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South Sudan - Tribal Warfare 2015

On 02 January 2015 South Sudan's National Election Commission (NEC) set June 30 as the date for this year's general elections. In December 2014 the government announced that it has approved a budget of 1.5 billion South Sudanese Pounds ($517 million) for the elections, in which the presidency and all of the seats in the National Assembly will be decided. A prominent think-tank wondered where the government will get the money. The rebels said insecurity around the country would make it impossible to organize a free and fair vote.

An agreement signed 01 February 2015 by South Sudan's warring parties called for a final peace deal by early March 2015 and creation of a transitional national government by July 2015. South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, and rebel commander Riek Machar signed it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The text said government and rebel forces recommit to a cessation of hostilities deal signed January 23, 2014. It says negotiations will resume to work out the final peace deal, due by 05 March 2015.

From the middle of 2015, a new pattern emerged, particularly in the central and southern counties of Unity state, with entire villages being burned down, food crops destroyed and livestock looted, amid indications that this may have been a deliberate strategy by the Government or army to deprive civilians of any source of livelihood and force their displacement.

On 04 August 2015 President Barack Obama said said President Salva Kiir and his vice president-turned-rebel leader Riek Machar had squandered the hope South Sudan had and the progress it had made when the nation became independent in 2011. Fighting between forces backing the rivals for power had killed thousands and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes. It also had hurt oil production, squelching economic development.

South Sudan's warring rivals failed to strike a full peace deal 17 August 2015 despite the threat of international sanctions, but the government was to return to finalize an agreement within 15 days, the chief mediator said. At least seven cease-fires have already been agreed and then shattered within days, if not hours in Africa's newest country.

President Salva Kiir appeared on South Sudan Television (SSTV) on 01 October 2015 declaring that he had decided to divide the 10 states into 28 new states. For example, Central Equatoria would be divided into three states: Juba State, Terekeka State and Yei River State. Article 161 of South Sudan's Transitional Constitution states that the territory of South Sudan is composed of ten states. Kiir's decree affected the peace deal with the rebel group SPLM-IO because the deal gave the group the positions of governor in two states, Unity and Upper Nile.

Uganda said October 12, 2015 it was pulling its soldiers out of South Sudan, where they had supported President Salva Kiir in the country's civil war. The Ugandan army said that the troops should be out of South Sudan by the first week in November. Uganda deployed the troops soon after fighting erupted.

The long-awaited African Union Commission of Inquiry report on the South Sudan conflict was released 28 October 2015. It found that both the South Sudan government and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar committed human rights violations, some of which the report said constitute war crimes. The report said the violations included killings and murder, torture, cruel, inhumane and other degrading treatment, abductions, rape and other sexual and gender-based violations.

But the commission said it did not have any reasonable grounds to believe that the crime of genocide was committed during the conflict. The commission said it had identified possible perpetrators on both sides that might bear the greatest responsibility.

The Commission condemned killings by both the rebels (SPLA-in opposition) and the government (SPLA). In particular, the targeted killing of about 134 Nuer men in Gudele joint operation center; the execution of disarmed Nuer soldiers from the Tiger Batallion at the J2 palace; the killing of 90 Nuer civilians at the J2 Palace; the targeted killing of Nuer civilians in residential areas like Khor William, Munuki 107, Jebel area, Gudele area, Juba town; the targeted killing of Dinka and Nuer civilians from various communities in Bor and Malakal town by the SPLA and SPLA-in opposition, all offend the right to life, the Commission said.

Representatives of the rebels and the government of South Sudan on 22 December 2015 held their first meeting aimed at ending a civil war in the country. The two sides, which signed a peace agreement in August 2015, met in the capital, Juba, in the hope of forming a transitional government of national unity. The government and rebel factions had been holding peace talks on and off since shortly after the conflict began in mid-December 2013. Several cease-fires agreed to in the past two years were violated.

The Bank of South Sudan devalued its currency by 84 percent in December when it got rid of its fixed exchange rate, in a move designed to curb the losses triggered by the declining global price of crude oil. The bank's decision quickly triggered hyperinflation in the market, boosting the consumer price index to 109.9 percent in December, which reflected a 13.7 percent increase from the previous month.

Less than two thirds of South Sudanese parliament members voted on 19 NOvember 2015 to approve constitutional amendments to create 28 new states, creating uncertainty about the future of President Salva Kiir's plan to sub-divide the existing 10 states along ethnic lines. Article 197 of the constitution says that it may not be amended unless by a vote of two-thirds of all members of each House of the National Legislature sitting separately.

President Salva Kiir's nearly tripling of the number of regional states in December 2015 undermined a fundamental pillar of an August power-sharing deal. Calling the countrys existing 10 states defunct, Kiir said hed replaced them with 28 new ones. He appointed 28 new governors to run them, he said all loyal to him. Rebel leader Riek Machar opted out of the initial deadline for the implementation of the deal, citing Kiir's unilateral decision to divide the country into three regions comprising twenty eight states. One notable change was the division of the hitherto ethnically mixed Jonglei State into smaller ethnic enclaves.

The May 2014 peace deal with the Cobra Faction provides that the chief administrator and de facto governor of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area shall be a nominee of the Cobra Faction. The Christmas decrees broke up Unity State and Upper Nile State, which the August 2015 peace deal said must be ruled by SPLM-IO nominated governors. Kiir instead divided these two states into six parts, appointing his own loyalists in each of the new, smaller states.

President Kiirs creation of the 28 states which divided the former Upper Nile state into three new ethnic states of Eastern Nile (Dinka), Western Nile (Shilluk) and Latjor (Nuer) annexed lands to the Dinka community. Eastern Nile state, which was curved from the former Upper Nile state by the decree, was given all the oil producing areas including the state capital, Malakal. Governor Balok, a Dinka and former deputy chief of general staff in the South Sudanese army (SPLA), said since the Shilluk and the Nuer tribes do not belong to Malakal anymore and have their own states and new capitals, there was need to dismiss their civil servants from Malakal capital.

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Page last modified: 14-02-2016 20:11:16 ZULU