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South Sudan Needs More Answers On Seized UNMISS Arms

By Joan Walters
South Sudan News

PaulJacob_ssnSouth Sudan Acting Director General of Information Paul Jacob viewing some of the guns
[Photo: Matata Safi]

Rumbek — March 10, 2014 … The rift between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the leadership of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UMNISS) seems to be deepening after authorities in the Lakes state last week seized vehicles contracted by the later to transport ‘building materials’ were found to be carrying military hardware.

Thirteen of the privately owned vehicles belonging to different companies based in Juba are now been held in Lakes State capital Rumbek, and another unspecified number have also been detained beyond Rumbek.

 

Three of the thirteen detained semi-trailer vehicles each carrying two twenty-feet containers were searched and a number of firearms and ammunition were recovered.

 

The samples of the arms as were being ‘identified’ by military personel included; Rocket Propel Grenade (RPF) launchers, AK24, Gim files, Anti Riot guns, Binoculars [Ances-6 Trilium night bino], radio systems, Bayonets’ Anti-Personal Landlines among others.

 

UNMISS in a statement confirmed the incident and said the seized cargo were meant for its Ghanaian peacekeepers on a peace keeping mission in South Sudan.

 

“In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on its way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labeled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition This is regrettable,” a UNMISS press release issued on Thursday partly read.

 

“It is the policy of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) that during the crisis in South Sudan all arms and ammunition for peacekeeping contingents are flown into respective areas of deployment and not taken by road. This is an important security measure.” However the government says it needs more answers than ‘just’ issuing press releases.

 

“It is not enough that the South Sudan UN representative the other day issued a statement and admitted it was a mistake and called it an error; in security situations like this, we will not say ok, if it was a mistake, it is fine …some people must answer, some people must answer” South Sudan’s Information Minister Hon. Micheal Makuei Lueth who traveled to Rumbek on Saturday said after confirming the UN consignment that was impounded.

 

He wondered why the UN body did not following the correct procedures of handling military hardware, as they have been doing previously. We had earlier on established a system, that when importing arms and amunitions or any other military hardware, UNMISS informs the government before these items could begin to move from where they are been imported. It is there after that we [government] give them approval. Hon. Makuei explained. Adding that even after the equipment are moved to South Sudan, they are inspected before they are moved to their destination.

 

“UNMISS is not working in good faith, in fact our problem is not with UNMISS as a UN entity in South Sudan but with the personnel who are running UNMISS – why are they hiding these arms from the South Sudan government? This is an ill intension and this will not be accepted by the government of South Sudan” the Hon. Makuei who is also the government’s official spokesperson stressed.

 

The government earlier accused UNMISS for what is termed as ‘handing over’ of it vehicles and military tanks to the rebels of Dr. Riek machar who rebelled against the government after a failed coup attempt in mid December last year. UNMISS denied the charges.

 

At least from the offloaded containers, the arms and firearms were found parked at the far end of the container, while towards the entrance were building material as indicated on the way bill.

 

Containers bear varying destinations

Despite all waybills of the thirteen impounded vehicles indicating Bentiu as the last destination of delivery; varying labels could be seen on the containers suggesting that not all the containers were heading to Unity state as indicated in the waybills. Rumbek, Bentiu are some of the labels on the containers.

 

Lakes state Governor Matur Chut Dhuol wondered why the container(s) for Rumbek were not handed over to the UNMISS representatives in Lakes state. Governor Dhoul said it is time the UN brings fresh faces to its mission in South Sudan.  If you keep people in the same positions for very many years, they will get used to the system and begin manipulating it he said.

 

The drivers speaks out

Speaking to all the drivers of the different companies currently in custody, one thing was clear, all the drivers were not present when the containers were loaded.

 

“We are drivers of a company called Taslim, when these containers were filled, we were not there. When we arrived with out trucks, we found the containers had seals on them and were loaded on our truck; We were latter given the waybills indicating that what we had on board are building materials”, one driver of Kenyan origin who identified himself as Ali speaking in Kiswahili said.

 

As drivers we are not hired by UN nor paid by UN. We are here as drivers of our company that pays us; we do not know anything about these guns, he added.

They wanted to hire about twenty trucks, but am sure they did not find all that number, said another driver Abraham Ladu, a South Sudanese National who lives in Malakia, a suburb in the Capital Juba. Indeed we found there were many containers all sealed waiting to be transported at the UN base in Tongping; Laku whose company vehicle was hired on the 14th  of last month said

 

IGP was misled Hon: Makuei

Hon. Makuei said because of the blanket-trust that the government had on UNMISS, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) based on the waybills presented to him, he said issued a letter to all roadblocks and all the police commissioners of the states through which the vehicles would be passing, directing them to facilitate the free movement of the trucks. “It turned out that even the IGP was misled”, Hon. Makuei noted.

 

He congratulated the lake states government particularly the governor and the security operatives. He said if the hired vehicles were able to move thousands of kilometers only to be apprehended in Rumbek, ‘that means these vehicles have been moving everywhere”. Hon. Makuei further said the ‘UNMISS has given the government the licenses” to search any UN vehicle anywhere in South Sudan.

 

The high-level government delegation that was in Rumbek over the weekend to confirm the “illegal” transportation of UN arms included, Hon. Makuei, the Interior Minister Aleu Ayieng Aleu and the deputy minister of General Education Bol Makueng who went as a representative of the Ruling Party Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Paul Jacob Kumbo, the Acting Director General of Information in the Ministry of Information. Reporters from both public and private media houses were flown in to witness.

South Sudan VP James Wani Igga Returns To Juba From Abuja Summit

wani-igggga
Vice President HE James Wani Igga

By South Sudan News Staff

JUBA — March 7, 2014 … South Sudan Vice President HE James Wani Igga arrived in Juba from Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria on Thursday where he led a high level delegation to attend the just-concluded Human Security summit.

Upon arrival at Juba International Airport, His Excellence Igga, was received by the South Sudan Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin and other ministers and senior government officials.

“We had a very important visit to Nigeria. We arrived in Abuja on the February 27, it was a very big conference attended by over forty heads of states” the Vice President told reports in Juba. The seven-day conference centered on security, peace and development in Africa.

He said the South Sudan delegation, made fruitful engagements with a good number of heads of states within the sidelines of the conference where they briefed them on the political and economic situation in the country.

HE Igga also met with the Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan and discussed matters of bilateral relations and cooperation.

 

South Sudan: UN Silent On Rebels’ Atrocities

southern sudan civilians killedThe body of a man killed in a massacre of civilians by rebels lies on the ground
in the village of Kaldak, in Jonglei state in southern Sudan.

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — February 17, 2014 … The respected Sudan Tribune newspaper asks in its lead article why the international community is silent about carnage and destruction caused by the rebels lead by Riek Machar in Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, Bailiet, Akobo, Jalle, and Kolnyang.

“Why is the UN and the international community maintaining silence over these unwarranted and disheartening atrocities?” asks the newspaper.

The analytical article suggests three steps to end the crisis.

First, government and people of South Sudan must ensure that “Riek Machar’s conspiracy to destroy the country is nipped in the bud so that people’s aspirations are realized sooner than later”.

To do this, the government should institute coordinated and parallel strategies to address challenges caused by the rebels in South Sudan and their allies; namely, intensification of military offensive and formulation of a robust strategy on future negotiated political settlement. The former should be applied if the rebels continue to violate agreement on “Cessation of Hostilities,” signed on January 23rd, 2014 between the Government of South Sudan and rebels in Addis Ababa. The latter, however, should be a continuous process with support from South Sudanese true and creditable allies worldwide.

Second, the government of South Sudan should make it categorically clear to the international community that the Republic of South Sudan is a sovereign nation and should be treated as such. This means that all laws of the land must be respected. And that any attempt to side step these laws must not be tolerated whatsoever.

A wounded South Sudanese child and a relative at a hospital in Upper Nile state

“A recent concerted campaign by foreign agents on the release of seven former political detainees was a flagrant infringement into South Sudanese legal system”, stresses the Sudan Tribune. “It has to be mentioned here that the former detainees’ released to the custody of Kenyan Government was achieved through undue pressure from supposedly allies of South Sudan, particularly the US, Ethiopia, and Kenya”.

Third, “the next looming conspiracy is relentless effort to secure the release of the remaining principal four coup plotters; namely, Pagan Amum Ukiech, Oyai Deng Ajak, Majak D’Agoot and Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth. If South Sudanese’ false allies succeed to release them, God forbid, then it will be a third bitter victory against the government and people of South Sudan. Should these four coup plotters win their release any time soon, Riek Machar will definitely capitalize on his theory that what happened on December 15, 2013, was not a coup but was “only a political crisis within SPLM Party.” And the majority of uninformed South Sudanese will believe his story since no one has been held accountable of coup attempt”.

“Riek Machar and foreign agents’ misinterpretation of facts surrounding the failed coup on December 15, 2013 is worrisome if not taken seriously by Government and people of South Sudan”, warns the newspaper.

“Otherwise, the government and people of the South will always fall victims in the hands of rebels and foreign allies, a move likely to threaten national security and sovereignty in mid- and long-term”.

South Sudan President Kiir’s Christmas Message – End Tribal Violence

Salva_Kiir_church_edited
South Sudan President Kiir’s Christmas Message – End Tribal Violence

By Christine Walters
South Sudan News

Juba, South Sudan — December 26 … South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a Christmas call for the immediate restoration of peace on an official Twitter social media account of South Sudan’s government: “Innocent people have been wantonly killed. People are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. This is unacceptable,” announced the President. “These atrocities recurring have to cease immediately.”

VIDEO: Christmas And New Year Message From South Sudan President Kiir

President Kiir, a devout Catholic, has attended the Christmas mass in Juba, the capital of  war-torn South Sudan staying at the service shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of refugees seeking protection in the church.

The compound of the Catholic cathedral of Juba has been transformed into a refugee camp in the past week. Close to 7,000 people have found shelter there from tribal violence, which began with an attempted coup by Riek Machar, former Vice President, on 15 December and has since spread to half of South Sudan forcing up to 80,000 civilians to flee their homes.

“The current crisis in South Sudan cannot be comprehended in isolation from the country’s tormented past and challenging current posture. South Sudan has been trying hard to build a nation and a state after the debilitating war of independence, autonomy period, and the post-independence austerity period (caused by Sudan’s blocking of oil exports until very recently). It is a mighty challenge given the diversity of the population and the gravity of the situation”, wrote in its analytical report an influential African think-tank The Fashoda Institute.

“President Kiir was doing as great a job as can be expected under such horrific conditions. For several months now, Machar has tried to further the self-interests of his Nuer tribe by undermining the nation-building effort of the Kiir administration, and by reawakening the sectarian-tribal tensions”, opined the analysis.

“When Machar was rejected by the South Sudan government and Party establishments – he launched the revolt that is now tearing the nation apart along tribal-national lines. Reik Machar must not be rewarded for awakening and capitalizing on sectarian-tribal hostilities and enmities (as he did in the 1990s and caused several Nuer massacres of Dinka). The South Sudan government should be helped to restore stability and unity in the country, and then should be helped to improve both good governance and the economy”, concludes The Fashoda Institute.

South Sudan: Khartoum’s Aid to Machar’s Tribal Violence

By South Sudan News Staff

Juba — December 24 … During the weekend of 20-22 December, the Republic of South Sudan underwent through the low of the crisis and emerged to the next phase of putting down the Machar revolt. The African think-tank, The Fashoda Institute, has published a current analysis of the South Sudan’s crisis.

 

“Juba entered the weekend having lost control over most of Jonglei State. However, this loss of control was the result of an uneasy cease-fire and tenuous cooperation between the predominantly Nuer ex-SPLA forces of General Peter Gadet Yaak and the Merle forces of the warlord David Yau Yau. It is still not clear just how much of Unity State – Machar’s home – and the vital oil fields remained under Juba’s control and how much were under the rebel control” says the report. “On 22 December, the situation in Juba itself was calm and stable. There was no threat to President Kiir’s hold onto power and to the Government’s functioning”.

 

“The main Machar-related threats remained the two military units that defected. Despite repeated efforts, Gadet’s and Koang’s forces failed to break out of the Nuer-populated areas” stresses the report. “The Nuer-dominated areas where these forces operate presently are surrounded by Dinka-majority areas and large SPLA forces. President Kiir intends to bring these mutineer forces back to the fold. If reconciliation doesn’t work – the rebel forces will be defeated”.

 

“To affect a dramatic breakout despite the military stalemate, the Machar camp is pursuing an audacious strategy. On the one hand, they are portraying Machar himself as a world class leader and democrat worthy of the presidency and definitely on par with President Kiir (a theme that is being reinforced by the highlighting and endorsement of Machar’s harsh criticism of President Kiir and his government by the mainstream media in the West)”, explains the report.

“On the other hand, Machar’s forces are escalating their crazy operations – shooting at US Air Force MV-22s trying to evacuate foreign citizens from Bor (and wounding four US military personnel),  shooting at UN helicopters trying to deliver emergency humanitarian supplies in both Jongeli and Unity States, attacking a few UNMISS bases (where three Indian UN troops and 33 South Sudanese refugees were killed), and the threats to blow up the oil facilities in Jonglei State”.

 

“Khartoum started exploiting the diversion of SPLA units from the border to surrounding the mutineer units in Jonglei and Unity States in order to push large quantities of small arms and ammunition to both rebel (like Yau Yau’s) and Nuer forces”, asserts Fashoda.

“A few convoys were interdicted by the SPLA over the weekend. However, the quantities of weapons in hostile hands in sensitive areas are visibly growing. Moreover, the attackers of the UNMISS base used brand-new Sudanese-made ammunition (as determined from the empty cartridges left behind). The SPLA will have to tackle these challenges only after Machar’s coup is brought to an end”.

 

“Unless Juba is capable of marshaling the country’s military forces quickly, suppressing the revolt in Unity State (as distinct from Jonglei where Juba’s control had been tenuous since independence), and restoring SPLA presence along the Sudanese border – the rebellion will spread and a multitude of smaller foci of violence will join the fray as local leaders will conclude that Juba is vulnerable and will therefore attempt to extract-by-force favors, funds and services for their own constituencies”, advises the analytical Institute.

 

“The current crisis in South Sudan cannot be comprehended in isolation from the country’s tormented past and challenging current posture. South Sudan has been trying hard to build a nation and a state after the debilitating war of independence, autonomy period, and the post-independence austerity period (caused by Sudan’s blocking of oil exports until very recently). It is a mighty challenge given the diversity of the population and the gravity of the situation.

President Kiir was doing as great a job as can be expected under such horrific conditions. For several months now, Machar has tried to further the self-interests of his Nuer tribe by undermining the nation-building effort of the Kiir administration, and by reawakening the sectarian-tribal tensions. When Machar was rejected by the Government and Party establishments – he launched the revolt that is now tearing the nation apart along tribal-national lines”, concludes the report. “Irrespective of President Kiir’s actions – Machar must not be rewarded for awakening and capitalizing on sectarian-tribal hostilities and enmities (as he did in the 1990s and caused several Nuer massacres of Dinka).

President Kiir should be helped to restore stability and unity in the country, and then should be helped to improve both good governance and the economy. Hopefully, South Sudan will quiet down and stabilize well before election time in 2015”.

 

 

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.”

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 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.

 

 

 

Sudan Prepares Major Military Offensive To Divert From Internal Unrest

By Joe Odaby

Juba, South Sudan — September 30, 2013 … The leading South Sudan think-tank, The Fashoda Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies, has published a strategic analysis of the recent military buildup in the neighboring Sudan.

Northern Sudan (capital: Khartoum), from which the South has seceded in 2011 after a long civil war, is led by the Islamist government of President Omar al-Bashar who was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Fashoda institute points out that “the escalating fuel riots in Khartoum, and increasingly other cities in Sudan, serve as a stark reminder of the inherent fragility and instability of the country”.

The riots were sparked by the spiraling prices of all fuel products following the abolition of subsidies and the growing shortages of all fuel products. The recurring shortages of fuel result in shortages of food and other products and goods brought into Khartoum from both the Red Sea ports and the countryside. Within a few days, the riots became the worst since the 1989 riots that led to the military coup that brought to power Omar al-Bashir. “What began early this week in Sudan as a protest against the removal of fuel subsidies has developed into a full-blown uprising that is threatening President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s 24-year rule,” Arab political observers warned on September 27.

As the Khartoum riots escalated and turned political, the Sudanese military was sent to the streets to crackdown the riots by force. By 27 September, the Sudanese government acknowledged that over 50 demonstrators were killed by the security forces, over 250 were wounded, and over 600 were arrested. Numerous opposition sources put the casualties tally in Khartoum alone at over 150 fatalities, over 750 wounded, and over 2,000 arrested and/or disappeared. The military’s violent crackdown in Khartoum sparked even bigger and more violent riots over the weekend throughout Sudan. The protesters are now openly demanding the overthrow of Bashir’s regime while calling Bashir himself “a killer”. Moreover, both the Sudanese government and Arab diplomats report a growing use of automatic weapons by the rioters starting the evening of September 27. On the morning of the September 28, four security personnel were shot and killed in Khartoum by unidentified gunmen in the ranks of the rioters.

The Fashoda Institute writes that “the oil crisis is unfolding and escalating at a time when Khartoum is spending huge sums of hard currency on advanced weapons – mainly weapon systems optimized for long-range strikes and major wars rather than handling insurgencies such as the never-ending insurgency in Darfur”.

The Juba-based think-tank unveils that “in recent months, Khartoum has embarked on an unprecedented military build-up – mainly of air power. The key weapon systems are being purchased from Belarus. Most important is the acquisition of 12 refurbished Su-24Ms (4-6 of them already supplied) and 18 refurbished Su-30MKs (originally leased by India from Russia but returned to Belarus for the legal reason that the Russian Air Force cannot operate them).

Sudan was also negotiating the acquisition of another batch of second hand Su-25s to augment the existing fleet of 11 Su-25s (out of 14 originally purchased from Belarus). Belarus has a large arsenal of high quality combat aircraft that was put on sale for hard currency. A total of 35-36 Su-24Ms were withdrawn from service in February 2012, and the remaining 22-23 Su-24Ms are available for purchase. As well, 17 Su-27P and 4 Su-27UBM1fighters were withdrawn from service in December 2012 and also put for sale. The Belarus Air Force also has around 20 Su-25s stored in Lida. Khartoum expressed interest in virtually every major combat aircraft available and the main lingering issue is the availability of hard currency”. 

The Fashoda Institute points at the scope of the Sudanese military buildup: “Sudan is also looking for additional MiG-29s which Belarus cannot offer. Sudan acquired numerous MiG-29s in the last decade. In late 2008, 23 of the MiG-29s were in active service. However, only 11 of these MiG-29s were operational in the first half of 2013. One MiG-29 was claimed by the South Sudanese air defense on April 4, 2012. Apparently, the aircraft crash-landed in a Sudanese airbase and was written off. The other 11 MiG-29s were grounded due to maintenance difficulties. Sudan is interested in a large number of MiG-29s and the main candidate source is Ukraine that has around 100 MiG-29s of various models stored in reserve”.

“The most important undertaking by the Sudanese Air Force in recent months is the large scale recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – from all over the former Soviet Union”, discovers the Fashoda Institute. “Their main mission is to activate, up-grade and better utilize the existing arsenal of the Sudanese Air Force (that had suffered both combat and technical damage in recent years). The first visible result is the growing number of MiG-29s that are taking off for test and evaluation flights. The efforts of the ex-Soviet mercenaries have already returned 4-6 additional MiG-29s to flying status.

The revamped Sudanese Air Force has unprecedented long range reach covering northern Ethiopia and all of nemesis South Sudan. Indeed, the Sudanese government is also committing huge resources to the up-grading and expansion of all key military airbases in the southern parts of the country – including the extension of paved runways and the construction of new buildings, bunkers and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government is making strenuous efforts with Russia to expedite and increase the deal for assault helicopters and helicopter gunships. On order are 12+6 Mi-8T and 12+6 Mi-24D/V/P. Although Khartoum is ready to pay cash for everything – the Kremlin is not rushing the deal for political-strategic reasons. Again, the Sudanese acquisition of weapon systems is accompanied by the widespread recruitment of mercenaries – aircrews, technical experts and ground crews – to get Sudan’s existing arsenal of 20 Mi-8/Mi-17 assault and 24 Mi-24 combat helicopters into better operational status, and have highly qualified aircrews in the cockpits”.

The Fashoda Institute points out that “although the main emphasis of Khartoum is air power, the expansion and modernization of the military is not neglected either. The current priority of Khartoum is launching a concentrated effort to fully operationalize and activate the large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) purchased from Ukraine in 2009-2010 and delivered over the next couple of years. The main weapon systems are T-72 MBTs, BM-21 MRLs, 152mm 1S3 SPGs, 122mm 2S1 SPGs, and 122mm D-30 guns. As well, the Sudanese army has embarked on the refurbishment and modernization of key military bases and garrisons in southern Sudan – including the installation of modern communications systems.

The Sudanese military build-up effort got a major boost on 9 September during the visit of Libyan defense minister Abdel-Rahman Al-Thani to Khartoum. Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Rahim Hussein signed an agreement with his Libyan counterpart on large scale weapons, spares and ammunition transfers mainly from Qadhafi’s stockpiles in southern Libya. In return, Sudan promised to restrain Libyan Jihadists that had sought and received shelter in Sudan and prevent them from returning to Libya. (The Sudan-Libya agreement is identical to the agreement signed with Egypt in 2001.) The supplies from Libya will also enable the Sudanese military to activate and return to operational use a sizeable force of older models of Soviet-origin weapons”.

“Taken together, these efforts point out to active preparations for a major land war rather than mere escalation of the fighting against irregular forces in Darfur or elsewhere in Sudan”, highlights the report of the Fashoda Institute.

“Khartoum needs a major diversion of the popular anguish and frustration”, says the Institute’s analysis. “Addressing external threats is a proven diversion from internal crises. The calls for the reunification of Sudan under the banner of Islam have been a popular rallying cry for the widespread Islamist and Mahdist constituencies – and thus a sure method for getting their supporters out of the swelling ranks of rioters. Moreover, it is also expedient for the Bashir administration to blame the oil crisis and shortage of funds on the lingering impact of the transfer of so many oilfields to South Sudan after the mid-2011 break-up of Sudan.           

Ultimately, Khartoum is driven by the grim realities of the region, and Bashir’s determination to get involved in crises with assertive offensive strategy. Irrespective of reassuring political rhetoric – Sudan and South Sudan are heading toward a major face-off that might easily escalate into violence. Abyei remains a volatile region with tension growing as a result of Sudan’s atrocious suppression of grassroots revolts in surrounding South Kordofan. The Abyei crisis will also keep lingering since the referendum is nowhere to be seen. Khartoum considers the Abyei oil reserves a shortcut to addressing the economic catastrophe and therefore won’t accept the secession the local population yearns for. The road to war from such irreconcilable quandary is very short. Abyei is not the only crisis point for the South Sudan-Sudan border demarcation as proposed by the AU is equally problematic and destabilizing, and thus might provoke crisis and war at any moment.

Furthermore, even though Cairo is currently focused on domestic issues in the aftermath of the military takeover – the crisis with Ethiopia over the Nile waters lingers on and is far from resolution. Dominance over the Nile waters is a sacred cause for both Egypt and Sudan – and thus no government in Cairo or Khartoum will ever allow itself to be portrayed as having compromised with the Nile Basin states. With no viable solution in sight, and with the work on the Ethiopian dams continuing apace – the crisis might still escalate into a major war. South Sudan will be dragged into such a war by regional geography”.  

“Thus, all of these are both ticking crises in their own right, as well as good causes for diversion and tension building for the besieged Bashir administration”, warns the Fashoda Institute. “Hence, Khartoum’s saber rattling and war preparations might prove self-fulfilling”.

The report on the think-tanks Website ends with assessment of the Juba’s options: “Little wonder that South Sudan is considering its own military build-up – as declared on September 22 by the new Defense Minister Kuol Manyang. Juba is determined to build a strong national army even if such undertaking might take nearly half of the national budget allocation. Manyang explained that Juba wants “the army to be at full military readiness to ensure victories in any military engagements.” Juba’s “strategic vision” calls for the building of “a strong and professional force” in regional terms. Manyang stressed that Juba’s ultimate objective is to deter the eruption of wars and crises, but that “the army, anywhere in the world, can only avoid wars when it is capable of winning them.”

South Sudan Establishes Database On Homeless Children

By Christian Edwards

Juba, South Sudan — September 19, 2013 (SSN) Mrs. Awut Deng, South Sudan Minister of Gender Child, Social welfare and Humanitarian Affairs, has engaged in a countrywide audit aimed at establishing the actual number of street children and orphans for the purpose of national planning.

Minister Deng has travelled to the Eastern Equatoria state to assess the situation of the homeless children there. Her visit, she said was to collect views of various civil servants, experts, charity workers on how best the street children could be helped to lead a normal life.

“It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that all these children go to school. They are the future of this country”, the Gender Minister urged.

She called on the governments of regional states, development partners, civil society organization and religious leaders to join efforts in ensuring “streets free of street children”.

Hon. Awut who was received by the state’s deputy governor Mr.Jerome Gama Surur, visited a school of the orphans in the state’s capital Torit. The school is operated by the charity organization, Hope for Sudan. It has enrolled a total of 86 orphans. Madam Awut applauded the well wishers whose contributions made it possible to set up the center that she said has become home for many homeless children.

Awest Lomoro, a street child aged nine, appealed to the government for support, saying the government needs to take action to protect the fathers and the mothers. The South Sudan Gender Minister has in the recent past visited Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.