that official Khartoum hailed Machar’s visit and senior Sudanese officials told Arab diplomats they were ready for dialogue with Juba if the government is run by Machar. 

Ultimately, Khartoum permits the export of only the oil already in the pipeline. South Sudan’s ability to pump and export more oil a few weeks from now is in doubt. Machar failed in the main task of his mission – to restore his country’s long-term oil exports.

Khartoum noted Machar’s weakness and lack of resolve – and interpreted it as reflecting similar insecurity in official Juba. Therefore, to increase pressure on Juba and assert Khartoum’s dominance – on July 3, the Sudanese military launched several cross-border ground and air attacks into South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity States. Several people, mostly civilians, were killed and wounded. First, a Sudanese fighter-bomber jet bombed the Jau area of Unity State. The jet targeted refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan’s Nuba, South Kordofan State, to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity State. Both fighter-bomber jets and the ubiquitous Antonov transports (converted into bombers) launched a few bombing raids against civilian target inside South Sudan associated with helping and sheltering refugees from Sudan (rather than the “normal” civilian targets in South Kordofan just north of the border).

Meanwhile, small units of the 17th Division of the Sudan Armed Forces in Senar attacked civilian targets in the Gong-bar area, northeast of Renk County, Upper Nile State. The Sudanese forces crossed deep into South Sudanese territory before being confronted and repulsed by the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) units that rushed to the area. Sudanese army units also struck an SPLA position in the Jau area of Unity State – not far from the bombed area.

The Sudanese army also attacked SPLA positions south of Lake Jau in Unity State. All the Sudanese incursions were repulsed by local SPLA units. Significantly, on instruction from Juba, the SPLA forces did not conduct hot pursuit into Sudanese territory.

Although the Sudanese military incursions and bombings failed to achieve their military objectives – they did achieve their political goals. Khartoum aptly demonstrated that it is willing and capable of destabilizing and flaring-up the sensitive border area should Juba refuse to succumb to Khartoum’s diktats. This is hardly the “new era of friendly cooperation” Machar claimed to have negotiated and attained while in Khartoum only a few days beforehand.

Rather than accept responsibility for the fiasco he had wrought – Machar went on the political offensive against President Kiir. On the eve of the second anniversary of South Sudan, Machar told the UK paper The Guardian of his – Machar’s – conviction that Kiir has to be toppled and be replaced by himself – Machar.

Simon Tisdall wrote that Machar is urging Kiir “to stand down” and “vowing to replace him before or after elections due by 2015.” Tisdall observed that Machar “threatens to ignite a power struggle that South Sudan” to the point of raising “fears of a new descent into violence only eight years after the end of Africa’s longest civil war.”

While Machar insisted in his interview with The Guardian’s Tisdall that the toppling of Kiir should be accomplished through political-administrative measures at the SPLM’s leadership – Machar’s allies and confidants in London and Juba portray a different picture. According to these allies and confidants – Machar’s ascent to power is so important as to warrant intentional harming of the vital national interests of South Sudan. Simply put, the national interests should be sacrificed on the altar of expediting Machal’s own rise to power. Machar’s allies and confidants explain that “a renewed oil cutoff could bring South Sudan to its knees, triggering a wider governmental collapse” which Machar “can capitalize on to force Kiir out and then rise to power.”

This observation of Machar’s plans by his own allies and confidants sheds a new and significant light on Machar’s own conduct of the negotiations with Ali Osman Taha and Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.