Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a renowned South Sudanese human rights activist, Peter Biar Ajak, calls on the Biden administration to take tough action against against Kiir and Machar to restore peace in the country.
“To revive the stalled democratic transition in South Sudan and restore hope to our people, the United States, which midwifed the birth of South Sudan and invested over 15 billion dollars since our independence, needs to send a clear message to Kiir that his repression of South Sudan’s people will not be tolerated anymore and that any further delay of elections is unacceptable,” the statement party read.
Biar accused President Kiir and opposition leader Machar of imposing their leadership on the people of South Sudan against their will.
“Kiir and his partner in crime, Riek Machar, have imposed themselves on the people of South Sudan for too long. Despite the severe repression in the country, our people made this unequivocally clear in the recently concluded South Sudan National Dialogue, demanding that Kiir and Machar urgently find an exit route from the political scene. The United States, working together with the African Union, the United Nations, and others must demand that Kiir holds election by March 2022 since our people can no longer endure his awful rule.”
The activist deplored the ongoing economic challenges faced by the civil population, diplomats and civil servants.
“Kiir’s failed leadership of South Sudan has been costly to our people. As reported by the World Bank, the national poverty rate, which stood at about half of the population at independence is now at 82 percent; our country ranked dead last in the 2020 Social Progress Index3; it tied for the last place with Somalia in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index; and it scored only 2 out of 100 in the 2021 Freedom House’s Global Freedom Score. Although the oil is flowing, our people cannot tell where the money goes. Our diplomats have gone for nearly two years without salaries.”
Testimony of Peter Biar Ajak, (PhD) Before The Committee On Foreign Relations, March 10, 2021
Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, and Members of the Committee:
I am greatly honored to testify today. This topic is close to my heart. For eighteen months, I endured a brutal, illegal detention at the notorious “Blue House” prison, operated by South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS).
My crime was criticizing President Salva Kiir and his failed leadership of South Sudan, which has turned the promise of our hard-won independence into a decade-long horror.
I survived this imprisonment and Kiir’s later attempt to either kill or abduct me from Nairobi, Kenya because of the support of many defenders of human rights around the world, including several members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representative (many of whom are seated on this Committee). I am extremely grateful to each and every one of you and the United States’ Government for speaking out for me when my voice was silenced, and for acting quickly to save my life and that of my family.
It is only natural that I begin my testimony with the stalled democratic transition in South Sudan. We gained our independence on July 9, 2011 after our people voted overwhelmingly for separation in a referendum made possible by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, which the United States brokered. At independence, Kiir assumed the presidency by appointment, charged with building democratic institutions that would allow for national elections to be held in 2015. But in December 2013, he and his former vice president Riek Machar (now the First Vice President) plunged our new nation into a civil war. Kiir used the conflict to defer the scheduled elections from 2015 to 2018, and again to 2021. And although the current peace agreement requires elections be held by March 2022, Kiir is already proposing 2023 and beyond.
In the meantime, he has built a repressive security state in the form of the NSS whose powers are concentrated in the hands of his kinsman, Gen. Akol Koor Kuc, who personally oversees the planning and the commission of gross human rights violations through Special Forces headquartered in his office. A four-person task force housed inside Kuc’s office identifies targets for extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary arrest. Once the targets are approved by Kuc, the Special Forces carry out the acts. Kuc has attended many executions and personally pulled the trigger on several occasions. As we speak, there are over 1,000 detained in secret NSS detention facilities across the country. Although less widely reported. Kuc oversees and manages
numerous corrupt schemes illegally extracting millions of dollars from oil, banking, gold, timber, charcoal, gum Arabic, aviation, and other public sector corruption.
Kiir’s failed leadership of South Sudan has been costly to our people. As reported by the World Bank, the national poverty rate, which stood at about half of the population at independence is now at 82 percent; our country ranked dead last in the 2020 Social Progress Index3; it tied for the last place with Somalia in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index; and it scored only 2 out of 100 in the 2021 Freedom House’s Global Freedom Score. Although the oil is flowing, our people cannot tell where the money goes. Our diplomats have gone for nearly two years without salaries. Civil servants have not been paid for months. Even the country’s official army has gone for months without salaries. It’s only the brutal NSS and the Presidential Guard, who personally protect Kiir, that get salaries on a regular basis. Simultaneously, the inflation is high and the currency has loss value as the Government monetizes the deficit.
Indeed, it’s the people of South Sudan who bear the brunt of Kiir’s mismanagement of their country. Three million people remain in refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, the DRC, and the Central African Republic. More than seven million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance as the confluence of conflict, floods, and macroeconomic crises devastate the population.6 Last year, we saw one of the largest discharges of water from Lake Victoria into the Nile, resulting in most of my home state of Jonglei being submerged in water. This led to increased displacement, forcing many families to move to Mangalla where they remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
To revive the stalled democratic transition in South Sudan and restore hope to our people, the United States, which midwifed the birth of South Sudan and invested over 15 billion dollars since our independence, needs to send a clear message to Kiir that his repression of South Sudan’s people will not be tolerated anymore and that any further delay of elections is unacceptable. Kiir and his partner in crime, Riek Machar, have imposed themselves on the people of South Sudan for too long. Despite the severe repression in the country, our people made this unequivocally clear in the recently concluded South Sudan National Dialogue, demanding that Kiir and Machar urgently find an exit route from the political scene. The United States, working together with the African Union, the United Nations, and others must demand that Kiir holds election by March 2022 since our people can no longer endure his awful rule.
Holding elections would require specific tasks to be completed such as the promulgation of a new constitution, the merger of various militias into a national army, the appointment of new Elections Commissioners, the conducting of the census, and the updating of the voter registry. However, given Kiir’s reluctance to implement the peace deal, it is unlikely that any of these enormous tasks would be accomplished on time. This means that March 2022 will likely come with elections nowhere in sight, which is Kiir’s intention since he is not interested in giving up power. If Kiir does not make progress on these vital areas, his already illegitimate regime will have expired. This would be the appropriate moment to consider Liberian model where that country’s former dictator, Charles Taylor, was forced to step down to allow a genuine transitional government to shepherd the country towards the conduct of democratic elections.
Two urgent actions will need to be taken to make it clear to Kiir that he must organize credible elections on time. First, the U.S., which holds the pen on the Security Council’s establishment and ongoing reauthorization of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), should secure new language in the next reauthorization resolution, which must be adopted by March 15, 2021, emphasizing that South Sudan must hold elections by March 13, 2022, as required by the Agreement, or be prepared to face actions that shall be determined by the Security Council. It should also add to the mandate of UNMISS and tasks it must undertake by all necessary means that it should support implementation of key activities required to enable elections to occur on time.
Second, Kiir has claimed to have amended the 2018 Agreement to postpone elections until 2023 but this change has not been endorsed by the South Sudan’s Parliament, which must by twothirds majority approve any changes. The parliament has not even been established. If the Security Council does not explicitly reject this illegal move and insist that all parties must comply fully with the 2018 Peace Agreement, then it will have acquiesced to Kiir’s bypassing the Agreement to push off elections for a year and set a dangerous precedent. Failing to hold him accountable next week will enable Kiir to extend the tenure of his already illegitimate regime beyond what is specified in the Agreement. This could very well spark large-scale violence with devastating consequences for our people and the Horn of Africa.
Finally, the U.S. should continue to hold individuals responsible for gross human rights violations and those thwarting the peace process accountable through imposition of targeted sanctions under South Sudan sanctions program, established by Executive Order 13664 and under the Global Magnitsky Act. These individuals should include the NSS Director-General, Gen. Kuc and his top cronies. The U.S. should also push the African Union to urgently set up the Hybrid Court on South Sudan to end the culture of impunity. Meanwhile the U.S. should continue to support civil society groups, church groups, community-based organizations, and women and youth coalitions that are working hard to build consensus among our people.
The stalled democratic transition in South Sudan highlights the challenges to democracy not only in our country, but also in the Horn, and the entire continent of Africa. Five key challenges inherent in South Sudan are omnipresent in the Horn of Africa and beyond, including:
Restriction of press freedom: The assault on journalists and press freedoms has become a global problem. The year 2020 set the record for the number of journalists detained, while the number of those murdered in the course of their work doubled from the previous year. The entire Horn of Africa with the exception of Kenya has consistently performed poorly in the treatment of
journalists. While South Sudan has habitually been the absolute worst, recently, Uganda and Ethiopia have seen shocking levels of repression of press freedoms. Even before the ongoing conflict in Tigray started, Prime Minister Abiy’s record on the freedom of press was dismal. And the recent elections in Uganda have revealed to the world the extent to which President Museveni is willing to go to suppress his people in order to maintain power. Further down south, press freedoms have suffered since President Magufuli came to power in Tanzania. In Zimbabwe, the situation is worse than when Robert Mugabe was still in power with many journalists being arbitrarily detained, tortured, or killed.
The authoritarian leaders know that information is power and if people are informed, they will not accept the awful conditions to which they are subjected to live. Hence, by restricting press freedoms, the African dictators act to keep our people in the dark – to keep them ignorant of their misery. While social media has allowed activists in some cases to evade surveillance, authoritarian leaders have learned how to create disruptions through propaganda, disinformation and shutdown of the internet among others. Recently, China and Russia, working in concert with many African dictators have made this situation worst.
Yet, access to information is the bedrock of democratic institutions. While the U.S. invests heavily in access to information around the world, including in South Sudan, it is time to bolster these efforts. Those who impede the work of journalist must be held accountable and U.S. must increase its investment in free media. Moreover, the U.S. will also need to apply its superior technology and innovation to counter Chinese and Russian disinformation efforts.
Severe repression of political opposition, human rights defenders, and activists: Because authoritarian leaders are ruled by fear of losing power and control, they feel threatened by any hint of opposition. Lacking the ability to compete in free exchange of ideas, they resort to violence, intimidation, and harassment. My experience in South Sudan highlights this clearly, as do recent farcical elections in Uganda. Through state coercive apparatus, they detain, torture, or kill perceived opposition, forcing many to flee for their lives.
While the U.S. often speaks out when these tragic events occur and imposes punitive actions (including sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act), it can bolster these efforts. Through Department of State, the U.S. should publicly identify and monitor the cases of bellwether human rights defenders and democracy activists and act swiftly and decisively when they face repression. If we are killed or detained with impunity, then who would be left to push for democratic reforms in our countries? Therefore, developing measures to monitor the treatment of such activists around the world will go a long way towards creating political spaces that nurtures local movements and gives them the resilience they need to prosper.
Moreover, the U.S. should incorporate the protection of fundamental freedoms, including the treatment of political opposition, human rights defenders, and democracy activists into its broader foreign policy objectives. Instead of seeing promotion of democracy and stability as competing priorities, it can formulate a comprehensive framework that brings these two together since they are truly entwined. Such a framework can serve as the foundation of any defense, economic, or trade agreement with the United States and its allies. In addition, the U.S. should increase support to civil society and democratic forces by enhancing democratic civic education and the capacity of women and youth to contribute to policy issues in their countries.
Entrenched leaders who abuse Term Limits: Many leaders in Africa, including those who came to power on the promise of expanding democracy in their countries, have increasingly become entrenched. Once they consolidate power, they wish to remain there forever by removing Terms Limit. While Museveni did this long ago (removing both Terms and Age Limits), the practice has now become commonplace as we witnessed last year in Ivory Coast and Guinea. In the Horn of Africa, Kenya is the only country in which Terms Limit still means something. Since Parliament and Judiciary are often weak in many African countries, Terms Limit play a critical role in preventing power becoming concentrated in the hands of one person. The U.S. will need to bring this topic back on the top of agenda in dealing with African countries, deploying necessary inducements and disincentives to obtain the desired outcome.
Chinese promotion of authoritarianism: The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) promotion of authoritarianism is a great concern in the Horn, the continent of Africa, and around the world. The CCP uses anti-democratic tactics, financial coercion, and physical intimidation to secure support for authoritarian leaders who are usually in cahoots with them. These efforts result in increased corruption, environmental degradation, and displacement of people.
The Chinese investments in South Sudan, for instance, have only created misery in the form of severe oil pollution and grand corruption, where South Sudanese oil is stolen by their leaders in coordination with Chinese oil companies. In recent years, China has become emboldened in promoting its Party-State model as a viable (even desirable) alternative to liberal democracy. It has invested extensively in exchange programs, offering scholarships to students, youth-wing of political parties, and African security forces to study and adopt its model. It has built cultural exchange centers all around the world, while deploying its companies to bolster corrupt authoritarian leaders.
The United States needs to take seriously the Chinese ambition for global dominance, aimed at remodeling the world according to its values. Rather than seeking to impose a binary choice on Africans between the United States and China, this requires intensified support to democracy efforts and democracy activists who are fighting to defend values of freedom in their own countries.
Doing so will require augmented support to anti-corruption efforts, exchange programs such as the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, YALI, the Peace Corps, and many others. Looking long-term, the United States will need to provide scholarships and open up its institutions of knowledge. Moreover, the United States will need to encourage American private sector to expand its investments overseas, particularly in Africa, where Chinese capital is only entrenching authoritarianism and weakening instruments of accountability. Notwithstanding the risk averseness of American companies, the U.S. Government can create mechanisms to make such risks manageable for companies, encouraging them to expand responsible capitalism around the abroad. Relying on humanitarian and developmental aid alone will be too little to counter the increasing Chinese influence.
Sham elections that damper faith in democracy: While we in South Sudan have never had the privilege of choosing our own leaders, many Africa countries hold elections on a regular basis. However, these important processes of democracy have recently become farcical events.
In the recently concluded elections in Uganda, Museveni managed to prevent independent monitoring of elections. This was also the case for last year’s elections in Tanzania, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. In 2018, Emerson Managwagwa stole elections in Zimbabwe with impunity.
Elections are too important to be abused in such ways. They are the instruments through which the sovereign will of the people is expressed. While the U.S. Government often releases statements condemning misconduct, no meaningful actions usually follow such words. This will need to change. Moreover, the U.S. will need to increased funding for elections monitoring throughout the world. And this funding should not only just be for the voting, but for the entire process. Elections, after all, are not events, but crucial processes through which citizens renews the bonds of contracts that knit them together.
This year, 13 African states will hold elections, some of which have already occurred. It’s important these elections are held with integrity. In addition, ensuring that the upcoming elections in South Sudan, which must be held by March 2022, are held with integrity will be crucial. The stalled democratic transition in South Sudan and Kiir’s horrific violations of human rights with impunity has set an awful tone in the region. These abuses are now being replicated nearly everywhere in the region with the exception of Kenya and Sudan. By acting decisively to ensure that these elections are held on time and that a new political paradigm emerges in South Sudan, the United States will be sending an unequivocal message of hope to our citizens in South Sudan and the Horn that a new era has dawned. This requires important investments be made now to lay the foundation for democratic transition in South Sudan.
Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, Members of the Committee:
My presence before you today is a testament to the courage and the resilience of many democracy activists around the world. It also speaks to the critical importance of various mechanisms the U.S. Government already has in place to support the work of civil society, human rights defenders, and democracy activists. Indeed, while I am concerned about the growing threat of authoritarianism, I am also cognizant of the power of human desire for freedom and opportunity. And this gives me hope that with right measures and resolve, not only will dictatorship failed, but freedom will thrive.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this distinguished audience today!
The Troika countries, namely the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway issued a press release on Monday during the commemoration of the First Anniversary of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.
“Today (February 22), marks the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU). This was a major step toward restoring peace in South Sudan. The Troika welcomes all efforts by the RTGoNU in implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), most notably the appointment of a unified Cabinet, Governors, and Deputy Governors in all states.”
The members of the Troika welcomed the recent resolution of the Council of Ministers that endorsed the formation of the African Union Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
“The Troika further welcomes the endorsement by the Council of Ministers on January 28 of a roadmap for implementing Chapter 5, including the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan; the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing; and the Compensation and Reparations Authority.”
“Much work remains and there is an urgent need to implement R-ARCSS in full. Progress made over the past year has been too slow and too limited. Critically important is the immediate formation of State Governments and the re-constitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and Council of States. Implementation of Transitional Security Arrangements and true security sector reform should commence immediately.”
“The Troika endorses and reiterates the call made by African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ambassadors to improve conditions in training centers and accelerate the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces. We will continue to work closely with IGAD and the regional guarantors to reach common objectives on the peace process and an agreed roadmap for implementation.”
“The Troika calls for the commencement of the permanent constitution-making process and the start of preparations for peaceful, credible, and inclusive post-transitional elections. There is an urgent need to continue implementation of reforms envisaged in Chapter 4 regarding transparency and accountability, including through the Public Financial Management Oversight Committee.”
The Troika voiced its concern over the ongoing intercommunal violence in different parts of the country.
“We welcome the appointment of three women as Deputy Governors but note with disappointment the failure to ensure 35 percent female representation as stipulated in R-ARCSS. While the national ceasefire has generally held, the level of violence across the country, including conflict caused by defections, is unacceptable.”
“We urge all parties to the Rome process to ensure adherence to the Cessation of Hostilities and pursue political dialogue. We are deeply concerned that violence is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation, where 7.2 million people are facing severe levels of food insecurity and more people are in need of assistance than in any year since South Sudan’s independence. We call upon the Government to ensure immediate de-escalation of sub-national conflict and unhindered humanitarian access.”
“We acknowledge the challenges posed by COVID-19 for the implementation of the R-ARCSS and more generally. We welcome efforts by the Government to respond to a new wave of cases. The Troika will continue to work in partnership to respond to this crisis. We look forward to continuing working in close partnership with the RTGoNU to support the full implementation of the R-ARCSS.”
A UN human rights expert has called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to probe into the killing of American journalist Christopher Allen and hold the perpetrators responsible.
Christopher, a young American freelance journalist, was brutally murdered in late August 2017 in the line of duty, but the government has since denied any responsibility.
“The fact that for three whole years there has been no independent investigation into Mr. Allen’s killing sends a very dangerous signal that journalists and media workers can be targeted with impunity,” said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The UN expert urged the South Sudanese government and the United Nations to work together and identify the culprits responsible for his killing.
“The governments of South Sudan and the United States can and must take steps to ensure that the circumstances of Mr. Allen’s murder are fully, independently and fearlessly investigated,” she said in a statement.
She appealed to the US security service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to discharge its mandate and obligations by investigating possible war crimes believed to have been committed against Allen.
“The FBI has a duty, both legal and moral, to investigate Mr. Allen’s killing because of well-founded suspicions that war crimes may have been committed by members of South Sudanese forces,” she said.
“Mr. Allen’s murder is indicative of the wider climate of hostility towards journalists in the country,” she said. The rapporteur noted she had written to the South Sudanese authorities on January 30 this year asking about an investigation but had received no response.
Dec 3, 2020 (Thessherald)–Former U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Thomas Hushek has won the 2020 Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy.
In a brief statement, the United States Embassy in the Republic of South Sudan congratulated Thomas Hushek on his well-deserved recognition.
“Congratulations to Former U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Thomas Hushek for winning the 2020 Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy.”
“This is an extraordinary award from the Department of State to employees who excel in the most challenging leadership positions overseas,” the Embassy says in a statement.
Who’s Thomas Hushek, former U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan?
Mr. Hushek is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service . He has been working for the State Department since 1988. He has served at multiple capacities including being the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna , Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and has worked in U.S. embassies in Micronesia, Russia and Tajikistan.
United States Ambassador to South Sudan
On August 3, 2017, Hushek was nominated as the United States Ambassador to South Sudan. On April 26, 2018, the Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote.
November 7, 2020 (Thessherald)–Joe Biden secured enough votes in the US electoral college at 11.25am EST on Saturday and will become the next president of the United States.
The Democratic nominee crossed the 270-vote threshold by winning the state of Pennsylvania after a long and drawn-out counting process exacerbated by a large number of mail-in ballots.
It was a dramatic turnaround from early on election night, when Republican incumbent Donald Trump looked likely to sweep the race, taking the swing state of Florida. Mr Trump’s campaign is still set on a series of legal challenges over alleged irregularities in the electoral process in several states.
Mr Biden was also leading Mr Trump in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, where votes are still being counted, but it was Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes that pushed him over the 270-vote threshold in the electoral college to win the presidency.Reacting to his victory, Mr Biden repeated his promise to work for all Americans.
“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country,” the president-elect wrote on Twitter.
“The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not.I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
November 5, 2020 (Thessherald)–The US President, Donald J. Trump has lashed out at Joe Biden’s supporters and voters, saying that they are no longer humans but four-legged frogs.
“How dare they count the votes? Stop the counting, counting is for terrorists. We’re going to sue the counters. There are a whole bunch of votes all for the same guy who isn’t me? Coincidence? I don’t think so,” Trump was quoted by The Independent as saying.
Trump claimed that California is part of Brazil and everyone who comes from that city is an alien.
“A lot of these votes are from California, that’s not part of America, it’s in Brazil, their votes don’t count.
“I’ve heard all the people in Wisconsin who voted for Biden, a bad bunch. They weren’t people, they were frogs, they’ve counted the votes of FROGS, this is very bad,” President Trump blasted Biden’s supporters.
He alleged that his votes had been stolen and vanished into thin air.
“My votes have been put on the moon. I know an astronaut, he’s a terrific astronaut, he said he saw them, on the moon, he’s got a telescope, we’re going to investigate. And then I want the World Cup. I won it, the French need to give it back, they kept counting the goals after the game had started, I won it but they stole it, bad French!”
Oct 25, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Ethiopian government has expressed deep concern and blasted US President, Donald J. Trump over his inflammatory comments, suggesting that Egypt could ‘blow up’ the Nile dam if Ethiopia continues to drag its feet on ending GERD dispute.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, in a strongly worded statement, that it was seeking clarification regarding the inflammatory comments made by Trump during his telephone conversation with the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia summoned today (October 24) the United States Ambassador H.E. Mike Raynor to seek clarifications on the remarks the US President made regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during his telephone conversation with the Prime Ministers of the Republic of the Sudan and the State of Israel,” the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.
The Ethiopian government has accused Washington of inciting and fueling an already-ongoing regional war between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in International Law governing interstate relations.”
“The Minister further informed the Ambassador that Ethiopia has never and will not in the future succumb to threats to its sovereignty and will be committed to continue the trilateral negotiations under the framework of the African Union.”
Since 2011, there has been a long-standing dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, revolving around Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to build the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam along the Blue Nile – some 20 kilometers upstream from Sudanese territory.
August 3, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Embassy of the United States expresses deep concern with continued pockets of conflict around South Sudan and calls for all parties to deescalate tensions. Fighting in different parts of South Sudan in recent weeks has reflected different causes and involved different parties but the impact is all similarly unacceptable; the people of South Sudan, your friends, your neighbors and communities are all suffering abuses against civilian populations. Forced displacement, disruption to livelihoods, diversion and looting of humanitarian aid, and the killing of aid workers are all unacceptable.
It is time for local and regional leaders and the government of South Sudan to put an end to these conflicts and start unifying the country and bringing well-deserved peace to the people of South Sudan.
In Western Bahr el Ghazal, we are concerned by recent clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition and South Sudan People’s Defense Forces units, accompanied by the arbitrary detention of civilians and attacks on civilian vehicles. We welcome the establishment of a delegation with leaders from both sides and urge immediate dialogue to reduce tensions, forestall further clashes, and prevent a broader threat to the peace agreement ceasefire.
In Western and Central Equatoria, we note an uptick in clashes between SSPDF and the National Salvation Front in the past week, accompanied by displacement of civilians and civilian abductions.
We urge all parties to immediately adhere to the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, comply with their Rome Resolution obligations, and resume dialogue on a political solution to the conflict.
In Jonglei, we remain deeply concerned by the large-scale mobilization of armed groups and fighting on an ethnic basis. We welcome all efforts to address the base causes of the recent violence in South Sudan but it is going to take more work. It is going to be hard, but now is the time for all the people who took or accepted the responsibility to lead this country, to work towards a nation of unity where everybody has a right to speak in public without fear of repercussion, where every has a right to education, where everybody has a right to live in their home of choice without fear of violence. The leaders of South Sudan cannot sit back and wait for things to happen; they need to make them happen.
June 9, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Troika countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway) have issued a joint statement, calling on the country’s leaders to expedite the appointment of state governments to curb the ongoing waves of inter-communal violence in the states.
“The formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in February was a major step forward in South Sudan’s peace process. Since then, a new challenge has emerged, not just for South Sudan, but for all of us. COVID-19 is a truly global challenge that will have far-reaching political and economic impacts. The Troika will continue to support South Sudan in its response,” the group said in a statement.
“We are deeply concerned at the increased levels of violence across South Sudan. This causes immense suffering for the people of South Sudan, puts in jeopardy any gains that have been made, and has implications across the region.”
The Troika noted that the ongoing absence of state governors has caused an unnecessary vacuum, leading to cycles of violence.
“In Jonglei, the vacuum created by the lack of governance has exacerbated cycles of intercommunal violence. In Central Equatoria, the ceasefire signed in January between the government and non-signatory groups has broken down and we have seen heavy fighting between forces in recent weeks, with villages destroyed and their communities displaced.”
“Shocking reports of sexual violence against women and girls continue. We are concerned with the impact of the fighting on humanitarian access.”
The trio urged President Kiir and his deputies to break the deadlock and immediately appoint governors in a timely manner.
“Now is the moment for the President and Vice Presidents, supported by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the guarantors of the peace agreement, to agree on the selection of governors and to move forward to govern together for the benefit of the people of South Sudan. Any further delay creates uncertainty that undermines the transition process, slows the fight against COVID-19, and holds back efforts to end the violence that now threatens the hard-won peace.”