Sudan: Stumbling Towards Peace

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February 22, 2016: The UN condemned escalating ethnic and political violence in South Sudan, especially in Upper Nile state where fighting between the Dinka and Shilluk tribes has spiked in the last three weeks. An attack on a refugee compound in Malakal killed 18 people and wounded an estimated 90 more. The UN operates this site where the February 17 attack by Dinka soldiers loyal to the government took place. UN facilities burned and looted. Two of the people killed in the attack worked for a medical NGO.

February 20, 2016: South Sudan’s government it was not involved in combat throughout the Upper Nile region. The government refrains from calling it Upper Nile state since the government divided it into three states. The government condemned the fighting the city of Malakal and said it was not involved in the fighting in Bahr el Ghazal. The government reiterated that they and the rebels have committed themselves to the peace agreement.

February 18, 2016: The South Sudan government ordered its soldiers to move out of the capital, Juba. Removing the army from the capital was part of the August 2015 peace agreement. Observers confirmed some troops left. There is a new army barrack area is 25 kilometers from Juba, as specified in the agreement. However, a number of troops live in the capital, so just how many have permanently left is not yet certain. A guard force remains. The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which oversees the operational implementation of the agreement, said that both the government and the rebels have six weeks to complete the deployments. The rebels will deploy its own guard force of 3,000 fighters when rebel leader enters Juba and becomes, once again, South Sudan’s first vice-president. The new Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) cannot be formed until the deployments are completed and the rebel leader has moved into Juba.

In Sudan the SPLM-N (Peoples Liberation Movement-North) rebels claimed that the government launched three aerial bombing attacks on villages in the Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan state).

The UN condemned a bitter fight between the Shilluk and Dinka in Malakal, capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. Some of the fighting occurred inside a UN run camp for refugees. Initial reports said that the fighting was between Dinka and Shilluk youth. However, many of the young men were armed with automatic weapons. The fighting started late on the evening of February 17 and continued through February 18. Some ethnic Nuer refugees in the camp were killed during the fighting. Witnesses said Dinka fighters killed the Nuer.

February 13, 2016: The rebels accused the South Sudan government of violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack rebel bases and cantonment areas. This includes government forces attacking a base in Eastern Equatoria state on February 13 and a base in Western Equatoria state on February 12. The rebels also accused government forces of attacking Shilluk tribespeople in Upper Nile state and shelling a rebel garrison area south of Malakal (in Upper Nile state).

February 12, 2016: South Sudan rebels pointed out that government troops must be out of Juba before the rebel leader will return to the nation’s capital. Demilitarizing Juba is an essential step in fulfilling the August 2015 peace agreement. The rebel leader said he will not return to Juba until the government withdrawal is completed.

February 11, 2016: South Sudan announced that the rebel leader was officially reappointed to the post of first vice-president. This is required by the peace agreement. The warring parties were supposed to have formed a transitional government by January 22 but failed to do so. The rebels indicated that they believe they will succeed in forming a transitional government. However, the rebels remain bitterly opposed to the recent government decision to create 28 states in South Sudan. The rebels only recognize ten (the original states).

February 10, 2016: In Sudan the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) is no longer an effective umbrella organization for uniting all rebel groups with the goal of forcing major changes in the Sudan government. All the rebels despise Sudanese dictator Omar al Bashir. However, several of the SRF’s original members have factionalized. Some have lost clout. An example of a much diminished organization is the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdulwahid Muhammad Al Nur (SLA-Abdulwahid, or SLA/A-N). Tribal divisions have weakened what was the main Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Eqwuality Movement (JEM).

February 9, 2016: UN peacekeepers report that over 23,000 people (60 percent of them children) have sought refuge from air raids and attacks in the Jebel Marra Massif region (North Darfur state). Air attacks could have only one source: the Sudan government.

February 8, 2016: In South Sudan the SSNLM (South Sudan National Liberation Movement) denied that the group has defected to the rebels. The SSNLM has around 8,000 fighters and its home base is Western Equatoria state. The SSNLM is sometimes called the Arrow Boys. The rumor that the group defected began after an armed dispute between the army and the SSNLM in January. The dispute was resolved.

February 2, 2016: In Sudan SPLM-N rebels claim it defeated Sudanese Army forces in a battle in the Kilgo Hills (Blue Nile state) suffering five wounded compared to 32 dead and 13 wounded government soldiers. If the numbers are accurate, it indicates the SPLM-N has a very thorough regional intelligence operation.

February 1, 2016: The South Sudan government and the rebels accused each other of numerous peace treaty violations throughout the country. The army said it believed the rebels were planning new attacks on the town of Lanyi (Mundri East region).

January 29, 2016: UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that ending South Sudan’s civil war requires maintaining sustained political pressure on the South Sudan government and the rebels. He called on international donor nations and nations in the East African region to remain engaged.

January 28, 2016: The SPLM-N accused the Sudanese Air Force of bombing a rebel-controlled area in Blue Nile state. A Sudanese Antonov transport dropped ten barrel bombs on three villages, Malken, Ullu and Alrom.

In South Sudan’s newly created Sobat state armed men wearing uniforms similar to South Sudanese National Security police uniforms attacked security forces killing 24 and wounding another 25.

January 27, 2016: Rumors reported earlier this month in Sudanese media appear to be true. The South Sudan Army has acquired some shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. South Sudan wants the missiles to defend against air attacks by Sudan.

 

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