The International Community is Searching for the Solution to Stop the War in South Sudan

On  Monday 11  July 2016, in view of the deteriorating situation in South Sudan  and  in particular  in Juba  there were emergency meeting of  both  the UN  in New York  as  well as  of IGAD Council in  Nairobi.    

The IGAD Council  meeting held in Nairobi  was also  attended by the Troika  representatives of USA ( Ambassador HE  Nic  Hailey), UK ( High Commissioner HE Robert Godec), Norway (Royal  Norwegian Charge D’Affairs HE  Vebojen Heines ); the Head of the EU Delegation to Kenya ( HE Stefano Dejak); Deputy  Head of Mission  Embassy of Italy to Kenya  and  Representative of the IGAD Partner  forum  ( Ms Angela Loi).

Following the meeting the IGAD Council issued the following statement:

  1. Condemns in the  strongest  terms  the  eruption  of  fighting  on 7th July 2016 between the Sudanese  People’s Liberation Army(SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA – IO) in  Juba and the huge  loss  of life and casualties as well  as the destruction of properties that  still continues unabated
  2. Further condemns the  targeting of the UN compound and attempts to prevent  civilian population from  getting protection
  3. Urges President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr Reik Machar to assume responsibility and  take immediate   measures to  prevail  upon  the respective  military leaders and  stop the fighting that continues  unabated in  Juba  and  may  soon  escalate to other  areas of South Sudan
  4. Underlines the importance of the leaders  assertion of the command and control of their respective  armed forces and  passing of continuous  messages  to the  general population for calm  and reconciliation

 And demands

  1. An immediate cease  fire
  2. Re-opening of the Juba International Airport  to be protected by UNMISS
  3. Immediate return of  all  armed  forces  and  weapons to their  barracks
  4. Opening of humanitarian corridors
  5. Urgent revision of the UNMISS mandate to  establish an intervention  brigade and increase number of  troops from the region to inter alia  secure  Juba
  6. Accountability of those responsible for the breakdown of law and order;  and
  7. Immediate implementation of the  security  arrangements  as  enshrined by the  ARCSS  ( IGAD Plus  Agreement on the  Resolution  of the  Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan)

Late on Monday 11 July 2016, friends and colleagues in Juba started to report that they could hear announcements on the streets of Juba of cease-fire  this  was  later officially confirmed by Brigadier General  Lul Ruai, the spokesperson for  the SPLA  who  read  the  Republican Order No 17/2016 signed  by President  Salva Kiir Mayardit on SSBC .

Today  ( 12 July  2016 )   the  UN Security  Council  plans   to meet  and discuss  recent events in South Sudan . It   is of  particular  relevance that in  preparation  for the  UN Security  Council  meeting the Secretary General Banki Moon is lobbying for the imposition of an immediate  arms  embargo,  additional  targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders  blocking the implementation of the Peace Agreement  , and the fortification of the UN mission  in the South Sudan   which  has in  fact been  the  target of  attacks  during  recent events.

Thought the ceasefire in  Juba  is most  welcome  the reality is that the IGAD Plus  Agreement on the  Resolution  of the  Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan ( ARCSS)   (also  known  as the Compromised Peace Agreement )  is in  tatters . This time the armed conflict was not limited to Juba, almost simultaneously armed clashes were reported in Wau, Torit, Bentiu, Lainya, Yei , Kajo Keji. Though it is not   possible to say  that there was a deliberated coordination it is clear that there is widening of the conflict throughout South Sudan. To address the situation that is now developing in South Sudan, there will be a need to seriously consider the meaningful inclusion and participation of Civil Society in the peace process. The  previous  attempt  of  involving  Civil Society  in discussion  held in  Ethiopia  was  very poor  and farcical

Juba  a  city barely  recovering from the horrific  events of  December 2013 is once  again   left  wounded, in mourning   and  fearful that the  perpetrators of the  recent violence will use the  lull  to  re-arm and regroup .   Today the  people   of South Sudan  are left with  many  unanswered  questions   that  can be  summed up  with the one  universal  question  – WHY ?

Civil Society Organisation  are once  again left to pick up the pieces,  Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation ( CEPO) , South Sudan   Peace and Reconciliation Commission  and others  are  calling for   national  mourning  as a means  not only to mourn  the dead but also  to regroup to fight for the only fight  worth  fighting  Peace For  South Sudan . Peace for the Children of South Sudan

Makeda Saba

The International Community is Searching the Solution to stop war in South Sudan



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

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



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?”;
“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

Eritrea:Sunday mornig coming dow