South Sudan: it is war again and the coup d’état is imminent

Juba, 10th July 2016

This week we watched the unravelling of the fragile peace process in South Sudan as violence, reminiscent of the events of December 2013 erupted in Juba.

On Friday 8th July 2016, while President Salva Kirr, First Vice President Riek Machar and   Second Vice President James Wani were meeting at the Presidential Palace, outside an armed confrontation erupted between the SPLA and SPLA-IO . Though the reason for the violence at the Palace is not yet known it may not be coincidental that at the same time there were rumours circulating in Juba that the meeting at the Palace was a ruse for the arrest of the First Vice President Riek Machar . The fighting at the Presidential Palace alone is reported to have resulted in the death of over 250 people civilians as well as SPLA and SPLA-IO soldiers as well as the displacement in Juba of over 3,000 people

Saturday 9th July , the day of commemoration of South Sudan 5th year of independence , appeared to be quiet. However , on Sunday 10th July, despite the reassurances given by South Sudan Foreign Affairs Minister Deng Alor, fighting in Juba resumed. Tanks and heavy artillery were seen moving from the Presidential Palace to Buluk towards the Jebel area. Heavy gunfire was reported in Gudele and Jebel areas, near the military barracks occupied by troops loyal to Riek Machar. Fighting took place near the airport. Kenya Airways has suspended flights to Juba and for the moment the Juba airport is closed. Agencies and organisations with offices in Juba are seriously considering downsizing and evacuations.

The fighting is the culmination of a rapid escalation of confrontation between the SPLA and the SPLA-IO, the latter complaining of harassment and provocation by elements of the SPLA. Of particular relevance in this regard is the fact that during the week there have been exchange of fire between the SPLA and SPLA-IO at check points ( Gudele) resulting the deaths   of both SPLA and SPLO-IO soldiers. Also relevant to the escalation are the killings, by unknown gunmen, of two SPLO-IO officers: Sgt Domach Koat Pinyine and LT Col George Gismella. And the view of the SPLO – IO that the SPLA is responsible for the killings and generally engaging in in process of provocations . During the period 7th  July 2016 to 10th July 2016 there have been shooting incidents outside of the UN house, the shooting of the USA Embassy vehicle with at least 7 diplomats on board as well as the deliberate shooting and wounding of Mr Salah Khaled the UNESCO.

Despite the renewed hope, after the Compromised Peace Agreement was signed in 2015 and after the arrival of Riek Machar in Juba in late April 2016 and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity, violence continues to drive South Sudanese from their villages and towns and disrupts their lives.

Insecurity, in South Sudan, threatens communities all the way from Kajo – Keji in the South to Malakal in the North. In recent month (i.e. June 2016) fighting in Wau , the capital city of the former Western Bahr El Gazal State forced an estimated 60,000 people to seek shelter in churches and make shift camps . All indications are that in Wau we are witnessing the development of an armed opposition group. On Thursday 8th July 2016, at the same time as there was fighting in Juba, there was heavy artillery fire in Wau town forcing hundreds of civilians to flee for their lives.

Though the Greater Equatoria region (Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria). like Western Bahr El Gazal , was not part of the conflict that started in December 2013, during the last three years the situation has dramatically changed. Augmented by a combination of a rise of old mistrust as well as such decisions as the removal, in August 2015 by President Salva Kiir, of both the Governor of Western Equatoria – Joseph Bangazi Bokasoro as well as the Governor of Central Equatoria Governor Major General Clement Wani.

In addition there is also the unilateral decision taken in October 2015 to establish a federation of 28 States – basically a division of South Sudan into Ethnic States. Though the SPLA-IO and other opposition groups have been arguing for the   creation of additional states and the establishment of a federal system, they were not consulted in the formulation of the 28 states. The unilateral formation of 28 states is a major issue confronting the Transitional Government of National Unity as the power sharing arrangements were designed based on the political configuration of ten states . The General perception, of the 28 state political configurations of South Sudan , is that such   states are established to suit the Salva Kiir Presidency and its constituency.

It is troubling to note that in the 8 months since the IGAD Plus sponsored Compromised Peace Agreement was signed ( August 2015) , the conflict areas in South Sudan have  actually expanded to in include Greater Bahr El Gazal   as well as the Greater Equatoria Region.

In the Greater Equatoria Region and in particular in the Western Part of Central Equatoria and in Western Equatoria the conflict has intensified and has resulted in the displacement of more than 100,000 people. The indications are that armed opposition groups have formed in the Greater Equatoria region (i.e. Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria, and Eastern Equatoria ) and that generally the SPLA–IO has capitalised on the situation by supporting such groups this has been evidenced by the whole discussion of cantonment armed groups in the Equatoria, and the support for such action that has been given by SPLA-IO and the establishment of such cantonment sites.

As I write this short article, reports are coming of the closure of the Juba /Yei road because of the fighting in Juba as well as of fighting in Otogo Payam in Yei River County (Central Equatoria)

In addition I am receiving strong and reliable indication that what is now happening in Juba may well be the start of a coup – we just do not know who is organising it – and that in various locations of the Greater Equatoria regions armed militia are poised to take control of major towns .

Makeda Saba

makedasaba@ymail.com

South Sudan: it is war again and the coup d’état is imminent

 

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Critical Review of PaanLuel Wël’s Political Theory of “Tribocracy”

By Amer Mayen Dhieu, Australia Introduction February 21, 2015 (SSB) —  I often argue that for a prospective scholar to be an effective political scientist, he/she has also to be a social scientist.…

Source: Critical Review of PaanLuel Wël’s Political Theory of “Tribocracy”

SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN

Sunday morning June 12, 2016 Eritrea and Ethiopia are fighting on the border in Tsorona. I am woken by frantic phone calls “did you hear the news? – there is fighting in Tsorona!” , “is it true?”, “what do you know?”
“No I have not heard the news. I have just woken up!”. “I do not know if it is true, let me check, you know how it is.?! —-it is difficult to trust what either Government says on such issue. Let us stay calm, there is no need to make a bad situation worse by panicking”.
The early morning wake up call, is followed by a frantic exchange on social media where everybody shares any and all news items on the particular event . I plough through these items and then remember friends and family members that may have people on the border so I call them “ how are your kids?” – “have you heard from them?” – inevitably the phone call ends with – “times are difficult” – “let us pray” and finally “if you hear something please let me know”.
Weeks after the event, we still do not know what happened .By the number of press releases that the Eritrean Government has issued ,at least 5, we do know that the fighting of 12 June 2016 was serious. The Eritrean press statements confirm that the fighting happened and typically that Ethiopia started it and that Ethiopia has suffered heavy casualties. There is no mention of the number of Eritrean casualties and yes, everything is the fault of the United States of America. The Ethiopian statements, were limited and predictably they blame the Eritreans for the fighting.
Hungry for information that in fact was not forthcoming, and is not forthcoming from either Government, we were all left to our imagination and our nightmares –
“did this latest conflict happen as an Eritrean effort , post UN Human right report ,to demonstrate to the world that Ethiopia is a real threat and that the never ending national service is justified?”;
or
“is this latest conflict an attempt by Ethiopia to warn the EU and other Western Powers that the Eritrean Government is dangerous and should not be trusted? And somehow deflect the focus on their own human right issues?”
Typically the truth, when it eventually surfaces, will be more complicated and nuanced than even what we can imagine. In the meantime time passes, the dust settles, the dead are buried, families grieve. The sun sets and the sun rises again ,night is followed by day life goes on and there is no solution for the conflict along the Eritrea /Ethiopia common border – the no war no peace status quo remains. In the meantime the Horn of Africa analyst dust out their Horn of Africa analysis and are busy reminding the world that the hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia, arose because of a border dispute, and that the continuation of hostilities have implications for the security and stability of the Horn of Africa region as both countries engage in a tit for tat – the enemy of my enemy is my friend diplomacy. The analysts refer to the 2010 Algiers Peace Agreement, specifically to the provision that the decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission is “Final and Binding” and they advocate for the guarantors of the Algiers Agreement to take measures to ensure that Ethiopia abides by the decision that Bademe is Eritrean Territory and withdraws from the area. This is possibly the only point of congruence between the Analysts and the Government of Eritrea.
I agree that, ideally, two Governments that agree on a mediation process to determine a dispute ,such is the case of the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia, should abide by that decision and use their best efforts to implement it and work towards long term reconciliation. I am also of the view that leadership of a nation requires the intelligence and flexibility to recognise when a policy/direction is not achieving the desired results and thus change direction .
In 2010, the words ‘Final and Binding” were written on paper, over time as the resolution of the border dispute stalled, these words have transformed themselves into a stone. They have become a stone around the necks of the Eritrean people. To these words ‘ Final and Binding ‘ a generation of Eritreans has been sacrificed . These words have drowned us and driven us from our land more effectively that any invading army. Final and Binding the epitaph on the tombstone of a lost generation of young Eritreans .Final and Binding, the insanity of the Eritrean leadership sticking for more than 14 years to a hard line policy, of not talking with Ethiopia, a policy that is not working . It is time to change the approach! It is time to talk! If we are all dead it will matter little that we were right and that the determination of the Border Commissions was Final and Binding.
The work that Eritrean Organisations, in the diaspora, are doing to inform and support the UN Commission of Human Rights, to support and mobilise communities and civil disobedience in Eritrea, to organise the protest marches that have taken place in New York and Geneva , as well ass the Stop Slavery and the Free Siemens Tshaie campaigns, clearly show that we have the capacity and the willingness to organise around specific issues. We must organise around the resolution of the Bademe impasse, just like we are organising around human rights and never ending national service.
We must demand that the Government of Eritrea, for the sake of the people of Eritrea, swallow it’s pride and engage in talks with Ethiopia to finally resolve not only the border issue but also the many details of how we can live in peace as neighbours . We must also demand that engagement with Ethiopia must be a policy of any Eritrean opposition hoping to win our support. We must remove this stone from our necks.

Makeda Saba
makedasaba@ymail.com

Eritrea:Sunday mornig coming dow