Sudan: Baby Steps Towards Peace

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May 2, 2016: South Sudan has finally formed its transitional coalition government. This process is months behind the schedule stipulated in the peace treaty. The transitional government includes leaders from the loyalist government faction led by the elected president Salva Kiir and the rebel faction led by former vice-president Riek Machar. The transitional government (also referred to as the Transitional Government of National Unity, TGoNU) will operate for 30 months and then hold new national elections. So far Kiir has named 16 cabinet ministers and Machar ten. Other political and tribal organizations will pick four more cabinet ministers. Creating the transitional government is a big step toward peace. However, sporadic fighting continues throughout the country and many observers are referring to it as “the messy peace.” (Austin Bay)

May 1, 2016: Sudan revealed that it is helping to obtain the release of a Sudanese (Coptic) priest in Darfur who was kidnapped for ransom in April. There are only a thousand or so Coptic Christians in Darfur. This was unusual as the Copts have been in Sudan for centuries and about one percent of the population is Coptic. In the last two centuries many more have migrated from Egypt. In Darfur the Copts play a large role running and developing the economy. Copts have been subject to attacks by Islamic conservatives in western Sudan, but not in Darfur.

April 30, 2016: In Sudan six gunmen mounted on camels rode into a Darfur refugee camp firing there weapons and then rode away. Six refugees in the camp were wounded. The shooters were believed to be from a pro-government tribe that regularly attacks pro-rebel civilians.

April 29, 2016: The African Union (AU) reported that three rebel groups in Sudan have told AU negotiators that they are willing to participate in a six-month long ceasefire. The three groups are The Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). All three groups declared a ceasefire in October 2015, but it was not observed.

April 27, 2016: In Sudan SPLM-N rebels in Blue Nile state claimed that they inflicted a major defeat on the security forces. Fighting was also reported in South Kordofan state.

April 26, 2016: In South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to Juba and assumed the post of first vice-president. Prior to the civil war Machar was elected to serve as first vice-president.

In Sudan the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) told the government it will pay a stiff price if it executes JEM leader El-Tom Hamid Tutu, who was sentenced to death in 2011.

April 25, 2016: More ethnic fighting has erupted along the South Sudan-Ethiopia border in the Gambela region. The fighting pits Murle tribesmen from South Sudan against a Nuer group in Ethiopia. Ethiopia claimed that Murle raiders crossed the border and attacked a Nuer village. The raiders stole cattle and killed several hundred Nuer. The Ethiopian Nuer report that they are trapped between the Nuer and ethnic Ethiopians (referred to as “highlanders”) who resent Nuer presence in Ethiopia.

April 24, 2016: Sudan has once again raised the disputed Halayeb and Shalateen Triangle border issue with Egypt. Sudan apparently sees Egypt’s decision to give Saudi Arabia two Red Sea islands as a diplomatic opportunity. Sudan said that it would favor international arbitration to resolve the Shalateen Triangle dispute. The source of the dispute is Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali’s decision in 1820 to put Sudan under his direct political authority. Sudan exercised de facto control over the Shalateen Triangle from 1899 to 1958 because a 1909 survey placed the region in Egyptian territory. In 1958 Egypt reasserted control.

April 22, 2016: In Sudan two days of protests sparked by the killing of a university student have rocked the city of El Obeid. Kordofan University is located in the city. Intelligence officers allegedly shot and killed the student on April 18. Protests have spread to Khartoum and Nyala (South Darfur state). Several thousand students have participated in the protests. At least 27 people have been injured in the protests.

April 21, 2016: Ethiopian soldiers have surrounded the villages of Jior and Kok (Gambela state). Ethiopian observers reported that an armed group kidnapped around 125 children and is hiding in the villages.

April 17, 2016: In South Sundan the chief of staff of the rebel forces arrived in the capital accompanied by another contingent of soldiers. The rebels now have 1,370 troops in Juba. The rebel soldiers will provide security for former rebel leaders serving in the transitional government

April 16, 2016: Ethiopian troops fought with a South Sudanese Murle tribal militia along the Ethiopia-Sudan border (Gambela region). Recently about 140 people have died because of ethnic fighting in the area.

April 16, 2016: Sudan said it hoped South Sudan would form its transitional government as soon as possible. Sudan wants South Sudan to begin implementing cooperation agreements signed by the two countries.

April 14, 2016: In South Sudan soldiers clashed with rebel forces in Unity state. A rebel spokesman accused the government of attacking rebel positions in the Turkiel, Waak and Manluo areas.

April 13, 2016: Sudan announced that the referendum conducted in the Darfur region has been completed. The government believes the 1994 decision to divide Darfur into three states had helped ignite political opposition in the region. Referendum supporters wanted to take five current states and form one large Darfur state. Turnout was reportedly high. Since 2003, an estimated 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfyr fighting and over 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes. The security situation in parts of Darfur remains fragile.

April 12, 2016: In Sudan the SPLM-N rebels proposed holding a global conference to coordinate opposition to building water dams in northern Sudan. The SPLM-N said that long-standing communities will be displaced by the construction of three dams.

April 11, 2016: The United States condemned the South Sudan Army for attacking a rebel cantonment area in the town of Numatina (Wau County). The U.S. statement called the attack a clear violation of the ceasefire. Elsewhere in South Sudan Unity state security forces negotiated the return of over 300 head of cattle that had been stolen by armed Misseriya tribesmen (a semi-nomadic group that mostly lives in Sudan). Misseriya leaders decided to intervene and persuade the raiders to return the cattle.

April 9, 2016: The United States criticized Sudan government for its planned April 11-13 referendum in Darfur to determine the political future of Darfur.

April 8, 2016: In Sudan the upcoming Darfur referendum is controversial on all sides. Some in the government are critical of it. Most Darfuri tribes call it suspicious. Rebel groups oppose it. Basically, the referendum proposes to unify the five states that comprise the Darfur region.

April 7, 2016: South Sudan rebels now have over 900 soldiers in or around the capital. The soldiers are providing security for rebel leaders returning to Juba, especially supreme leader Riek Machar.

April 6, 2016: Sudan dictator Omar al Bashir is now claiming that he will step down form power in 2020 when his current presidential term ends. He remains under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and war crimes.

April 4, 2016: In Sudan SPLM-N rebels accused the Sudanese Air Force of launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians in South Kordofan state. A MiG fighter bombed a medical facility in Upper Komo village. An Antonov bomber dropped 13 bombs on targets in Um Dorain County.

In South Sudan pro-government forces in Unity state (new state of Northern Leich) accused rebel forces of attacking government forces near the town of Bentiu.

 

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