Find a Security Clearance Job!


South Sudan - Tribal Warfare 2013-201?

At least ten thousand people were killed in the first month of fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and soldiers backing former deputy, Riek Machar, who was dismissed in July 2013. By New Year 2014 thousands had been killed in tribal warfare that pitted Dinka troops against Nuer combatants. Some 250,000 people had been displaced by the fighting as of 09 January 2014, and while no official death toll has been released, a top U.N. official saidit is likely to be "very substantially in excess of the figure of 1,000 that we know for sure about.”

Tensions within South Sudan, the world’s youngest country which only gained independence in July 2011 after seceding from Sudan, burst out into open conflict on 15 December when President Salva Kiir's Government said soldiers loyal to former deputy president Riek Machar, dismissed in July 2013, launched an attempted coup. Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Machar to the Lou Nuer.

After decades of struggle, by 2005 the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) wase the dominant single political movement in Southern Sudan, and the genesis of a one-party state. On July 30, 2005, long-time SPLM leader John Garang died in a helicopter crash. The SPLM/A named Salva Kiir, Garang’s deputy, as President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). The July 2005 death of Garang and the formation of the Government of South Sudan gave the SPLM opportunities to bring rivals and former adversaries into the fold. The enlargement process intensified factionalism within the SPLM. While the SPLM has no serious political rival in the South, there are internal strains.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit dismissed his entire government, including Vice President Riek Machar, in a decree issued late July 24, 2013. Kiir also removed all deputy ministers. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s Minister of Information and government spokesman before the restructuring announcement said a government makeover was overdue and that Kiir acted within the constitution. He rejected any suggestion that the reshuffle, as he called it, might cause instability in the world’s youngest country.

Alarmed by the increased conflict and violence in South Sudan, particularly the eastern state of Jonglei, the Security Council on 23 August 2013 strongly condemned attacks on civilians and the looting of UN and other international aid organizations’ facilities, and called on the Government to expedite safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the people cut off from aid. In a statement to the press, the Council “called on all parties, including armed militias, to exercise restraint, refrain from any acts of violence against civilians” and to “fully respect their obligations under applicable international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law.” An estimated 100,000 civilians in Jonglei alone have been cut off from life-saving assistance as a result of fighting between State and non-state armed actors, and the recent resurgence of inter-communal clashes.

On November 26, 2013 South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar said he was putting structures in place to challenge President Salva Kiir for the leadership of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) ahead of the 2015 general election. Some supporters of the ruling party said he was one of a group of visionless and directionless people in the party who were power hungry and intent on enriching themselves.

In December 2013, the political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar descended into violence, which by the end of 2014 left at least 10,000 people dead and more than 1.8 million displaced.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed 07 November 2014 on a power sharing formula in a deal to establish a national transitional government that would help steer the world’s newest nation to elections. The two warring leaders also called on their troops for an immediate cease-fire during the ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

One year after South Sudan's political infighting deteriorated into a deadly conflict, the parties appeared no closer to silencing their guns and getting back to the business of building the world’s youngest nation. Since its 2011 move to independence, the country spiraled into a humanitarian crisis that the UN said left half the population hungry and nearly two million displaced. Politically motivated fighting over the past year alone killed tens of thousands South Sudanese. More than a year of fighting in South Sudan left more than 10,000 people dead.

South Sudan - 2016

Critics of South Sudan’s government say it appeared that Kiir and his administration weren't interested in sharing power with the rebels, despite the agreement. They argue that the government will use state institutions, including the army, to undermine the pact.

Rebels loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar hailed a power sharing deal reached 07 January 2016 with the government as a positive breakthrough, one that they say brings their country one more step closer to peace. The agreement, signed in Juba, allocated a total of 30 ministries for a proposed transitional government of national unity. It gave the South Sudan government 16 ministries, including finance and planning, defense, information, national security, and justice and constitutional affairs. The rebels got 10 ministries, including petroleum, interior, labor, mining, and land, housing and urban development. Foreign affairs and transport were given to a group of former political detainees not aligned with either the South Sudan government or the rebels. Other political parties in South Sudan got two.

According to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission timetable, a government of national unity should be in place by January 22, 2016, with rebel leader Machar as first vice president of Sudan.

On 11 February 2016 South Sudan's President Salva Kiir appointed rebel leader Riek Machar to be first vice president in a coalition government, in what could be an important step toward ending the country's civil war. The move came after the East African bloc IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authorty on Development, urged Kiir and Machar to form a transitional government of national unity. Kiir's decree returned Machar to the No. 2 slot in South Sudan's government, more than 2½ years after Kiir fired Machar and the entire cabinet in July 2013.

On 19 February 2016 Ivan Šimonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, noted that the initial signing of the peace agreement in August had been met with optimism that the parties to the conflict would abide by their declaration of a permanent ceasefire and halt their attacks on the civilian population. “However, the reconciliatory rhetoric propagated by Government and opposition actors has deflected from the fact that the parties to the conflict continue to attack, kill, abduct, rape, arbitrarily detain, and forcefully displace civilians, and pillage and destroy their property...

"With the diffusion of armed conflict in all parts of the country, and the creation of local armed groups fighting against Government troops, South Sudan faces the risk of fragmentation and related human rights violations ... “It cannot be tolerated that leaders make declarations in Juba, while the hostilities and attacks on the civilian population continue and intensify across the country. Not only is South Sudan on the verge of fragmenting, but the conflict seriously threatens stability in the entire region,” he said.

In South Sudan, by early 2016 tens of thousands had been killed and more than 2 million had fled their homes since civil war flared up two years earlier. Supporters of both President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar accused each other of violating a cease-fire agreement. The current fall in oil prices contributed to the dire situation since the country's income is heavily dependant on oil revenues. Production, which stood at 245,000 barrels per day before violence erupted, was down by roughly a third. Falling oil prices, combined with a fixed fee for the use of export pipelines, meant that South Sudan is now losing money on every barrel it sells.

A report on South Sudan published 11 March 2016 by the UN Human Rights Office described “in searing detail” a multitude of horrendous human rights violations, including a Government-operated “scorched earth policy,” and deliberate targeting of civilians for killing, rape and pillage. Although all parties to the conflict have committed patterns of serious and systematic violence against civilians since fighting broke out in December 2013, the report said state actors bore the greatest responsibility during 2015, given the weakening of opposition forces.

The scale of sexual violence was "particularly shocking" : in five months last year, from April to September 2015, the UN recorded more than 1,300 reports of rape in just one of South Sudan’s ten states, oil-rich Unity. Credible sources indicate groups allied to the Government are being allowed to rape women in lieu of wages but opposition groups and criminal gangs have also been preying on women and girls.

On April 26, 2016 South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar finally returned to the capital and took the oath as the country's top vice president. Machar's arrival raised hopes the government and rebels can move ahead with a peace deal signed in 2015 to end the country's 30-month civil war. After the swearing-in, President Salva Kiir said he and Machar "will immediately proceed to form the Transitional Government of National Unity" called for in the peace accord.

Join the mailing list