Several small political factions and smaller tribes in South Sudan have begun publicly expressing displeasure with both the governing Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the rebel SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO). These groups believe that the SPLM and SPLM-IO are wasting time trying to organize one governing party. Outside peace negotiators are wasting time, and wasting lives, letting them try. Some of the disgruntled have called the IGAD (East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development) sponsored talks useless. That is going too far. However, the complainers have many legitimate points. A lot of blood has been shed and perhaps there is no way to reconstitute the old unified SPLM of the John Garang era. So the Dinka-dominated SPLM and Nuer-led SPLM-IO should not try. The warring factions should focus on ending the civil war. Fine, the SPLM would hold some areas and the SPLM-IO others. The SPLM would control Juba and claim to be the national government, even though somewhere between 30 and 45 percent of the people reject it. The idea is “go to your corners” is the best outcome available. Peacekeeping forces could then buffer the contested areas. The idea is that violence would diminish and the South Sudanese people can start picking up the pieces. Garang was (Austin Bay)
A recent study of weapons thefts from peacekeepers notes that between 2005 and 2014 bandits and/or rebels attacked UN peacekeepers in Sudan and South Sudan over 100 times. This number does not include what the study calls household robberies or similar thefts. Most of these attacks occurred in the Darfur region and half the time attackers managed to steal weapons and ammunition. The study rates 20 of the attacks as significant, which means at least ten weapons or 500 (or more) rounds of ammunition were taken. In these twenty incidents over 750,000 rounds of pistol, rifle and machine gun ammo were stolen. A substantial number of grenades and mortar rounds were also lost. All told, slightly more than 500 weapons were stolen. Most of these were light weapons (pistols, assault rifles, light machine guns). However, some heavy machine guns, mortars and grenade launchers were also lost. Why bother to buy arms when you can steal them? Nevertheless most of the illegal weapons in Sudan and South Sudan were supplied by the black market, which has been awash in Cold War surplus (mostly from Eastern Europe and Russia) weapons since the 1990s. The 2011 revolution in Libya added to the supply because the Libyan dictator has been a major buyer of Russian weapons and most of those stockpiles were looted.
July 28, 2015: South Sudan soldiers killed a police officer who murdered at least five people in the town of Aweil (Northern Bahr al Ghazal state). Authorities have yet to determine the motive but the officer had been ordered to transfer to another part of the country and may have been unhappy with that.
Lawyers for two South Sudanese Christian clergymen condemned to death by the Sudan government complained that the judge who condemned them favored the prosecution. The lawyers contend that their clients were illegally detained by the secret police (NISS, the National Intelligence and Security Services). The clergymen are charged with spying and promoting hatred among sects. The clergymen’s supporters contend that Sudan’s Islamist government is persecuting Christians.
July 27, 2015: The American president met with negotiators in Ethiopia to discuss options for helping end South Sudan’s civil war. The Americans believe that an end to the violence is urgent.
July 26, 2015: South Sudanese Dok-Nuer tribes in Unity state accused government forces of committing atrocities and war crimes. The Dok-Nuer demanded that the government begin an investigation of the atrocities immediately. The charges describe hideous acts including soldiers raping 15 year old girls.
July 23, 2015: Fighting continues in Malakal area of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. And the truth be told, that has been the case in and around Malakal for a year and a half. The town has changed hands several times as in one day the army takes control and a week later rebels push them out and seize the town. Aid groups report that the fighting makes supplying Malakal very difficult. Over 20,000 people have no medical care because medical aid groups cannot risk sending their personnel into an active combat zone.
July 20, 2015: In Malakal 36 wounded civilians arrived seeking aid after their convoy that was attacked by a group of armed men. The wounded suffered burn, blast and bullet wounds.
July 15, 2015: An unidentified group of armed men ambushed a large four-wheel drive vehicle in the village of Koromla (outside of South Sudan’s capital, Juba). The attackers killed at least five people and wounded seven.
July 14, 2015: Lou Nuer tribal fighters have been accused of ambushing and killed two people on the Ayueldit-Poktap road (South Sudan Jonglei state). Another person was wounded. The South Sudan government reported that some 300 armed Lou Nuer tribal youth are operating in the area.
South Sudan told the UN that it completely opposes the effort to make the disputed Abyei area an international protectorate. South Sudan’s UN ambassador made the statement as the Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) from July 15 to December 15, 2015.
July 13, 2015: A Sudan Christian woman who was arrested for wearing pants has escaped being punished by lashing. A government court sentenced her to receive 40 lashes for the crime of wearing pants. Well, the charge said indecency. The woman and 11 other women were arrested in June by Sudan’s morality police. Wearing pants (trousers) and skirts can violate the government decency code for women. Sudanese Christians say this is another example of intolerance to Christians in Sudan.
July 10, 2015: The South Sudan SPLM-N rebels announced that it will not participate in peace negotiations with Sudan. The SPLM-N accused Sudan of delaying tactics. Sudan wants to appear to be engaged in peace talks. However, Sudan denies monitors access to areas in order to hide its war crimes and murder of civilians. The SPLM-N wants the African Union to declare a definite time line for future talks and a time line for the negotiating parties to meet peace implementation commitments.
July 9, 2015: Today is the fourth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence. The U.S. reaction was typical saying that “Today should be a time for celebration in South Sudan, but it is overshadowed by the tragic costs of conflict. Since December 2013 thousands have been killed, more than 2.2 million displaced, and 4.6 million people remain at risk of life-threatening hunger. Both the government and the armed opposition are responsible for ongoing military actions, violations of international humanitarian law, and widespread human rights abuses against civilians, including horrific crimes against women and children. The country’s economy is also deteriorating as its leaders squander its oil wealth on a senseless war.” Unfortunately, everything the U.S. said is accurate. Norway is also deeply involved in South Sudan negotiations. The Norwegian Refugee Council in South Sudan issued a sober assessment of South Sudan’s fourth birthday: “Only a halt in fighting and violence can save the country from a major humanitarian catastrophe.”
July 6, 2015: In South Sudan rebels belonging to the Martine Kenyi faction attacked the town of Nimule on the Uganda border. One policeman was injured and the rebels destroyed three trucks. The leader of these rebels is a former South Sudan military officer. He deserted in 2014 and formed a guerrilla group in East Equatoria state.