The governors in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria states are advocating an ethnic quota system for manning the military and police. They believe a system which draws on ethnic groups from all regions will discourage coups and inter-ethnic fighting. The governors signed a statement which encourages leaders in South Sudan to denounce politicians and political parties who use tribal disagreements to advance their own agendas.
Political differences and personal animosity between South Sudanese head Salvaa Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar may be the root cause, but inter-ethnic violence certainly a component. That’s why the governors want to make certain no single ethnic group dominates the security forces.
January 29, 2014: South Sudan has released seven arrested opposition political leaders who supported the rebellion. However, the government said that it intends to put several rebel leaders on trial. The charge will be launching a coup to topple the government. Diplomats said the decision to try the rebels could reignite the conflict. Though no major ceasefire violations were reported today, the ceasefire remains fragile.
January 26, 2014: Fighting continues in South Sudan despite the ceasefire agreement. The government claimed its forces engaged rebels in Lakes state. One firefight occurred near the White Nile River. A rebel group was attempting to pass through Lakes state to link up with rebel forces in Unity state.
January 25, 2014: Rebel leader Riek Machar announced that the ceasefire agreement between his supporters and the South Sudan government would only become final when the Ugandan Army had left the country. Machar and his supporters are now referring to themselves as the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLA/M-O). The name makes a political statement. The rebels are making the argument that they are not rebels but a legitimate opposition faction of the SPLM which was forced to take up arms. The pro-Kiir government soldiers in the SPLA refer to the rebels as mutineers and traitors.
January 24, 2014: South Sudan rebels accused government forces of breaking the ceasefire and attacking at least two of their positions, one in Jonglei state and the other in Unity state. The rebels made the claim despite a stipulation in the ceasefire agreement that both sides had a 24 hour period to end combat operations without violating the ceasefire. Poor communication is one reason for the grace period. The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA, official name of ceasefire deal) requires all allied combat units to leave the “theater of operations.” The document does not specifically mention Uganda but everyone knows the CHA is referring to Uganda. Ugandan Army troops have participated in several battles on the side of South Sudanese government.
Meanwhile looters stole over 3,700 tons of food. The biggest thefts occurred in warehouses in Unity state.
January 23, 2014: South Sudan’s government (president Salva Kiir’s supporters) and the rebels (former vice-president Riek Machar’s faction) have signed a ceasefire agreement. Mediators in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said than the deal will include a verification and monitoring force to observe the ceasefire and report on violations. The East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sponsored the ceasefire talks and will be involved in organizing the monitoring teams. Though the agreement is temporary, pending further negotiations, it requires both sides to lay down their arms. The government must also release 11 imprisoned opposition political leaders.
January 22, 2013: NGOs (non-governmental aid organizations) accused Sudan of using the civil war in South Sudan as a cover to launch new attacks on its own rebels. The group focused on Sudan’s extensive offensive in South Kordofan state. During December 2013, the Sudanese Air Force conducted 56 confirmed bomb attacks in South Kordofan. 35 aerial bombing attacks occurred during the first two weeks of January 2014.
The South Sudanese government has accused rebel fighters of murdering 127 hospital patients in the town of Bor (Jonglei state). The alleged atrocity occurred when rebels attacked Bor on December 19, 2013.
January 20, 2013: The SPLA had driven rebel forces from the town of Malakal (capital of Upper Nile state). Government soldiers now control Malakal and the immediately surrounding area. Rebel leaders disputed the claim. Observer reports indicate that government forces do indeed control the town. However, UN peacekeeping troops reported that heavy gunfire (small arms) continues in the area. Photos confirm that many neighborhoods in Malakal have been destroyed. Malakal has changed hands several times in the last four weeks. Upper Nile state is an oil-producing region.
Uganda confirmed that Ugandan Army soldiers helped recapture the town of Bor (Jonglei state). Uganda is openly allied with the South Sudan government.
January 19, 2014: Senior Sudanese Army officials denied accusations that Sudan intended to enter South Sudan’s civil war. According to the Sudanese military, Sudan would only join the war if it had a bilateral treaty with South Sudan’s government. No such treaty exists.
South Sudan has sent military reinforcements to Warrap state. Rebels launched a small scale but deadly attack in the state on January 13. Though only two people were killed, the rebel force stole a large herd of cattle. Civilians in the state requested the government provide more security forces. Prior to the attack the government had beefed up police units in the area. However, since the attack the government has promised to deploy more SPLA units. At least one battalion has re-deployed to Warrap state.
Combat has destroyed the town of Bor with some neighborhoods are burned out. At least 25,000 people are homeless. Rebel forces may have killed around 1,200 people when they seized the town on December 17 and attempted to hold it against a government counter-attack. Government forces drove the rebels out on December 24 but the rebels counter-attacked and regained control on December 31.
The Sudan peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) claimed that its forces in Sudan's Blue Nile state had killed several dozens of Sudanese Army soldiers in a recent battle near Malkan. The SPLM-N ambushed a convoy near the town of Malkan. The rebels claimed they disabled on Sudanese Army tank and captured two tanks. They also seized several artillery pieces.
January 18, 2014: South Sudanese rebels claimed that they had not lost the battle of Bor but conducted a strategic withdrawal from the town. Meanwhile, South Sudanese forces claimed they had taken control of Bor and defeated more than 15,000 rebels. The Ugandan Army claimed that its soldiers played a key role in the capture of Bor. The rebels are referring to the Ugandan Army as mercenaries. Bor is the capital of Jonglei state.
January 17, 2014: South Sudan claimed that rebel leaders do not have full control of their forces. In the government’s opinion, rebel leaders involved in ceasefire negotiations cannot assure mediators that rebel forces will quit fighting if and when a ceasefire deal is reached.
January 16, 2014: Uganda said that some of its combat units in South Sudan are now fighting on the side of the South Sudan government. A Ugandan Army battalion is fighting near the strategic town of Bor. Ugandan soldiers participated in a large battle on January 13 on the road between Juba and Bor (90 kilometers north of Juba). The Ugandan Army acknowledged that some Ugandan soldiers died in that firefight, but gave no official casualty figure. Rebel commanders claimed that Ugandan Army attack helicopters and artillery had participated in a battle near the town of Mongala (Central Equatoria state). That battle may be the one in which Ugandan soldiers were killed.
January 15, 2014: The advance party of a Nepalese Army unit reinforcing the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) arrived in Juba. Ultimately a Nepalese battalion of around 850 soldiers will deploy. Part of the Nepalese contingent (350 men) are being shifted from the UN Stabilization Mission in
South Sudan rebels and pro-government negotiators continue to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Mediators claimed that the negotiators are close to agreeing to a ceasefire.
UN observers reported intermittent firefights between government and rebel forces near Malakal (Upper Nile state).
January 14, 2014: The South Sudan government denied rebel claims that rebel fighters had taken control of the town of Malakal (Upper Nile state). Both sides acknowledge that the fighting around Malakal has been fierce.