Sudan: Seventh Ceasefire Slip Sliding Away


February 26, 2015: UN peacemaking efforts in South Sudan have been ineffective so far because the government and rebel leaders are, according to many local and foreign observers, unwilling to compromise and actually make peace. The government does not want to share any power with the rebels while the rebels see the dispute as a tribal one that the government refuses to compromise on. There is a ceasefire in place that calls for the two sides to work out a peace deal by March 5 th . The rebels accuse the government of not being sincere and of also bringing in foreign troops. The rebels believe Uganda now has 7,000 troops in South Sudan. Uganda has promised both the South Sudan government and the rebels that it will withdraw its troops eventually and most definitely once a peace deal was agreed to and implemented. The rebels initially called Uganda an ally of the government and they were right. In mid-2014, however, Uganda managed to convince the rebels that it had sent soldiers into South Sudan simply to protect Ugandan living there. Uganda also sought to politically appease angry rebel leaders. However, it is 2015 and the troops are still there. Rebel commanders in the field now accuse Uganda of reneging on its promises.  The Ugandan government now insists that Ugandan troops would withdraw when a ceasefire is signed and implemented.  None of the seven ceasefire agreements has been fully implemented. Following a rebel complaint in January the South Sudan government said the rebels had no right to demand Uganda withdraw. Then the government changed its mind and agrees that the Ugandans should leave. But neither the government nor rebels have the means to make that happen.

All this began on December 15, 2013 when fighting broke out in the capital (Juba) between Dinka and Nuer tribesmen who were soldiers in the national army (the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army or SPLA). The fighting in the capital spread throughout the entire country leading to the current Civil War. Casualty estimates vary widely. A common figure dead is more than 30,000 and at least two million have been driven from their homes to escape the threat of violence from the armed men, especially if they are not from your tribe. There is no end in sight and the UN is considering an arms embargo and sanctions on government and rebel leaders. The UN is particularly upset at the lack of discipline on both sides and the growing incidence of looting, rape and seemingly random murder of civilians. Foreign aid organizations warn that unless the government and rebel troops stop interfering with aid movement and distribution over two million people will suffer from starvation. Both sides see the foreign aid shipments as belonging to whoever has the most armed men in the vicinity.

The continuing violence in western Sudan (Darfur) is, so far this year, creating over 20,000 refugees a month. In 2014 nearly 40,000 refugees a month were created in Darfur although over 30 percent have since returned to their homes. This sort of chaos has been going on since 2003 when the Sudan government sponsored Arab tribes in the region in attacks on the non-Arab (black African) tribes. The UN blames the Sudan government and the UN has declared the Sudan president a war criminal but the Arab world refuses to back this interpretation. Many Arabs believe the Darfur violence is a Western or Israeli plot not a cynical ploy to help Arab tribes seize land and water from non-Arab tribes. Everyone involved is Moslem.

February 23, 2015: In western Sudan (East Darfur) continuing tribal feuds left three dead and four wounded.

February 22, 2015: The UN accused South Sudan government troops of kidnapping 89 teenage boys from a school in Upper Nile state yesterday and immediately sending to off to be trained as soldiers. There were plenty of witnesses and there is a 2008 law against anyone under 18 from being in the military. But now both sides in the civil war are ignoring that law and ignoring or denouncing UN complaints about it.

February 21, 2015: The South Sudan government is succeeding in persuading some rebel or pro-rebel politicians to back the government. The January peace deal called for reconciliation but the government is just trying to weaken rebel support in order to make a military victory possible. That will simply provide a reason for yet another rebellion.

February 19, 2015:  In South Sudan (Upper Nile state) three days of fighting between government and rebel forces have caused nearly a hundred casualties. This was a resumption of violence that first broke out a week ago. The government accuses the rebel leader of either losing control of his forces or of trying to capture another town before the peace talks resume today. Many government officials believe the rebels fighting here are defying the rebel leader, who insists that the rebels are complying with the January ceasefire and peace negotiations deal.

February 16, 2015: In the Sudanese capital police seized the daily print run of 13 newspapers (including some pro-government ones) without giving any reason. Police showed up at the prining plants and simply seized the entire print run for each paper. This was the largest act of censorship yet. Sundan stands near the bottom (172 out of 180) in surveys of press freedom worldwide. There is little of that in Sudan, has not been much of it for a long time and today it got worse. The government has been trying to discourage all media from giving any coverage to the various rebels groups operating throughout the country. Press freedom isn’t doing so well in South Sudan either although the situation is not as bad as it is in Sudan.

February 13, 2015: The South Sudan government called off the June elections and is seeking to extend the term of the current government (set to end in July) for two years. Many see this as an unnecessary step and one that will make it more difficult to reach a peace deal with the rebels by March. The government contends that if the fighting disrupts too much voting the June elections will be seen as tainted. The government insists that if a peace deal is worked out new elect

ion dates would come into effect and the composition of the government would change accoding to whatever the peace negotiations decide. So far neither side has been able to agree on the details of power sharing between the two tribes that are at the core of this dispute.

February 11, 2015: Despite the ceasefire fighting broke out in South Sudan with rebels attacks in Unity state and Upper Nile State.

February 10, 2015: Sudan and South Sudan ended another round of negotiations on exactly where their border should be. No agreement was reached.

February 8, 2015: In South Sudan the government accused the rebels of violating the January ceasefore agreement.

In western Sudan (Darfur) locals are becoming increasingly vocal about the lack of medical care in the wake of the government expulsion of foreign aid organizations who had provided medical care. Since 2009 Sudan has been giving more and more foreign aid organizations a choice between paying large bribes to stay in Darfur or get out. Most, if not all, who have been threatened this way have left.

February 3, 2015: Russia complained that two Russian pilots, working for the UN peacekeepers in western Sudan (Darfur) had been kidnapped by rebels.

February 1, 2015: In South Sudan government and rebel leaders signed another (the seventh so far) ceasefire agreement.

In west Sudan (South Kordofan) rebels released six foreign UN workers they had kidnapped.





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