South Sudan, the world’s newest nation has been plagued by civil war since December 2013. The political struggle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar has since seen the division of the Presidential guard. This has led to forces being divided along tribal lines, therefore, those who were from the Dinka ethnic group remained loyal to Kiir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and those from the Nuer ethnic group were pro-Machar, thereby, forming the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
This was then escalated into violence when President Kiir made the accusation that Machar had attempted a coup, resulting in Machar’s dismissal. These actions along, with the authoritarian nature of Kiir’s regime, have been met with anti-government protests from the public. The government response has been to enact violence, as security forces and government militias have targeted civilians along ethnic lines and have committed human rights abuses.
However, this conflict is more multifaceted than internal politics. Rather, it is also focused on the competition for primary resources, namely: land and pastures. Such resources have for years been tied to political power and ethnicity, therefore, gaining ownership over these resources have further fueled inter-communal violence.
Despite strong condemnation from both international and regional organisations such as the United Nations and the African Union, Kiir’s regime has continued to massacre civilians as they aim to reclaim territory from the opposition whilst denying any wrongdoing. This has resulted in notable atrocities such as the Juba Nuer massacre and the 2014 Bentiu massacre. Machar and his SPLM-IO have similarly been accused of violence against civilians, therefore both sides have contributed to the high death toll and the displacement of civilians.
With the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the threat of sanctions, the first peace agreement was signed in August 2015 between President Kiir and Machar. Subsequently, after two years living outside of the country, Machar returned to Juba in 2016 and was sworn back in as vice president. However, violence soon returned as conflict again broke out between the government and opposition forces. Machar fled the nation, leading to his detainment in South Africa. Following this failed peace agreement, between 2017-2018 a series of ceasefires have been both negotiated and violated such as the Khartoum Declaration and the Entebbe Proposal. These peace agreements failed to address the initial problems of:
1). Returning the district boundaries to the original 10.
2). Creating a unified national army.
3). The possibility of a third-party security force in Juba.
These challenges were expected to be addressed by the May 12th, 2019 deadline with the expectation of a Unity government by November 2019. However, the deadline has since passed. Instead, the two parties with the support from IGAD agreed to extend the deadline by another six months and have since reached the February 2020 deadline with Riek Machar being sworn in as Vice-President on February 22nd, 2020, thereby forming the Unity government.
The conflict has led to the deaths of over 300,000 individuals and has left some 4 million people displaced. Furthermore, the violence has induced famine within the nation as farmers were prevented from planting or harvesting crops thereby causing food shortages nationwide. Consequently, the longer the key actors stave off on rebuilding South Sudan, the more likely inter-communal violence will rage on, inducing more casualties and increasing the return of civil war.
Where: South Sudan
Deaths: Estimates are between 300,000 and 700,000
Refugees/Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs): 4.3 million
UN Personnel and Peacekeepers: 16,492
Once coming to power, President Kiir has been accused of seeking to preserve the Dinka hegemony in government. Additionally, he has been accused of poorly distributing resources, i.e. oil revenue and land among the 60 ethnic tribes, with Dinka, his tribe, benefiting the most. The 2013 Juba Massacre, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Nuer civilians, is usually seen as the best example of the negative impact of his ethnic-oriented rhetoric. Additionally, by re-dividing the ten states into 32 by January 2017, President Kiir increased the total land area controlled by Dinkas from 25% to 42%.
In December 2016, President Kiir initiated a National Dialogue aimed at finding a resolution to the conflict but undermined his efforts by allowing the military to carry out attacks on the opposition.
Salva Kiir retains his Presidency as he leads South Sudan’s new Unity Government.
An ethnic Nuer and the first Vice-President of South Sudan later became the rebel leader of the SPLM-IO throughout the civil war. Machar, who declared his intention to challenge the Presidency was dismissed by President Kiir and the whole cabinet was dissolved. Machar was then replaced with Taban Deng Gai the former SPLM-IO chief political negotiator.
Throughout the civil war, Machar has been leading the SPLM/IO along with allied militias and rebel groups in the fight against President Kiir to secure strategic and important resources and land.
During the civil war, Machar was forced to flee to the DRC and then South Africa after intense clashes with the South Sudanese military. However, since his exile Machar has returned to South Sudan where he and President Kiir have brokered a peace agreement, leading to Machar being sworn in as Vice-President on the 22nd of February creating the new Unity Government.
Originating as a guerrilla movement against the Sudan government in 1983, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, has since become the main army of South Sudan. As the nation’s army the group is loyal to President Salva Kiir and therefore, the Dinka tribe.
However, the SPLM/A also has outside supporters such as the Mathiang Anynoor – a militia group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – a social and militant group as well as by nations such as Uganda.
Since 2005 under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) has been merged with the SPLM/A.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM/IO) is the leading opposition rebel militia in South Sudan. Led by Riek Machar, the former Vice-President of South Sudan, the group became operational in 2014 following the split with the SPLM-IG in early 2013. Machar has cited the Juba Massacre as the catalyst for the creation of this armed force whose operations are housed in Pagak, in the Greater Upper Nile region.
The SPLMI-IO troops are predominantly supported by the Nuer ethnic group and other rebel groups such as the Nuer White Army Militia, the Arrow Boys, and the National Democratic Movement led by former Minister of Agriculture: Lam Akol. The SPLM-IO is also supported by regional nations such as Sudan and Ethiopia.
The principal demands of the SPLM-IO include:
– that President Kiir and those responsible for the Juba Massacre be held accountable and vacate their political/military positions
– for South Sudan to return to the original 10 states
– the expulsion of all foreign forces supporting President Kiir
Since the formation of the Unity Government in February 2020, it has been agreed that under the power-sharing deal the SPLM-IO will control the defence ministry.
The SPLM-IO will also nominate ministers for the ministries of petroleum, mining, water and irrigation, energy and dams, gender, federal affairs, peacebuilding, and health, along with deputy ministers for the ministries of finance, presidential affairs and interior.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is an East African regional organisation that aims to support regional processes relating to peace, prosperity, and regional integration. The countries which are included in IGAD to date are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. IGAD previously had been involved with the Sudan conflict since 1994 and therefore, became a mediator within the South Sudan civil war since its inception in 2013.
As a mediator, IGAD led 15-month long peace talk negotiations that culminated in the signing of the Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) in 2015. The process to reach this consensus were often hampered by the bias of African nations and their support to opposing sides of the conflict, e.g. Uganda openly supports the Kiir regime and has sent troops to support the SPLM/A while Ethiopia a nation which consists of Nuer tribes, therefore supports Machar and the SPLM-IO along with Sudan. Consequently, the regional ties have interfered with the processes of IGAD and have lent itself to the lack of compromise.
Consequently, the need to create an efficient way to mediate the peace process led to the formation of IGAD-PLUS which included AU, UN, EU, the Troika (US, UK, and Norway) and China in March 2015.
A UNSC resolution approves the creation of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 8th July 2011, a day before South Sudan gained its independence. The original mandate, which was approved to last one year, was to “consolidate peace and security, and help establish conditions for development in the Republic of South Sudan, with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbours.” A significant element of this included supporting the government’s efforts in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005).
After the Civil War broke out in December 2013, UNMISS could not operate as freely as they previously operated due to allegations that they were not a neutral force. The disdain for the UN was illustrated by the frequent demonstrations outside their compound in Juba and other places in the country. As the fighting intensified, UNMISS compounds in the country became places of refuge, with thousands of civilians attempting to force their way into the crowded space. The intensity of the conflict resulted in the expansion of the mandate and peacekeeping force as detailed in the UNSC resolution 2132 (2013). The new mandate stated that UNMISS focus is the protection of civilians, human rights, and contributing to the creation of security conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The United States has been a very active mediator of the South Sudanese Civil War, until Trump took office in January 2017. Before the civil war began, the US government was militarily supporting the South Sudanese government. The US government even sent specialists to train and advise the military. However, as the war continued and reports of potential war crimes and crimes against humanity allegations, the US began taking a strong stance against President Kiir’s government. Obama administration pushed for sanctions against officials of the South Sudanese government, both within the US and UN. Though the involvement of the US in the conflict is as strong under the Trump administration, they have at least maintained the script. Former US Ambassador to the UN, Nicki Haley voiced her concerns about president Kiir’s leadership during a trip to the country. In 2017, the US placed new sanctions against three South Sudanese nationals. Moreover, the US issued warning to American financial institutions that fail to comply with the economic sanctions by allowing sanctioned individuals to use their banks to launder money.
It has been with US diplomatic pressure in Feb 2020 that President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar reached the deadline for the formation of the Unity Government.
Timeline of the crisis
Refer to the UNMISS section in the key stakeholders to learn more
Sudanese people voted overwhelmingly voted in favour of independence during a national referendum between 9 and 15 January 2011. South Sudan formally became an independent country on 9th July, a move that was celebrated throughout the world. The independence of South Sudan was seen as a new era of peace and stability for the people the South Sudanese people. South Sudan and Sudan still contest the boundaries of their respective countries, with the Abyei region as the most contentious.
The Pibor Massacre occurred when heavily armed fighters from the Luo Nuer ethnic group advanced towards Pibor town which is inhabited with their rival ethnic group, the Murle. The two tribes have been clashing for decades in which each tribe is destroying large pieces of land and raids cattle. Right before the massacre, peace talks between the two tribes had failed. UN peacekeepers and government soldiers could not stop the Nuer fighters as they were outnumbered. Additionally, the terrain of Pibor town, which is rugged, isolated and surrounded by thick forests and swamps, made efforts to help the villagers harder. As a result of the massacre, over 3000 people, mostly from the Murle tribe, were murdered, and 1000 children abducted. Over 370,000 cattle were also stolen. The Pibor Massacre is considered one of the worst and brutal ethnic massacres recorded.
Before the Civil War began, tension Kiir and Machar was increasingly growing. As a result, President Kiir began reorganising the senior leadership, which included reshuffling of the Cabinet and security agency personnel, with individuals loyal to him. In total, 36 people lost their jobs and were replaced by Kiir supporters. Additionally, 117 generals were forced to retire.
President Kiir fires Machar from his position as First Vice President, along with his entire Cabinet. Analysts say the reasoning behind the firing of Machar was due to a power struggle between the two leaders. Machar’s decision to announce his decision to run for the 2015 election sparked the internal struggle. The previous day, the president had issued a decree where he dismissed all deputy ministers. Following the dismissal of all major government officials, the government was technically being run by under-secretaries until further notice. The monopoly of the power vested in the presidency allows the president to dissolve national and state legislatures, dismiss ministers and vice president, elect state governors and judges. Due to the unpredictability of the announcement, security forces were deployed throughout Juba, though the city remained relatively calm.
The precursor of the South Sudanese Conflict is the accusation from President Kiir that FVP Machar had attempted to stage a coup. Following the accusation, nine suspected conspirators were arrested. VP Machar denied the allegations.
Juba Nuer massacre was a consequence of the accusations that VP Machar had attempted to plan a coup against president Kiir. Dinka members of the military killed over 500 Nuer civilians in the capital city of Juba. Over 20,000 civilians fled to the UN compound for safety. The aftermath of the Juba Nuer massacre was a mass defection from the government with many Nuer military soldiers and personnel leaving SPLM/A to join SPLM-IO. Additionally, ethnically Nuer militias such as the Nuer White Army pledged allegiance to SPLM-IO.
The fighting between the government and opposition forces in Jonglei state was devastating. Both sides and militias loyal to each side staged revenge attacks on each other, killing thousands of the civilians. The displacement of civilians fleeing from violence forced the president to declare a state of emergency. The stalemate between the two sides prolonged the conflict. UN peacekeepers were not spared in the attacks. An attack on the UN base resulted in the deaths of 2 Indian peacekeepers.
Resolution 2132 (2013) increased UNMISS military component up to 12,500 and 1323 police to form Formed Police Units
Refer to the IGAD section in the key stakeholders
Bentiu Massacre occurred when the SPLM-IO fighter killed approximately 400 civilians following capturing Bentiu from government forces. According to UN human rights investigator, the rebel fighters went throughout the town, killing anyone whom they believed did not support them. They did not spare those civilians who had sought refuge in religious places such as mosques and churches. It is believed that some of the victims of the massacre were traders from the Sudan and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) soldiers.
Riek Machar and SPLM-IO denied responsibility for the attack, claiming that the government staged the massacre and blamed them for the attack.
UNSC imposed sanctions on six generals accused of fuelling the South Sudanese conflict. The sanctions targeted three generals from the government, including the commander of president Kiir’s Special Guard, Major General Marial Chanuong Yol Mangok, and three from the opposition including Maj Gen Simon Gatwech Dual, the Chief of General Staff of the opposition forces.
The IGAD statement said that forces loyal to President Kiir, including the military, have conducted military offensives in five of the nine countries in the oil-rich Unity state. The aim of the offensive, according to IGAD, is to increase territorial gains into Jonglei and Upper Nile states. Credible reports say acts of violence targeting civilians, human rights violation/abuses and destruction of villages have occurred. South Sudanese government denied the allegations
The Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) called for the creation of a power-sharing unity transitional government that would be in place for 30 months. During the 30 months, the unity government was expected to “ensure justice, accelerate constitutional reform, improve economic and political govern ace, and reconcile society.” The document also called for a permanent ceasefire, transitional security arrangements. The new agreement was meant to be the foundation for the peace process since once the unity government is created, the path towards demilitarisation of both sides, and possibility the creation of a unity military, would begin. Despite the high hopes, the ceasefire was short lived as both sides continued to fight.
In another attempt to use political agreement to bring about the end of the conflict, President Kiir reappoints Machar as the FVP, as part of the new peace accord. The move by President Kiir comes after Machar returns to the Juba after fleeing the country following heavy clashes between his and the president’s supporters. He maintained his position for a mere two months before he was once again sacked. Following the decision, Machar once fled the country. It is reported that the government forces pursued him by helicopter gunship to kill him.
As soon as Machar was fired for the second time, protests broke out. The clashes resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300 people, predominantly civilians within four days in Juba. A Chinese peacekeeper was among the killed. The killings come as South Sudan was supposed to celebrate its fifth anniversary since independence.
Many analysts say that President Kiir appointed Gen Taban as first Vice President in an attempt to divide SPLM-IO, i.e. divide and conquer. If this is the case, it means that President Kiir is intentionally trying to prolong the conflict since he was trying to create tension within SPLM-IO. Irregardless of his actions, most of SPLM-IO supporters remained loyal to Machar rather than Taban, including the military/rebel element of the party.
Kenya withdrew its troops once the commander of the UNMISS, Lt Gen Johnson Magoa Kimani Ondieki was dismissed from his position by Ban Ki-moon, then the UN Secretary General. The decision came after a damming report was published showing that the UN mission failed to protect civilians in Juba during the July violence which were sparked by the firing of Machar from his position as First Vice President. The report stated that, during the July clashes, peacekeepers abandoned their posts, and failed to respond to pleas for help from aid works under attack near the UN compound
Following a ten-day fact-finding mission to South Sudan, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan stated that the process of ethnic cleansing is well underway in the country. The report adds that starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages are being used to maximise the effects of ethnic cleansing. In addition to ethnic cleansing and division between various tribes, there is an increase of hate speech and a crackdown on the media and civil society. The report also stated that if the world does not act, what happened in Rwanda is going to happen in South Sudan. The commission recommends that the government set up a hybrid court which was promised to the south Sudanese nationals by the government.
In December 2016, President Kiir initiated a National Dialogue aimed at finding a resolution to the conflict. As part of the process, he offered amnesty to rebels and asked them to return to the capital city of Juba. Some analysts say that he announced the national dialogue to change the narrative from the UN report detailing ethnic cleansing. Regardless of his motives, by January 2017, a dozen SPLM-IO officials had defected to government forces. However, he undermined his own efforts by allowing the military to carry out attacks on the opposition.
UN expresses concern over the declaration of famine in parts of the country with over 100,000 people on the brink of starvation. The acting US State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner, stated that the crisis is man-made since it is a direct result of the conflict and obstruction of humanitarian access.
After former Deputy Head of Logistics Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka left SPLM-IG, he created his group, the National Salvation Front (NAS or NSF). By the end of March 2017, NAS, which mostly operated in Equatoria state, immediately got new defectors from SPLM-IO including; 1) Commander in Wester Gahr al-Ghazal Area General Faiz Ismail Futur, 2) six SPKM-IO governors from Equatoria region, 3) Head of Cobra Faction Khalid Boutros, and 4) Commander of Central Equatoria state John Kenyi Loburon. Many of the defectors claimed the division among clan lines was the reason for leaving SPLM-IO. The creation of NAS shifts the conversation about the conflict in South Sudan since NAS has increasingly become an active opposition group, distinct from SPLM-IO. The more influence NAS got, not only did they pose a threat to the current government but also the international community needed to pay attention to their actions and involve them in the peace process.
In a presidential announcement, President Kiir not only does he declare a unilateral ceasefire on the ongoing civil war but also promises to release political prisoners. His efforts were met with scepticism since he had previously declared ceasefires and promised to release prisoners but never followed through with it.
Following the failure of the previous ceasefire and peace agreement in 2015, IGAD did not take a backseat to the conflict. In a communique, IGAD calls upon all parties of the South Sudanese conflict to take urgent steps to draw concrete plans and timelines to compensate for the delay and the revitalise the full implementation of the ARCSS. To ensure that this new process succeeds, IGAD needs to ensure that the two main sides, SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO, agree to security arrangements in Juba, the integration of rebels into the national army and redrawing the district borders. These three issues dictate whether renewed efforts will succeed.
The Pagak Offensive was an aggressive push from the South Sudanese government to take rebel stronghold of Pagak and wider Maiwut county which is near the Ethiopian border. The offensive led to thousands of people to flee the area. The opposition forces attempted to repel the advancement of the government forces but were unable to do so.
The government denied the existence of the operation, stating that the military push in Pagak was the work of the new Vice President Taban Deng Gai. It was not until the SPLA retook Pagak and Maiwut county did the government admit the operation
A UN report says that 1 million refugees have entered Uganda since the conflict in South Sudan began in 2013. The report details that approximately 1800 South Sudanese arrive in Uganda daily in the past year alone.
Renewed efforts to bring about the end of the conflict has brought initial success with both SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO agreeing to a ceasefire. The ceasefire aims to revive the 2015 IGAD-led peace process that had collapsed. The progress was welcomed by the international community.
The smaller opposition groups combine forces to create the South Sudan Opposition Alliance in an attempt to get a seat at the negotiation table. The alliance involves National Salvation Front (NAS/NSF), National Democratic Movement (NDM), Federal Democratic Party/ South Sudan Armed Forces (FDP/SSAF), People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A), South Sudan National Movement of Change (SSNMC), South Sudan Patriotic Movement/Army (SSPM/A), South Sudan United Movement/Army (SSUM/A), and United Democratic Republican Alliance (UDRA).
Note: Though the alliance is still operational, the alliance has faced many internal struggles for power, causing some of the original founding members to leave and create other opposition groups.
In the new report, the UN claims that between the specified period, 232 civilians were killed, 120 women and girls raped
Note: the report also mentioned the violations that the opposition has committed but at a far less extent
The Khartoum Declaration, which is the Declaration of Agreement on a Permanent Ceasefire, was able to reduce fighting between the two warring sides for the time being.
After the failed attempted in 2016, the United States has successfully gathered votes to pass a UNSC arms embargo on South Sudan. The terms of the arms embargo dictate that all Member states must prevent arms and related equipment of all types, including weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and any spare parts, from entering South Sudan. The arms embargo also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze against two new individuals.
The move by President Kiir was condemned by SPLM-IO and SSOA. Ultimately, on July 12th, the parliament accepted the proposal and President Kiir’s presidency is extended until 2021. The extension to President Kiir’s presidential term is problematic since it shows that he is uninterested in leaving office. This becomes an issue because it will be unpredictable, and possibly prolong the conflict if he either does not become president in the unity government or losses future elections.
Like all previous peace agreements, the Entebbe proposal, the new power-sharing deal, proposed the appointment of four vice presidents with Machar as First Vice President (FVP). The signing of the agreement is both positive and negative. On the positive sign, it shows that both sides are willing to come to the negotiation table and discuss a way to end the conflict, which has slowed the fighting. However, on the negative side, since the new agreement did not address the key issues such as third-party security force in Juba, unity military and redrawing of the districts, there is a high likelihood that at a later stage, issues will arise, causing the fighting to continue.
Note: other opposition groups rejected the deal since the new system did not restrict President Kiir’s legislative and executive, one of the reasons why the civil war began in the first place,
Rebel leader Riek Machar returns to South Sudan for the first time since he fled the country more than two years ago. He travels to Juba to demonstrate the strength of the Khartoum agreement.
The new peace treaty, spearheaded by former Sudan president, Omar al-Bashir, was signed in Addis Ababa. This would be the 12th peace agreement that these two leaders have signed between them. The peace deal details the creation of a new unity government, meant to be formed in May 2019. Before the unity government is created, the peace deal stated that interim benchmarks had to be met first. These benchmarks included 1) the unification of the national army and 2) the redrawing of internal boundaries, i.e. reducing the 32 states created by President Kiir to the original ten states. Another aspect of the deal that is being discussed is the use of a third-party protection force in Juba to allow the return of opposition leaders and supporters to the city.
Note: The peace deal is extremely fragile since both sides are unwilling to make drastic compromises to ensure that the three main points are addressed before the intended creation of the unity government in May 2019
Note: Out of the nine groups that are part of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), six signed on to the new peace agreement. Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka (SAN or SNF), Hakim Dario (PDM) and Gatweth Thich (UDRA) did not sign the peace agreement.
Reports claim that thousands of civilians have fled the region due to the brutality by government forces.
- IGAD Special Envoy Ismail Wais met with Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo (NAS/NSF) and Hakim Dario (People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in an attempt to bring all the warring parties to the table. Without the signature of all the essential rebel groups to the peace treaty, the fighting will likely continue.
Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, briefed the UNSC where he expressed concern with the delayed implantation of the three areas agreed upon in the peace agreement, 1) delineation of internal state boundaries, 2) creation of a unified army and 3) ensuring the security of returning opposition leaders. These concerns are valid since these three issues are the reasons why each peace treaty has failed.
Paul Malong, South Sudan United Front (SSUF/A) leader, and Lt General Cirillo (SAN or SNF) did not sign the 12 September peace agreement. IGAD Special Envoy, Ismail Wais, met with them in an attempt to convince him to lay down arms and join the peace agreement. Malong, in a joint statement with IGAD, expressed willingness to negotiate with the government. The meeting with Lt Gen Cirillo was not fruitful. Both opposition leaders and their groups are still fighting against government forces and pro-government militia groups.
During the meeting with President Kiir and Riek Machar at the Vatican, Pope Francis encouraged the two leaders to pursue a path of peace.
- During the meeting with President Kiir and Riek Machar at the Vatican, Pope Francis encouraged the two leaders to pursue a path of peace.
Powerful South Sudanese opposition commander, Peter Gatdet Yak, died in Sudan following a heart attack. Yak switched his alliance several times, supporting various opposition groups in the country. Before he died, he created his own militia, South Sudan United Movement (SSUM), operating in his home region of Unity.
Italian government pledged to support the implementation of the South Sudanese peace deal, according to S. Sudan Ambassador to Italy. The pledge was made following a meeting between President Kiir and the Italian Prime Minister during his trip to Rome.
Authorities in Boma state stated that its security forces had rescued seven children abducted from neighbouring communities. The state deputy governor said, “two boys were handed over to the Jonglei and Kapoeta authorities so that they are united with their parents. And we speak now; we recovered five of eleven children abducted from Bieh state. They are with the commissioner of Likuangole.”
Opposition leader, Machar, expressed his reservation about the creation of the Republican Guard, a 700-strong VIP protection force and its command. The deputy military spokesperson of SPLM-IO said that the command of the proposed presidential guard to be left to the Joint Defense Board (JDB), not the army commander in chief, who currently is allied to president Kiir.
Families of Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idri Ezbon were briefed by UN officials who confirmed that both were killed in Luri on 30 January 2017. Dong, a renowned human rights lawyer, and Aggrey, an human rights activist, were allied to opposition leader Machar. Both activists disappeared from Nairobi on 23 and 24 January 2017 following arrests from S. Sudan National Security officers who were assisted by their embassy in Nairobi, according to the UN inquiry. The family members say that they were not told where they were buried or dumped. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued statements in 2018 that they have interviewed witnesses who place both men in National Security Services detention centre in Juba on January 25 and 26 2017.
The South Sudanese government denied any responsibility in the disappearance and killing of Dong and Aggrey, adding that the allegations of their involvement are baseless. The spokesperson said that “if someone is arrested in Kenya for a reason known to the authorities, then the responsibility lies with Kenya.”
SPLM-IO commented on the revelation of the killings of Dong and Aggrey. They are calling on the government to prosecute all those involved in the kidnapping and murder of the activists.
The confirmation of the killings of Dong and Aggrey was met with sadness by both local and international rights organisation. Sudd Institute, a local organisation, issued a statement expressing their condolences and sympathies to the family.
With the May 12 deadline fast approaching, President Kiir and Reik Machar agree to a six-month extension to form a new government as critical issues have not been iron-out. The new deadline is November 12th. Matters that are yet to be agreed upon are the unification of the army and internal boundaries after creation of new states. David Sheare, Head of UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the new extension gives both parties time to achieve the agreed-upon benchmarks and make peace a reality. Though President Kiir accepted the six-month extension, he voiced his concern that six months will not be enough time to deal with all the issues.
Human Rights Watch report claims that government soldiers have carried out extensive abuse against civilians between December 2018 and March 2019. The report claims soldiers shot at civilians, looted extensively, burned homes and crops, and chased thousands of residents from their villages. HRW also has document accounts of rape and sexual violence by soldiers. Yei River state has been home to battles between government forces and opposition group National Salvation Front (NAS) forces.
South Sudan High Court found prominent activist Peter Biar Ajak and prominent businessman Kerbino Wol guilty of inciting uprising and public disorder, banditry, sabotage and possession of firearms respectively. Wol wa sentenced to 13 tears in prison while Ajak was sentenced to two years
A committee tasked with constitutional amendment said they have agreed on a provision that would strengthen checks on abuse of power by the National Security Service (NSS). Currently, the national security laws give excessive powers to security forces including arrest without a warrant, and seizure of property connected with crimes or offences against the state.
Machar’s SPLM-IO said they had released 15 prisoners of war detained in New Fangak. They were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who will transport them to Juba.
A surge in violence in central Equatoria region results in the death of 100 civilians since the peace deal was signed in September 2018, according to the UN. In the same period, 35 people were wounded, and 197 others abducted. Fifty-six thousand residents have been forced to flee their homes and another 20,000 have fled to Uganda.
Opposition leader Machar set conditions for his return to Juba for peace deal talks. According to the spokesperson of SPLM-IO, Machar would like the terms of his house arrest lifted by IGAD, and for Sudan’s military leader to accompany him to the talks.
Kiir’s government has responded to Machar’s conditions for return, saying that they are unrealistic. The president’s spokesperson said that the government does not see the need for the conditions. He said that the government could not ask regional leaders to lift the house arrest.
UNSC strongly condemned attack on 16 July on UN peacekeepers in Abyei by unknown assailants. The incident, which took place at the Amiet market, resulted in the death of one peacekeeper and five civilians and a peacekeeper were severely injured.
In a statement, the US embassy urged the Kiir government to release political prisoners if there are no charges placed against them. The statement went on to say that their request is based on South Sudanese law that obligates the government to charge defendants promptly rather than jail them indefinitely.
Hope for Humanity Africa, and Pan African Lawyers Union have sued Kenyan and South Sudanese governments for their role in the abduction and subsequent murder of Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idri. The case was submitted to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) housed in Tanzania. Both countries have received summons to appear before the court. The court gave both countries 45 days to appear before the tribunal.
In a statement, National Salvation Front (NAS) accuse South Sudanese military, and their allied militias, of carrying out attacks on its position. The statement said that NAS responded in self-defence after the military attack their passion in Loka West. The confrontation between the two sides resulted in the death of two national soldiers. The statement provided a secondary incident where they claim the national army attacked their passion in the same area. The spokesperson of the national army said they needed time to gather information about both incidents before they could comment.
Senior Commander of the opposition South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), Brig. Gen. Michael Piol, along with 54 SSUA soldiers, have been captured in Lol state. The arrest of Commander came after a fierce battle between both sides in Deleiba area. SSUF spokesperson said that he was unaware of the clashes and the arrest of the Commander and soldiers.
National Salvation Front (NAS), led by General Thomas Cirilo, accuse government forces of attacking their positions in different parts of Equatoria region. The spokesperson of NAS said that the government forces attacked their ‘defensive’ positions in Lainya and Mukaya areas. He alleges that the confrontation led to two of their own soldiers being injured and 20 government soldiers dying. The government confirmed the clashes but said NAS forces attacked government forces.
Exiled opposition leader, Riek Machar, arrived in Juba to attend a face-to-face meeting with President Kiir to discuss all the outstanding issues so that a new peace deal can be signed on the agreed date of 12 November. Machar was accompanied by Lt. General Hamdan Daglo, a member of Sudanese Sovereign council. Three main issues are slowing down the peace process; 1) security allocation, 2) number of states, and 3) boundaries of the states. The six-point agreement stated; 1) all 40 cantonments for the SPLM-IO forces should start operating immediately, 2) all VIP protection must be put under cantonment where they will undergo registration, screening, selectin and unification before training, 3) President Kiir’s elite security, Tiger Division, will be treated like any other armed force unit and will be subjected to screening and registration, 4) a new unit, Republican Guards, will be created and its purpose will be protecting opposition leaders and half of the force with being SPLM-IO forces, and 5) DDR commission to be created.
Newly appointed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok arrived in Juba for his first official visit since becoming premier. He is set to meet President Kiir, where they hope to discuss several matters. Former President of Sudan Bashir attempted to broker a peace deal between the rivals before being ousted and PM Hamdok hopes to pick up where he left. This is critical since Machar is exiled and lives in Khartoum. As a result of the meeting, the two countries agreed to reopen border crossing to boost trade and allow movement of communities on both sides.
Major General James Ochan Puot, a top commander of Machar’s SPLM-IO defected to government forces, along with other military officials. The defections came after weeks of fighting between the two sides in Adar state, sometimes known as Maiwut state. The commander said that he defected because SPLM-IO was intentionally targeting women and children.
The European Union has pledged $10.4 Million to World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan to help with humanitarian aid. Following years of conflict and repeated crop failure and floods, South Sudanese have suffered from hunger crisis which has left at least 700,000 vulnerable people at risk. 520,000 people are expected to receive cash assistance to buy food and basic commodities
The US announced that two South Sudanese businessmen would face sanctions over claims of corruption and procurement fraud. The two businessmen, Ashraf Seed Ahmed al-Cardinal and Kur Ajing Ater Ajing, are accused of “involvement in bribery, kickbacks and procurement fraud with senior government officials in South Sudan.” Five companies belonging to al-Cardinal and one belonging to Ajing are also part of the sanctions list.
UNSC extended the mandate modification for the UN interim security force for Abyei (UNISFA) until November 15, 2019. Resolution 2024 (2011) established the UNSIFA which is a UN peacekeeping force in Abyei, a contested area between South Sudan and Sudan
Exiled opposition leader, Reik Machar, arrived in Juba for peace talks with President Salva Kiir. Some members of the UN security council, as well as members of the Machar’s SPLM-IO, will also be present in the meetings. The talks are expected to address challenges faced while revitalising peace deal including implementation of security arrangement, and number of states and the internal boundaries of those states. The clock is ticking as the two leaders are expected to reach an agreement by the 12 November deadline.
President Kiir declared a state of emergency in parts of the country to deal with flooding that has affected more than a million people. Floods have affected Bahr el-Ghazal and Upper Nile regions. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Preparedness, Hussein Maar Nyuot, “the impact of the floods on livelihoods of our people is that farms are completely washed out. So there is serious crop failure and their houses and homesteads are completely submerged underwater.”
At least ten youths have been arrested by South Sudan security forces who were attended an event organised by Gorgial authorities in Juba. The secretary-general of Gogrial Intellectual’ Union claimed that some of their members were beaten badly by the police while being arrested. The area’s minister of Information confirmed the arrest, adding that the youth were wrongly criticising the state government on social media.
Leaders of the South Sudan Opposition Movement (SSOM) this week met with leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic association dedicated to social services. The two sides discussed the current crisis in South Sudan and how to reach a common understanding on the way forward. SPLM-IO, who sent two members to the discussion, held sideline meetings with SSOM leadership
Daniel Zingifuaboro, the spokesperson of the opposition South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC), resigned from his position. He said that the group developed a “naïve political strategy and abandoned its good intentions.” He went further to say the group is “engaging in cheap politics of hatred and division.” Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, the chairman of SSNMC, called the statements from the resigned officials as false, adding that Zingifuaboro is in Europe and doesn’t really understand the realities on the ground.
Officials in Bieh state confirmed that four people were killed, including two women, while two others were injured, and another five children were abducted by armed assailants in separate attacks in the state. In the abduction incident, the armed men, in fact, abducted ten but five children managed to escape and find their way home. Though the Boma state information minster acknowledges the situation, the information minister of the state denied knowledge of the incident.
In a UN Panel of Experts report, the Kiir government recruited at least 10,000 fighters from the former Warrap State, contrary to provisions of the peace agreement. The troops have been training since August, receiving infantry and urban warfare training, according to the report. The UN Experts concluded that President Kiir had exhibited no intention of relinquishing key security powers retained by the National Security services, which operate unchecked.
In a communique issued at the end of the 13th ordinary IGAD meeting in Addis Ababa, IGAD called on the international community to “lift the crippling economic sanctions imposed on Sudan and South Sudan to enable them to rebuild their economies.” The communique came after a rigorous discussion about the S. Sudan peace agreement where they encouraged parties to accomplish the pre-transitional talks.
Armed men stormed Relief International’s compound in south Sudan and assaulted several staffers. It is unclear who carried out the attack. South Sudan army spokesperson said the government is unaware of the attack. Rights groups that deal with South Sudan have called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation and arrest the culprits.
Government and opposition negotiators belonging to the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) concluded a three-day meeting without any resolution, South Africa envoy to South Sudan told the press. The two sides agreed to meet again after ten days to resume talks. Each side had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the number of states and their boundaries, a contentious issue that has resulted in peace agreement from moving forward. The IBC is composed of 15 members belonging to the two main opposition groups, who are supported by five experts nominated by member states of the AU high-level Ad-Hoc committee on South Sudan (South Aric, Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda)
Intercommunal clashes in Western Lakes states had led to 67 deaths and 100 injuries according to the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC). Many of the injured were airlifted to Juba to receive further medical attention
Opposition leader Machar is expected to arrive in Juba for talks with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir today. Both leaders meeting to iron out agreements that will allow for the peace deal to be finalised. The exiled leader was in the country six-day prior for a three-day meeting about boundaries and state formation, but no resolution was agreed upon.
Following talks in Juba, President Salva Kiir states that he and Riek Machar have agreed to uphold the cease-fire and form a transitional unity government by February, even if the two parties have not resolved their disputes by that time.
As a demonstration of goodwill and a commitment to the stalled peace process President Kiir pardoned thirty-one prisoners.
Tibor Nagy the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs places pressure on South Sudan leaders to form a unity government in preparation for the 22nd of February deadline. Stating that the Trump administration is willing to work with the Sudanese and that it is “absolutely possible for South Sudan to have a peaceful transition this year”.
The pro-Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition releases 78 women and 50 children who had been held for many months in military bases. These women and children were amongst the 500 abducted between April and August 2018.
President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar agree to establish a coalition government two days before the official deadline during peace talks in Juba.
After failing to reach two deadlines in the past year, a transitional coalition is formed in the capital Juba, with Riek Machar being sworn in as deputy to President Salva Kiir.
Calls for the UN security council to extend an arms embargo in South Sudan after observer’s reported that both government and opposition forces had illegally bought new weapons in direct contravention of restrictions.
Intercommunal violence breaks out in the eastern state of Jonglei between the Murle and Lour Nuer tribes. The violence has left nearly 300 people dead including 3 aid workers.
Hundreds of South Sudanese protest after a soldier who has been identified as the cousin of President Salva Kiir, was involved in the killing of five civilians in the capital city. The incident was sparked by a land dispute.
Mabior Garang de Mabior resigns from his position as the Deputy Minister of the Interior to protest the government’s failure to implement the peace agreement. He declined to take part in the transitional government of President Salva Kiir stating that “there is no peace, and therefore there is no benefit in serving in a government that does not implement peace. I cannot do anything in a government that was formed illegally”.
South Sudan has delayed the graduation of the unified forces due to logistical and financial constraints. These forces are a crucial part of the security arrangement under the 2018 peace deal. At least 83,000 unified forces are expected to form the national army.
Former governors from South Sudan’s now abolished states have threatened to stage a rebellion due to the delays in receiving their retirement packages.
Following the implementation of the second peace agreement, the nation reverted back to the original 10 states abolishing 32 states in the process. In doing so, President Kiir passed a Presidential Decree directing the finance minister to handle the lump sum retirement packages for the affected officials in three months.
The affected group have since sent four representatives to the deputy minister of finance to discuss the arrangement of the funds.
The unity government of South Sudan under President Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar have reached a deal regarding the selection of governors for the nations 10 states. This issue has been seen as the biggest threat to peace since the formation of the new government.
President Kiir’s side will nominate governors for six states including the oil-rich Unity State and Central Equatoria, which includes the capital Juba. Machar’s side will nominate governor’s for three states which includes the largest oil-producing area, the Upper Nile State and a third party to the peace deal, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance will nominate the governor for Jonglei State.
Kerbino Wol former philanthropist, entrepreneur and soldier was killed by government forces in Rumbek East County. The Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai said Wol and two fighters were killed in the Ayen Mayar Village after a four-day offensive launched by his rebel group the October 7th Movement.
South Sudan has been suspended from the African Union as it has failed to honour its financial obligations over the past three years leading to a debt of over $9 million.
According to Hakim Edward, deputy Foreign Affairs spokesperson, South Sudan’s membership remains intact, however the country cannot partake in meetings.
South Sudan’s civil war has severely affected and drained government and economic resources resulting in the numerous unpaid debts to many of the regional and international bodies it subscribes to.
The disputes commenced following the decision of the High Court, ordering one of the warring communities to pay compensation to a rival community after one of its members was killed. The total number of people killed in Warrap and Lake state is reported to be over 51 people with several others wounded. The Minister of Interior, Paul Mayom Akech, said the government failed to stem ongoing fighting due to a lack of coordination. He said repeated cattle raiding, attacks, revenge attacks, revenge killings, abductions and killings have made life difficult for communities.
A clearly marked ambulance, transporting an injured person to a hospital following intercommunal violence was shot at. The driver, a national staff member of an international NGO providing health services in South Sudan was killed. The incident is the fifth aid worker death in South Sudan in 2020 and brings the number of humanitarians killed since 2013 to 120.
A decree by the President was issued on Monday appointing governors and chief administrators for the areas of Pibo, Ruweng and Abyei. The role for the new governors is to now restore security at both the state and sub-national levels. This is considered essential considering the ongoing intercommunal violence that has continued over the past few months.
Part of the new governors is Sarah Celto Hassan of Ghar el Ghazal state, the only woman to be included as one of the newly appointed governors.
Under the provisions of the peace agreement, 35% of posts in the new unity government are to be allocated to women.
As the implementation of the peace agreement continues, many still remain vulnerable and displaced. UNHCR Representative Adan Ilmi stated that “generous donations such as this one from the Japanese people enable us to continue our work supporting refugees and internally displaced persons in South Sudan”. Since 2016, Japan has donated nearly $17 million USD to support displaced people in South Sudan.
The 2018 peace agreement states that 35% of all government positions should be filled by women. This has led women’s groups to urge President Salva Kiir to revoke his recent appointment of 8 governors, of which only one is a woman.
Amer Manyok Deng, chairperson of the South Sudan Women’s Bloc, a stakeholder at the peace talks, stated that Kiir should find a solution that meets the required 35% quota for female representation at all levels of government. Deng further expanded, that women who try to meet with government officials to discuss the issue cannot get an appointment.
Six people, two of which were aid workers were shot dead in South Sudan after members of an unknown armed group attacked them.
The aid workers were providing health and nutrition services to residents, mostly women and children who attempted to flee the scene. The state of Jonglei has seen numerous rounds of communal violence leading to the deaths of hundreds this year and continues to displace thousands. The ongoing violence has pushed aid groups such as the Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee for the Red Cross to limit their work in the state.
UN Coordinator, Mohamed Ag Ayoya stated that “these terrible acts cannot continue” in a statement calling on South Sudan’s government to do more to protect aid workers who take “significant risks” to help others.
Nuba refugees in the Yida camp, located in the Unity state, about 12 km from the border with Sudan have experienced increasing sexual assaults within the camp. One of the refugees told Radio Dabanga that girls in particular are raped when they leave the camp to work on farms or to collect firewood. The number of such assaults have continued to rise as schools are closed, leaving numerous girls to stay at home.
It was stated that the camps “lack food since humanitarian aid stopped on September 14 last year, many girls leave the camp to search for work in the markets and on farms, where they are subjected to rape”. Women refugees have staged a protest in front of the UNHCR office in the camp, calling for the resumption of humanitarian aid.
Approximately 6,000 people have fled the village of Likuangole in the Jonglei region following an attack by armed groups. Many of the families who fled their homes are seeking sanctuary next to a UN base.
David Shearer, a special representative of the UN secretary general said: “We are deeply concerned by these continued attacks and the impact on civilians who are being forced to flee their homes in fear for their lives and to seek sanctuary beside our base where conditions are dire because of recent flooding,”. He expanded stating that buffer zones need to be establishing to protect civilians and enable reconciliation to take place safely.
It has been said that this is not the product of intercommunal violence, rather “other political figures are at work. External actors need to stop deliberately stoking the conflict for the sake of local communities” Shearer explained. No external actors have been named.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that 60,000 in South Sudan were at risk of hunger due to the recent intercommunal violence that has rocked Jonglei and Pibor regions.
The UN agencies released a joint statement expressing concern that the violence has halted farming, which will impact the harvests for the rest of the year and deprive communities of their key sources of nutrition.
Meshack Malo a representative from the FAO in South Sudan stated: “At the height of the main planting season, insecurity is preventing farmers from going to their fields to cultivate food crops and livestock keepers are not able to follow their traditional migratory patterns to graze their animals,”. He further stated that the violence risks causing long-term food insecurity crises in South Sudan.