South Sudan’s warring parties clash around Bentiu town

March 23, 2015 (BENTIU) – Fighting between the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and the rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar reignited on Monday around the oil-rich Unity state capital, Bentiu, with the opposition group accusing the government of being on the offensive.

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South Sudanese soldiers patrol the streets of Unity state capital Bentiu on 12 January 2014 (Photo: Simon Maina/AFP)

The newly appointed spokesperson in the office of the opposition governor in Unity state, Major Weirial Puok Baluang, told Sudan Tribune on Monday that government troops had attacked their defence positions around the capital.

He claimed that forces loyal to president Salva Kiir have launched an offensive to the south and east of the state capital Bentiu in areas which have been held by the rebels.

“This morning we came under heavy attacks from Juba faction in multiple frontlines surrounding the state capital. We have all repulsed several attacks retreating the government toward Bentiu town,” he told Sudan Tribune by satellite phone from around Bentiu.

Baluang also added that the government attacked their position in the west of Rubkotna town, a twin town, about 5km north of Bentiu capital, further claiming their forces pushed the pro-government troops back into the heart of Rubkotna town.

The latest fighting, he said, resumed in the area after the rebels laid a deadly ambush against government troops, just some 10km north of Rubkotna town.

The government’s military spokesperson, Col Philip Aguer, on Monday confirmed the clashes, but accused the rebels of shelling Bentiu town, adding that government troops had responded and repulsed opposition forces.

Another source from Bentiu who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was indication that the rebels were planning an imminent retaliatory attack on government in the south and east of Bentiu capital, as well as north and west of Rubkotna town.

He said a large number of rebel forces were intercepted on Monday as they were advancing towards the capital Bentiu from the northern direction.

The source also accused pro-government forces of allegedly preventing civilians from fleeing into the United Nations protection camp in the twin towns when the capital came under intensive shelling by the rebels.

“Today it has been a horrific shelling in Bentiu town, we have tried this afternoon to go to UN camp in Rubkotna, but pro-government [forces] blocked our ways. We do not know what to do by now,” he said.

He warned that should anything happen to their family members it was the government that would be responsible for denying them access to safer sites.

The two belligerents have been accusing each other of being on the militarily offensive in various frontlines in Upper Nile and Unity states for the past week following the collapse of the peace talks in Addis Ababa on 6 March.

Upper Nile province, which is the richest region in South Sudan with oil, has been the scene of fighting for over a year between the rival forces.

The stalled peace process under the auspices of the East African regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is however expected to resume in April with expanded mediation beyond players in the continent to try to end the more than 15-month-long conflict.



Donors Warn Ethiopia of Omo Conflict Risk From Rapid Sugar Plans

 By William Davison

(Bloomberg) — Development of the Ethiopian sugar industry in South Omo that will bring in migrant laborers may exacerbate conflict in the ethnically diverse region, according to the U.S. aid agency and other donors.

The state-owned Ethiopian Sugar Corp. is tapping loans from the Development Bank of China to build six sugar-processing factories and plant 150,000 hectares (370,700 acres) of sugar cane in the region bordering Kenya. It’s part of a plan for Ethiopia, Africa’s most-populated nation after Nigeria, to turn from net importer to exporter of the sweetener, and eventually become one of the top 10 sellers globally.

Farming of the crop may disrupt the traditional lifestyle of pastoralists native to the area, while the arrival of “hundreds of thousands of migrant workers” may fan ethnic tensions, the 27-member Development Assistance Group said in a statement on Wednesday. The area is populated by at least eight ethnic communities, including the livestock-rearing Bodi and Mursi groups.

“This, as well as the rapid pace for planned development, may significantly increase the chances of the risk of conflict, as the Bodi and Mursi are increasingly exposed to external influences, and could lead — if not handled properly — to destabilization,” according to the donors.

Officials with the Development Assistance Group visited South Omo in August, the most recent of several trips over the past three years to assess a government resettlement program that is being implemented alongside the sugar schemes.

Forced Resettlement

Advocacy groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch say the initiatives in South Omo involve systemic abuses, including the forced relocation of people from their ancestral property. The donor group said it found no evidence of people being compelled to move in the areas they visited.

Development in South Omo is aimed at preventing conflict and the community has been widely consulted about the plans, Federal Affairs Minister Shiferaw Teklemariam said in a phone interview from the capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday.

South Omo is a remote, mostly low-lying area populated by about 200,000 people who have experienced bouts of conflict caused by resource competition and cattle raiding.

Changes in the environment caused by sugar development may affect beekeeping, cattle herding and crop growing, activities which local residents depend on for their livelihoods, the donors said.

One of the biggest concerns for the Mursi and Bodi communities is accessing grazing land, said the group of donors, which also includes European nations, India, the United Nations, African Development Bank and Turkish aid agency.

Residents say they are concerned they will lose pasture and fertile land once the flow of the Omo river is regulated by the Gibe III hydroelectric dam.

The government should increase transparency about the sugar projects, listen better to the communities and consider slowing the pace of change to “allow a softer transition, avoiding conflict,” the donors said.




A Retrospect into the Latent Days of Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) and the Current Wail for the Release of the Budget

By Ajoda Odolla

Seven moons ago in 2014, the next day after GPAA seceded from Jonglei State and has become a separate administrative area in South Sudan, my friend and I phoned each other and agreed to partake in a party our compatriots, the foremen of GPAA, threw at their quarters in Juba. On arrival you could see the halo, aura of rays of joy and glory emitting from the glowing faces and gleaming teeth of these procreators of GPAA. It looked as that of Moses when he came back from Mount Sinai with the tablets the 10 commandments inscribed on them.

A feeling commensurate to yogic relief was palpable. They deserved it .Weeks and moons passed by and they waited apprehensively with bated breath. Those who were not familiar with one step at a time motto had difficulty reconciling to the tortoise gait the process was taking. Optimists, majority protagonists of GPAA, called for patience to let the politics run its course. Pessimists, who were bent on search for loopholes to criticize, were mockingly saying that the men had been conned. The cessation of hostilities and drastic peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa between the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army-Cobra Faction (SSDM/A-Cobra Faction) and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GoSS) was just nominal to ease friction and placate the people. They said that the promise to create a separate administrative area for Greater Pibor (GP) was a temporizing and an emollient move by President Kiir in case Riek Machar led rebels anted up their assault on the government or merely to appease Apee Ochudho, the lead coordinator for the establishment of GPAA’s government.

Mr. Kiir proved them wrong though, an overture that did not receive much ovation from the SPLA’s diehards. His unparalleled and unsung magnanimity is his indelible legacy. Even though it is overlooked by South Sudanese at this time, in the years to come it will be a fetish they will cherish; a prototype to be adopted and emulated by other African leaders.

With dissuading and debilitating words that constantly come from antagonists, every tick of the clock seemed to be dashing away hope from those waiting for the creation of GPAA. However, it is never over till it is over. The highly anticipated promulgation came from the media, duly official; the GPAA was born. The mooring had been let loose setting the ship free to sail in the direction envisioned by its captains helmed by General David Yau Yau (DYY), the head of GPAA, with their people to their promised land.

Back in December 2013 at the eruption of the putsch (coup attempt) led by Riek Machar, sadists were expecting the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction of David Yau Yau (DYY) to jump into the fray and strike while the iron was still hot. The duo assault, they reasoned, would hamstring the government rendering it a cripple. These myopic fellows were not prescient that this vicissitudes created the chute needed by the Cobra Faction to reveal its true colour, peace lovingness. Nevertheless, the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction proved its allegiance and integrity to the observers that its motives for lifting arms against the government were not vague vie for power nor thirst for bloodletting, rather they were tenable grievances that would have preferably been channeled through peaceful dialogue.

As we entered the lounge at the hotel, where our compatriots were parting, we were welcome and I, not to be overtaken, was quick to utter, ‘’Mabrook’’ (the Arabic term for congratulations) and simultaneously tapping each others’ left shoulders and shaking hands, a South Sudanese custom of affection and respect. “Mabrook, we did it,” everybody responded.

We were shown comfy seats at this air-conditioned lounge in one of Juba’s posh hotels. I ensconced and was enthralled. But my mite brain began reeling in a nostalgic reflection making this anachronistic that may be I was at a different part of the globe. That casted ambivalence on me , enjoyment on one side and fear of not wanting to return to the scorching sun of Juba awaiting me once I set foot off this place, on the other side. That didn’t curtail the jubilation we indulged in. I managed to bring myself back from this brief daydream and joined the heated discussion. This time it was around how we successfully got to this win-win situation. “By opting for peaceful dialogue we restored peace to our region and subsequently our nation,” one man said, “we staunched bloodshed by averting possible ethnic clashes. That was an epitome of South Sudan’s potion works best for South Sudan’s malady.”

“Even Neanderthals, our progenitors, I guess,” another man called out from the other corner mimicking chimpanzee , at this moment a gale contagiously filled the room, “ Neanderthals,” he continued, “ used to lay their sticks and bones down and hug each other ululating and howling reaffirming their brotherhood and signifying reconciliation. We, as their descendants, therefore, have done the same by putting our differences aside and focused on our common grounds. Above all, we share a common mother- South Sudan. Let it go Y’all!”

Then I came into an eye contact with Mr. David Yau Yau. I bashed away trying to avoid it but I realized that it was just a picture on a pamphlet lay on the table in front of me. I picked it up and it riveted me to my little world of reading, again. I thumbed and skimmed through the next page. Then I saw Mr. DYY quoted to have said that the factors that gave rise to the conflict and this divorce from Jonglei were absence of fair and equal treatment to all people of Jonglei. That has set the record straight for the critics who endeavor to detract Gen. DYY’s quest for egalitarianism. The men claimed that DYY hopped into Litila’s bush, Pibor as a sheer effort to reclaim his stars that were plucked off. “It was lack of infrastructure and uneven distribution and delivery of resources and services such as health facilities, schools, roads to name a few,” Mr. DYY continued, “the vastness of Jonglei as a single state contributed to this failure of observing all its corners and tending to the needs of all its inhabitants fairly and equally.”

As I was trying to register this, a big raven on the TV screen stole my attention, but gave me the perfect scenario I was searching for. A mother bird with fledgling chicks in its nest may mistakenly feed some of them repeatedly more often than the others. Because in every turn the mother returns to the nest, every chick splays its beaks exposing the hole wide open, and expecting some savoury crumbs to be crammed in. That means since the CPA was enacted, the administration in Bor, Jonglei made that blunder by dropping the food crumbs in the gobs of few of its favourite chicks. The hapless, the ilk of the ones who now call themselves heirs of GPAA, ended up with nothing.

One may say, “Pibor filed for divorce and it was granted. That is definitely right. GP is now directly under the Office of the President. GP has received overwhelming support from the central Government of South Sudan (GoSS) except that thing – the budget for public and civil services. Therefore, I would like to broach this issue up to His Excellency, the legitimate democratically elected President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Your Excellency, the people in GP are now in state of unbearable lassitude, and their patience is growing weary day by day. Please, Mr. President, listen to the wails coming from mothers and children in GP who bear the brunt of this budget delay. The market area in Pibor teems with emaciated kwashiorkoric kids who could push a doughnut down in a single gulp if they could get it. Mr. President, please spur your illustrious and industrious men working on the budget for GP to step up the gear a bit. The delay of the budget hampers everything in GP and is causing us teething troubles. At this juncture, its immediate release is crucial for stability in the region and to end further suffering. This is not to downplay the concessions and strides your office have made so far in regards to this matter. But this issue of budget calls for your exigent response as everything is tied up to it. With due regards!

I hope the 9 months we have passed so far after the peace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2014, doesn’t extend to 40 years odyssey that Moses and his Israelites mass spent astray en route to their promised land . If it lags that long , unlike Moses who got cotton on his head and under his chin, am afraid that constant brooding may push further my receding fringe line to my nape, leaving a gleaming highway in its wake. PEACE!!

The writer can be reached at Ajoda Odolla on Facebook or on 0927194689


World Bank: Address Ethiopia Findings

 (Washington, DC) – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

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The implications of the cancellation of South Sudan general elections

Filed under: News & Views |
  • 4Sre

By Steve Paterno

kiir-electionAfter wrestling with impending constitutional crisis of a power vacuum relating to the elections or lack of thereof, the authorities finally decided to extend the life of the government for two more years through constitutional amendments; and in the process, it gives peace a chance, within the stipulated period. Continue reading

Ivory Coast hold their nerve to beat Ghana, win 2015 African Nations Cup

Ghana, win 2015 African Nations Cup

The Ivory Coast celebrated their first African Nations Cup since 1992 after a nervy final with Ghana.

BATA, Equatorial Guinea — After 120 scoreless minutes, Ivory Coast defeated Ghana 9-8 on penalties to win their first African Nations Cup since 1992. Here are three quick points from the final…

1. Boubacar Barry provides the most romantic of conclusions

Boubacar Barry is now 35 and has, through the thick and sometimes very thin, been a mainstay during Ivory Coast’s rise to global prominence over the last decade. He is far from the biggest name from their “golden generation” and it is perhaps generous to even bracket him in that category at all. Barry has had plenty of detractors but here, on his 81st international appearance and his first of this Africa Cup of Nations, he came good for his country in the most unlikely and romantic of ways.

The Lokeren goalkeeper has played second fiddle to Sylvain Gbohouo during this tournament but was a late call-up to the team when Gbohouo picked up an injury. Barry had little to do over the 120 minutes, but saved from Afriyie Acquah in the shoot-out with the Elephants staring right down the barrel at 2-0 down. Then, with only Barry and opposite number Razak Braimah left to take kicks, he made a superb save from the Ghanaian’s effort and then converted his own with aplomb.

Ivory CoastIvory Coast
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Game Details

Barry wheeled away in ecstasy, showing little sign of the injury, which was apparently sustained upon diving and caused a delay to the shoot-out, that had appeared to been hampering him.

It provided a worthwhile conclusion to this competition and gave Ivory Coast their first title since 1992. More importantly, it ensured that those more decorated names (the Toure brothers, Yaya and Kolo, and Salomon Kalou in particular) have a trophy to call their own. They will thank Barry after failing to show any form of their own here.

Hopes had been high that Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony would be hitting form after decisive interventions in recent games but all were virtually invisible, a couple of early Gervinho runs aside. When the dust settles on Sunday’s famous victory, you’d be forgiven for wondering if we will ever see the Man City don the famous orange shirt again. They were bailed out by Barry here; perhaps that was apposite proof that the quiet man who waits patiently for acclaim can sometimes get what he deserves.

2. Ghana shade a dull, nervy final but fall short

Ghana began this game edgily — and that is to put it nicely. Perhaps there was an element of nervousness at being 90 minutes from their first Africa Cup of Nations in 33 years; perhaps a more technical explanation would be some intense early pressing from Ivory Coast, who began much more confidently forced a number of early errors from the Black Stars.

The most notable was a mistake 17 minutes in from Baba Rahman, who rolled his foot over the ball when attempting a simple pass out of defence and presented it straight to Gervinho. The Roma forward, who had been lively early on, wasted little time in playing Max Gradel through in the inside-right channel but he blasted over and Ghana were let off.

Ghana barely saw the ball in the opening 25 minutes but were given a shot in the arm soon after by Chelsea’s Christian Atsu, who cut inside after good work by Andre Ayew and shuddered Barry’s left post. Rahman then made a more positive contribution by slipping a clever ball through for Ayew, who struck the outside of the other post from a tight angle.

Ghana’s anxiety was clear for much of a game, despite that they created the better chances overall.

They had been isolated forays but both were close shaves for Ivory Coast and Ghana were marginally the better side for the rest of the half, Atsu looking to be in the mood now and helped by the fact that Serey Die, Ivory Coast’s deep midfielder, was exceptionally lucky not to receive a second yellow card after scything him down.

It was now the Ivorians, who had a 23-year duck of their own to break, looking nervous and the better openings in what transpired to be barren second half and extra-time periods fell to Avram Grant’s men too. John Boye headed just off target in the 69th minute and Atsu, the game’s liveliest attacker by a distance, squared for a shot Asamoah Gyan should have done better with. There were shots wide by Atsu and Mubarak Wakaso in the added 30 minutes but this increasingly looked like a match set for penalties and, once Gervinho had controlled poorly from a Bony knockdown that threatened to send him clear, so it transpired.

It was unclear which side would have the greater composure in the shoot-out and, against all odds after missing their first two kicks, the Ivorians were the team that did not blink.

3. Gyan gamble fails

You could not blame Grant for restoring Asamoah Gyan to Ghana’s starting lineup. The manager’s refusal to substitute his captain with Ghana looking home and dry against Guinea had already come under scrutiny — Gyan subsequently sustained a pelvic injury after an awful challenge from Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara — but the former Sunderland man was certainly needed now. Although his fitness was estimated to be only 80 percent, he started alongside Appiah in attack.

Despite being such a success in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages against weaker teams, Appiah looked lightweight against the Ivorians, even though a more robust presence in Gyan should in theory have helped him. But Gyan, who was also laid low at the start of the tournament with a bout of malaria, looked like a man who had taken a blow too many and was a peripheral figure. It was a relief for Ivory Coast after the trouble that Dieumerci Mbokani, the strapping DR Congo centre-forward, had wreaked in their semifinal.

In the end, it was an indictment against Grant’s options that Gyan remained on the pitch for 120 minutes. Jordan Ayew would come on for Appiah during the first period of extra time and then, even more curiously, Gyan was replaced by Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu at the end of extra-time when his status as a penalty taker had seemed likely. Badu’s penalty was excellent, as it turned out, but there were surely other candidates to remove. Grant has been maligned often throughout his career but did a fine job with Ghana in Equatorial Guinea. Yet he might struggle to ignore the fact that with a couple of more timely substitutions over the past week, he could have done even better.

Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC, the Guardian, FourFourTwo and the Blizzard, among others.



Ethiopia is gearing up to deploy about 2000 strong forces to South Sudan

Ethiopian soldiers stand guard near boxes of weapons found hidden under a building in MogadishuADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Defence Forces have confirmed that the government of Addis Ababa is amassing forces of 2000 soldiers supported by 4 fighter jets and over 35 tanks are set to be deployed in the war torn South Sudan as early as March next year to provide security and maintain stability around Juba, Paloch Oilfields (Upper Nile State) and Bentiu (Unity State).
Major General Yohannes Woldegiorgis Tesfay, one of the expected generals to be deployed to the war-ravaged South Sudan has told The Upper Nile Times that the forces will act alone and not as part of the Ethiopian troops already deployed there as part of the UNMISS forces. Continue reading

Response to Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics

By Magn Nyang, Minnesota, USA – Recently, I read an article with the above title written by one named Chuol R. Kompuok. For those who don’t know who Chuol is, I would like to give you some info about him. In 1987, my classmates (whom I grew up with from early childhood) and I were in 7th grade in Gambella Middle High School. If not all of us, most of us were classmates from the 1st grade. Here we are in the 7th grade (our first years in the Middle High School), when two tall skinny and one short skinny boy walked into our class. We looked at each other in a way that said “Who the hell are these boys?” Continue reading

Respond to All Ethiopian United Party (Kinijt)’s report on massacre of Majanger by TPLF/EPDRF

newsOjulu Odola, SYDNEY -  On the eve of Ethiopian New year when people are busy preparing themselves for New Year celebration, TPLF/EPDRF’S tyranny government carried out horrific and deadly attack to wipe out the indigenous Majanger tribe from their ancestral land to give way to TEPLF/EPDRF’s current and retirees Army Generals to plunder the natural wealth of indigenous Majanger People.

The news had terrified and upset not only the indigenous people of Gambella, but all Ethiopians who love their country because killing innocent indigenous people became a routine act of TPLF/EPDRF’s government. Many Ethiopian political parties, civic organizations and individuals had condemned the killing. Continue reading