Sudan: Flawed Peace Deals Mean Not Much Peace At All

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September 30, 2015: There is no peace in Sudan or South Sudan although strenuous peace making efforts have reduced the violence of late. Fundamental issues appear unresolved. The Sudan government is still seen backing formal and informal efforts to dominate non-Arab groups, especially in the west (Darfur) and south (oil rich Abyei and other areas on the South Sudan border.) In South Sudan the civil war is apparently unresolved, despite a recent peace deal. Ancient tribal rivalries keep the violence going. The neighbors aren’t helping either, as pro-government Ugandan troops in South Sudan refuse to leave. The South Sudan civil war has been underway for 21 months so far, despite the presence of 13,000 UN peacekeepers. The fighting has killed over 20,000, forced 2.2 million people from their homes and put over three million at risk of starvation. The most recent fighting was most intense in the north (Unity State and Upper Nile State). The violence is also increasingly out of control with more reports of rape and enslavement of captured civilians. The AU (African Union) announced the formation of a war crimes court to deal with the many atrocities that have occurred during the South Sudan civil war. This court is part of the recent peace deal.

On the ground aid relief organizations operating on the in South Sudan’s Unity state report that the ceasefire, though fragile, has permitted new food and supply deliveries to displaced persons.  That’s fact because the vehicles have moved and the distribution has occurred. This is opinion but worth noting: people living in the area are convinced they will suffer from another outbreak of fighting between government and rebel forces. The UN also reported that many areas in Unity state cannot be reached due to security concerns.

September 29, 2015: In South Sudan the government and rebels blame each other for breaking the ceasefire agreement. The government said it was willing to continue with UN sponsored peace negotiations.

September 25, 2015: The South Sudan army is preparing to move its troops out of Juba, the national capital. The army is building or expanding bases outside the capital. There are eight key garrison locations, all within 25 kilometers of the city. Evacuation from Juba is part of the peace deal signed in late August.  According to the peace deal, all foreign forces must depart South Sudan by October 10. Most of the foreign forces in the country are Ugandan. The Ugandan Army, however, said this week that it has not received “instructions” to leave.

September 24, 2015: In Sudan SPLM-N (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North) rebels claimed Air Force bombed several villages in Blue Nile state despite the government announcing that a ceasefire between the SPLM-N and the government began on September 22. Antonov transports rigged as bombers hit eight villages. The SPLM-N said that it would agree to a six month long halt in fighting if the government fulfilled its pledges to curtail hostilities. The air attack indicates the government hasn’t done so.

September 22, 2015: Sudan declared that it would observe a ceasefire in all battle areas within Sudan beginning today. The government also said there would be pardons for all rebel leaders who agreed to participate in his national dialogue political process. The pardon would grant a general amnesty to the leaders and members of armed rebel groups. Numerous rebel leaders have been sentenced to death, including two senior leaders of the SPLM-N.

September 20, 2015: The Sudan government reported that its own investigation of reported crimes and abuses by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia has cleared the militia of these charges. Yes, you read that correctly. The Sudan government’s report cleared the RSF, a militia force that supplements other Sudanese military forces in combat and counter-insurgency operations. It operates like the old janjaweed militias did in the worst days in Darfur. The RSF is brutal. There is simply too much evidence out there that its militiamen commit war crimes on a regular basis.

September 19, 2015: In Sudan (North Darfur state) four civilians were killed and three wounded when a militia attacked their village. The militiamen were mounted on four wheel drive vehicles and camels.

September 18, 2015: In Sudan the SPLM-N claimed its forces defeated an attack on their position in the Ingessana Hills (Blue Nile state). The attacking force included some 5,000 militiamen supported by armored vehicles. The rebels claimed they destroyed two T-55 tanks.

September 16, 2015:  In on the Sudan border the lull in Abyei continues. The question remains for how long because the area is occupied by Sudan but claimed by South Sudan. The Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) still claims that contested areas in Abyei remain stable. This Summer, however, Ngok Dinka representative claimed the UN peacekeepers were failing to protect Dinka people from Misseriya militias. The Misseriya are an Arabized and Muslim semi-pastoral tribe. The Ngok Dinka are predominantly Christian. Both Sudan and South Sudan argue the area belongs to them. Abyei has oil resources (Diffra/Kech oil fields).

South Sudan rebels (SPLM-IO) claim that 44,000 people have fled Unity state. Many of the refugees crossed the Nile River from the Guit county area. They fled fighting or threat of government attack are now in an area controlled by the rebels.

September 14, 2015: Sudan’s SRF (Sudanese Revolutionary Front) rebels say they are willing to agree to a six month long cessation of hostilities. The government, however, has to abide by the ceasefire agreement and enter into a constructive political dialogue. The SRF offer follows a tentative offer by the Sudan government to agree to a two month long ceasefire.

September 10, 2015: Rebel and South Sudan government forces clashed in Central Equatoria state. No matter who started it, this is a major violation of the ceasefire agreement. The rebel commander in the state accused government forces of launching multiple attacks on rebel bases. The attacks started at approximately the same time indicating that the attacks were coordinated.

September 8, 2015: South Sudan’s parliament indicated that it may reject the ceasefire agreement signed by the rebels and the government in late August. Several members of parliament said that the deal infringes on national sovereignty. This could be a major impediment. The agreement specifies that the national parliament and the rebel’s leadership council must ratify the agreement within a week after signing.  That means ratification needed to take place by September 2 or 3.

September 2, 2015: The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) reiterated its threat to boycott government sponsored National Dialogue talks.  The SRF rebel coalition said that it will launch an alternative political process. Sudan announced in early August that the suspended dialogue political process would re-start in October. Government opponents see the National Dialogue as a political fraud.

September 1, 2015: Tripartite talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the Renaissance Dam have resumed. The three nations say they intend to reach a water and electrical power sharing agreement with Ethiopia over Nile River water distribution rights. Sudan and Egypt object to Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project. In June 2013 the three countries agreed to form a joint special committee of international experts to discuss and analyze the dam project and its potential effects on Nile River water flow. Some Egyptian politicians have threatened to attack the GERD.  Egypt claims it has rights to around 85 percent of the Nile’s annual flow and cites two treaties, one from 1929 and one from 1959, as the basis for its claim.

South Sudan rebels said fighting in Unity state threatened the South Sudan ceasefire agreement.

August 31, 2015: South Sudan’s government and the rebels are accusing each other of breaking the ceasefire deal. The rebels signed on August 17, the government on August 26.

 

 

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