The UN accused South Sudan troops of killing civilians in April 2014 when they counter-attacked rebels in the town of Bentiu (capital of Unity state). The army is also accused of killing civilians in a firefight near the town of Bor (capital of Jonglei state). Nearly 400 civilians were killed in these two incidents. These massacres remain a bitterly contested topic in the on and off peace negotiations between South Sudan and the rebels. This is largely because the rebel and pro-government forces each represent a different tribal coalition and these two coalitions have been fighting for many generations.
January 9, 2015: South Sudan’s various warring parties have begun a new series of peace negotiations. That Tanzanian-sponsored talks include opposition political parties in South Sudan that are not part of the rebel coalition.
January 7, 2015: Heavy fighting has erupted in several places in South Sudan. Government and rebel forces have clashed in Nassir (Upper Nile state) and in Bentiu (Unity state). The South Sudan military claimed that it had defeated a rebel attack on an oilfield near Bentiu.
January 6, 2015: A South Sudan opposition political leader rejected the government’s plan to hold national elections in June 2015. The opposition leader said that the government decision would further inflame emotions in the country and would not help end the civil war. Opposition political leaders and rebel leaders both say peace must precede elections.
January 5, 2015: South Sudan’s government claimed its forces killed six rebel fighters in clashes in Jnglei, Unity and Upper Nile states. Two government soldiers were slain in a rebel attack on a government position 30 kilometers from Bentiu (Unity state).
January 3, 2015: South Sudan government and rebel forces have fought a series of battles near Nassir (Upper Nile state). The first firefight occurred on December 31 when rebels shelled the town. Skirmishes broke out on the three subsequent days (January 1-3). The SPLA reported losing two officers in the firefights.
January 1, 2015: As 2015 begins the Darfur War in western Sudan continues. The Sudan government announced that Sudanese Army troops and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) seized rebel positions at Vanaga in the Jebel Marra area (western Darfur). Two Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) rebel factions operate in the area; the SLM-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and SLM-Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW). The government claimed its troops killed 50 rebels and captured over 50 rebel vehicles. RSF units are special militia formations created in 2013 by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). The NISS trains RSF militiamen. RSF units in the field are supposedly under the command of the Sudanese military. That appears to be the case in this New Years Day battle in Jebel Marra. Sudanese rebels refer to the RSF as “the new janjaweed.” (Austin Bay)
South Sudan’s government announced the country will hold elections in either May or June 2015. This is a policy turn-around. In 2014 the government said the civil war necessitated a delay in election until 2017. The government also said that it will offer amnesty to South Sudan rebels if they want to vote in the election. The rebels issued an official statement rejecting the amnesty offer. They argue they have committed no crime warranting amnesty. A rebel official also said the elections would lack credibility.
Sudan threw itself a party and celebrated 59 years of independence. Whether or not a majority of the people of Sudan celebrated is another question. A senior member of the Reform Now Movement (an umbrella opposition group) criticized President Omar al-Bashir for his failure to pursue national reconciliation.
December 30, 2014: South Sudan claimed a Sudanese Air Force plane bombed a village in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state. The attack killed two civilians and wounded seven. The attack occurred at Dem-Jallap (about 60 kilometers west of Raja).
The Sudanese government announced that it will expel another UN diplomat. That makes two such expulsions in a month.
December 25, 2014: Sudan has ordered a senior UN humanitarian aid administrator who works with the UNAMID peacekeeping operation in Darfur to leave the country. The Khartoum government alleges that the UN official insulted Sudan and the Sudanese people.