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South Sudan - 2016

Critics of South Sudans 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 2 years after Kiir fired Machar and the entire cabinet in July 2013.

On 19 February 2016 Ivan imonovic, 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 Sudans 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.

On 02 June 2016 South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, First Vice President and former rebel leader Riek Machar, and Vice President James Wani Igga met to talk about the remaining stumbling blocks impeding full implementation of the peace agreement. The three leaders discussed the demilitarization of Juba City, cantonment sites for SPLA-In Opposition forces in the three regions of Upper Nile, Equatoria and Bahr El Ghazal, and the dispute over the 28 states that Kiir unilaterally created last year. The leaders were to form a national committee to study proposed states and borders that are mutually agreeable. The committee is made up of 15 members: four from the SPLM, three from the SPLM-In Opposition, one from the former detainees, two from the political parties and three from the Troika countries of the United States, Britain and Norway. Tanzania and South Africa will also contribute two members.

Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal, is an ethnically mixed town of several groups including Fertit and Dinka who have a history of conflict. In the weeks preceding 24-25 June 2016, hostilities escalated, including a number of ambushes against the SPLA in which soldiers were killed. This appears to have triggered a massive attack on civilians in Wau town on 24-25 June 2016. On 24 June, Dinka groups from the eastern side of the Jur river attacked residents in the largely Fertit neighborhoods of Wau town. Severe fighting broke out between two youth armed groups and later Government forces including SPLA got involved.

Central Equatoria is predominantly home to the Bari-speaking Equatorian tribes. With the exception of Juba, most of the Central Equatoria State, including Yei, Lainya, and Kajo Keji Counties, remained relatively peaceful when the civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013. But by the end of 2015, SPLA-IO activity had started to increase in Central Equatoria, particularly in Yei and the surrounding areas. . Following the return of Riek Machar to Juba in April 2016, fighting erupted between government and opposition forces in Juba in July 2016.

The SPLA suffered numerous defections while SPLA-IO split into two factions in July 2016. The SPLA-IO split strengthened the SPLA, as the SPLA-IO (TD) supported the "government". The SPLA and the SPLA-IO demonstrated established hierarchical organisational structures that facilitated command and control and operational flexibility through the use of sectors, divisions, brigades and battalions. The majority of operations employ light infantry tactics, often with fire support from artillery and tanks. Priority was given to attack, and upon capture, little thought is given to defence against counter-attack. Inclusive planning, intelligence gathering and effective communication facilitate the exercise of command. Commanders on both sides made use of poorly trained and undisciplined militias, which they have chosen to exploit rather than control.

South Sudan turned five years old 09 July 2016. But instead of music, whistles and vuvuzelas as in past years, citizens heard gunshots. Late Friday, shooting erupted outside the presidential palace, soon engulfing the whole city. Upwards of 300 people were killed. It was the latest clash in a brutal civil war that broke out in 2013. Tens of thousands had been killed as forces of the president, Salva Kiir, fought those of his rival, the current first vice president, Riek Machar. Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer tribesman, fought each other in a two-year civil war.

Fighting raged for a fifth day across Juba on 11 July 2016, hours after the UN Security Council called on leaders in South Sudan to control their rival forces, and warned that ongoing attacks on civilians and UN facilities may constitute war crimes. Days of fighting between government and rebel forces killed at least 150 people and possibly as many as 300, and raised fears the country was sinking back into civil war.

On July 26, 2016 President Salva Kiir swore in a new deputy to replace opposition leader Riek Machar, who went into hiding after deadly clashes between his forces and government soldiers. South Sudans new first vice president is Machars former peace negotiator, General Taban Deng Gai, who also replaced Machar as head of the opposition party. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the former opposition secretary for foreign affairs, said Deng has the support of the entire SPLM-In Opposition. But Goi Jooyul Yol, SPLM-In Opposition representative to Ethiopia and the African Union, said Deng does not represent the entire former rebel movement.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera 28 July 2016, Riek Machar said he is "around Juba" and he is still first VP of South Sudan. Machar said: "I'm still the first vice president of the republic of South Sudan. The appointment made yesterday by President Salva Kiir is illegal. It has no basis because the peace agreement does not give him the powers to appoint a first vice president under the current circumstances."

Machar said that if the international community failed to intervene, he might order his followers to make a move to march towards Juba in the future. "I am waiting for the international community and regional body to say they will deploy troops to Juba ... But if they fail, this will be an indication that the whole agreement is forsaken by the international community and the regional body that brokered the peace agreement."

A report by a UN board of inquiry released on 05 August 2016 found that the UN mission failed "at all levels ... to manage the crisis effectively, leading to the negative effects of the incident." The inquiry also found that it was "highly likely" that the attack was planned or at least supported by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which is aligned with the South Sudanese government.

The UN human rights chief said that South Sudanese security forces had killed and raped civilians in the latest fighting. The South Sudanese government on 05 August 2016 decided to deploy a regional force to protect civilians. The decision came a month after fighting broke out between rival army factions and the release of a critical UN report. Mahboub Maalim, head of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said that the government had accepted a protection force "without any precondition," speaking in Juba after a meeting of regional heads of state. The force will protect civilians and help implement a peace deal, he said. Maalim said the timing of the deployment of the force will be determined after regional defense chiefs meet in the coming days, adding that the recently named first vice president, Taban Deng Gai, had agreed to step down if opposition leader Riek Machar returns to Juba.

Riek Machar fled to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo in mid-August 2016, where he may be ill or injured. Machar and a small group of people turned up in the DRC on 17 August 2016. Peacekeepers retrieved Machar and his group from the town of Dungu. The UN mission there, known as MONUSCO, was alerted to his presence and contacted the Congolese government. The government asked them to facilitate the groups transfer from an area near the DRC-South Sudan border to a location inside Congo.

By December 2016, SPLA-IO forces established a headquarters in Lasu and began guerrilla attacks against government installations and convoys from their locations in the bush and villages around Yei and Lainya Counties. A bitter guerrilla war followed, characterised by SPLA-IO ambushes and hit and run attacks countered by a punitive SPLA counter-insurgency.



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Page last modified: 09-08-2018 00:11:53 ZULU