Tag Archives: war crimes

South Sudan: UK Legislators Demand Riek Machar Stops Using Child Soldiers

By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News

Juba — January 20 … Former Vice Speaker of the House of the Lords Baroness Cox, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Avebury, Sir Peter BottomleyMP, Lord Chidgey, Nic Dakin MP, Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Baroness Kinnock, Lord Lea of Crondall, Stephen Mosley MP, The Earl of Sandwich and John Mann MP have sent a letter to the Times pointing out that while hostilities occur in South Sudan, “in the Republic of Sudan a systematic campaign of aerial bombardments and other atrocities continues, committed by the government in Khartoum against civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile state and Darfur. As the rest of the world turns its attention to South Sudan, the suffering of these people will be forgotten and aid will be diverted or denied”.

British legislators, all with extensive experience in foreign affairs and African issues in particular, note that “the current conflict has been wrongly caricatured as primarily an ethnic dispute between the two main tribal groups, the Dinka and the Nuer.

Although tribal identity has been a historic basis for conflict and continues to be a factor in recent violence, the current fighting is not simply based on ethnicity – for example, the General Chief of Staff, who remains loyal to the Dinka President of South Sudan, is a Nuer”.

Members of the UK’s House of the Lords and House of Commons have urged “the leader of the rebellion, Riek Machar, to demobilize all child soldiers who have been fighting alongside his forces, including those in the so-called White Army”.

 

The legislators have expressed their support for the current peace talks led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron to add his strong support to the ongoing IGAD negotiations.

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.

Al-Bashir Denies Vaccinations To 150,000 Children in Sudan

sudan_child_news
Girls wait for medical aid in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains

By SSN Staff

Juba — June 25, 2013 … Republic of Sudan headed by President Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity, has again rejected a proposition made by the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). The plea was for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities to carry out a vaccination campaign.

SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman, who leads its negotiating team, demanded again on Sunday to hold talks with the Sudanese government on how to organise a Polio vaccination campaign targeting 150,000 children under five years old in rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

According to the report by the Sudan Tribune, Arman proposed a temporary humanitarian cessation of hostilities and to bring the vaccine and the material needed to carry out this operation directly from regional countries, Ethiopia and Kenya. The rebel group also requests that SPLM – humanitarian personnel should be involved instead of Sudanese staff.

He said that the families in the rebel controlled areas do not trust a vaccine brought from Khartoum which attempts to murder their children through the continued bombing.

Khartoum’s government spokesperson said they are resolved to not repeat the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) in the rebel areas.

The operation was established in April 1989, months before Bashir coup d’état, as a result of an agreement signed by the government, UN aid agencies and SPLM rebels to reach civilians regardless of their location or political affiliation in South Sudan.

Sudan said the aid agencies instead of reaching civilians in the devastated famine areas delivered food to the SPLA fighters.

On May 27, Bashir accused South Sudan of helping the rebels in the southern parts of Sudan and explicitly threatened to stop the flow of oil from South Sudan to Red Sea ports. “We warn the government in the South that if they provide any assistance to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) or to the rebels in Darfur, we will completely close the pipeline,” Bashir declared. “We will know if they stop the assistance, and we will know if they assist them.”

Experts of The Fashoda Institute (South Sudan’s Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies) believe that Khartoum’s new policy aims to markedly escalate tension, and even lead to wider war. The Islamist Government which came to power in Khartoum through a coup two decades ago made Sudan a hub of Jihadist terrorism serving as a link between the Sunni Al-Qaida and the Shiite Iran. Its decade-long genocidal war against Sudanese Christians and animalists resulted in the Darfur genocide and ICC indictment against Sudan’s President al-Bashir for crimes against humanity.

South Sudan’s independence gained in 2011 was perceived by the Islamist Government of Khartoum as a set-back in Jihad which has to be avenged.

Indeed, addressing the Khartoum rally on June 8, Bashir emphasized that stopping the flow of oil was only the beginning and that a military confrontation with South Sudan was soon to follow.

Waving his trademark baton and dancing on stage, Bashir addressed the now agitated and jubilant youth in the crowd and those watching the televised speech. Bashir urged the youths to join the Army and the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces.

Baroness Cox, Former Deputy Speaker of the British House of the Lords thinks that “it is only the resistance by Southern Sudan that is preventing the Islamization of the rest of Africa, down to Cape Town”.

American experts on African politics also believe that the real reason for Bashir’s sudden bellicosity has little to do with South Sudan’s alleged support for the rebellion in the southern parts of Sudan. The real reason is opposition’s credible threat to topple Bashir and his regime within 100 days because of the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country. Earlier on June 8, Sudan’s opposition alliance, which is comprised of over 20 opposition parties, announced a plan for the peaceful overthrow of the Bashir regime. “I expect the regime will fall before the 100 days finish,” said alliance head Farouk Abu Issa.

The alliance’s plans include public forums and mass rallies aimed to mobilize the country’s destitute youth for peaceful protests until they are able to topple the Bashir government. The opposition alliance already prepared “an initiative for democratic change” that includes modalities for a transitional administration, and is “going to send this initiative to the president.” The opposition alliance intends to ask the state security services for permission to hold their first mass rally at Khartoum University. “If we don’t get it, then there is another step we can take but we will not announce it now,” Abu Issa told a press conference.

Bashir’s Khartoum cannot afford to ignore the opposition’s threats to agitate and mobilize the youth. Sudan is suffering from months of inflation exceeding 40%. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate is rapidly growing to well over 25%, with youth unemployment in the cities exceeding 60%. To date, there has been no outlet for the frustration and despair of Sudan’s urban youth. Nor was there any hope for a way out of their destitute. Now, Bashir fears, the opposition alliance might be offering these youth a venue for venting their frustrations and a hope for employment and betterment of life in the aftermath of a peaceful regime change.

Bashir’s Khartoum has no plan for economic change or recovery. Hence, Bashir desperately needs a foreign distraction for the masses, as well as excuse to dispatch the poor and discontent youth far away from Khartoum. The most expedient solution is for Bashir to send them to fight and die for the Jihad against South Sudan.