South Sudan’s Kiir Reappoints Rival to End Violence

Salva Kiir
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan in Juba, July 9, 2011 (USAID/ Jenn Warren)

South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, reappointed his rival Riek Machar as vice president on Thursday in an attempt to end a year of civil war in Africa’s youngest country.

The two leaders have announced truces in the past only to see their supporters continue to fight.

It is unclear if the latest agreement, which restores the situation to where it was before last year’s outburst of violence, will be more successful.

Kiir fired Machar in late 2013 after accusing him of plotting a coup.

The conflict between the two men sparked an ethnic tussle, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer people. Thousands were killed and some two million South Sudanese were forced to flee only years after they seceded from Sudan. Read more “South Sudan’s Kiir Reappoints Rival to End Violence”

South Sudan’s Machar Reneges on Truce

Apparently reneging on a ceasefire agreement with South Sudan’s government, former vice president Riek Machar said earlier this week he had formed a “resistance” movement to fight what he described as the “regime” of President Salva Kiir.

“We decided to organize a resistance against the regime,” Machar told Voice of America in a telephone interview, adding that he wants to see free elections and political pluralism take hold in Africa’s youngest country.

“So, yes, if you heard troops in Upper Nile, in Jonglei, in Unity States, in Equatoria saying what I am saying, yes, we are now an organized resistance against the regime,” he said. Read more “South Sudan’s Machar Reneges on Truce”

South Sudan Government, Rebels Agree to Ceasefire

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan in Juba, July 9, 2011
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan in Juba, July 9, 2011 (USAID/ Jenn Warren)

Representatives of South Sudan’s government agreed to a ceasefire with rebels on Thursday, ending more than five weeks of fighting in Africa’s youngest country.

The agreement, which came after weeks of talks in neighboring Ethiopia, calls for an immediate end to military operations and freezes forces in the “place they are in.”

It follows the government’s retaking of Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, earlier this week. Government forces were joined by troops from Uganda to reclaim the oil-producing provinces in the north.

South Sudan’s daily output of 245,000 barrels of oil supplies almost all government revenues and hard currency to buy food and other imports.

Fighting erupted in South Sudan, which seceded from the Arab north in July 2011, between troops local to President Salva Kiir and those backing his former vice president, Riek Machar, in December. Kiir had dismissed Machar after accusing him of plotting a coup.

Making the ceasefire hold could test Machar whose forces are not under a unified command. Some may not feel bound by the truce, especially as the conflict has turned along ethnic fault lines, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer people.

South Sudan Army, Nuer Clash Despite Attempt to Broker Truce

Despite an attempt by regional leaders to broker a truce, South Sudan’s army battled an ethnic militia on Sunday that appeared not to be allied to the country’s renegade former vice president, Riek Machar.

The feared “White Army,” made up of young Nuer fighters who dust their bodies with ash, clashed with government troops in the vicinity of Bor, a town north of the capital Juma from which rebels had been driven out last week.

A rebel spokesman denied that the White Army was controlled by Machar, a Nuer, whose followers oppose President Salva Kiir, a Dinka. The news agency Reuters reported that the militia had dwindled in numbers after Nuer elders and politicians persuaded members to abandon their march on Bor.

Bor was the site of an ethnic massacre of some thousand Dinka at the hands of Nuer fighters, led by Machar, in 1991. He apologized for his part in the atrocity last year. Read more “South Sudan Army, Nuer Clash Despite Attempt to Broker Truce”

South Sudanese Rebels Seize Oil Producing Province

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, January 8, 2011
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, January 8, 2011 (Al Jazeera English)

South Sudanese rebels said on Sunday they had taken control of oil-producing regions in the north, raising fears that the world’s youngest country could see a return to civil war.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s government in Juba said it was still in control of the oilfields themselves but admitted that an army commander in Unity state, which borders north Sudan, had defected to former vice president Riek Machar who was dismissed in July and accused of plotting a coup.

Machar’s rebels earlier seized Bor, a city in Jonglei state north of the capital, which was the scene of an ethnic massacre in 1991. Some 2,000 Dinka, members of President Kirr’s ethnic group, were massacred at the time by Nuer fighters, led by Machar. He apologized for his part in the atrocity last year. Read more “South Sudanese Rebels Seize Oil Producing Province”

Sudan, South Sudan Reach Deal to Resume Oil Exports

South Sudan will be able to resume oil production before the end of the month, the African nation’s oil minister said on Tuesday after negotiations with Arab Sudan concluded successfully.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who led four days of talks between the two Sudans in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, also said that the countries had agreed to restart exports and withdraw their troops from the area surrounding their disputed border.

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan agreed in January to demilitarize the border region.

Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, had suspended its daily petroleum output of some 350,000 barrels a year before amid a price dispute with the north which needs the entirety of its oil production, estimated at 115,000 barrels per day, to meet domestic demand. Khartoum confiscated South Sudanese oil exports in 2012 to make up for what it said where unpaid transit fees.

As recently as last April, hostilities broke out when Sudanese air forces reportedly bombed oilfields near the border and the South raided a town there.

Tuesday’s deal did not finalize ownership of the border areas. Rather a team of African Union experts will make recommendations to the governments in Juba and Khartoum about how to resolve the dispute. Interior ministers from both countries plan to meet next week to discuss the opening of border crossings and ease the movements of citizens between them.

Sudans Agree to Demilitarize Disputed Border Area

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan agreed on Saturday to demilitarize the disputed border area between them.

According to an African Union mediator, Presidents Omar al-Bashir, the military dictator of the largely Arab and Muslim north, and Salva Kiir Mayardit of the partly Christian South agreed after two days of talks in Ethipia “that actions should be taken as soon as possible to implement all the existing agreements unconditionally.”

The institution of a buffer zone was part of the agreement under which the South seceded from the African country. As of Saturday, they had yet to comply with the deal.

A 2005 peace deal failed to permanently resolve the border issue. Most of the former unified Sudan’s oil reserves are situated in the area. Landlocked South Sudan accounts for two-thirds of the country’s oil production but needs access to northern pipelines and port facilities to sell overseas. Its main customer is China which, despite pleas from Juba, has refused to intervene in the dispute. Read more “Sudans Agree to Demilitarize Disputed Border Area”

North, South Sudan Agree Terms of Oil Transfer Deal

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, January 8, 2011
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, January 8, 2011 (Al Jazeera English)

The Sudanese government agreed to transfer Southern Sudanese oil again at a fee of nearly $9.5 per barrel, the Financial Times reports. The South is heavily dependent on petroleum exports which were blocked in recent months by the government in Khartoum over a price dispute.

Landlocked South Sudan has two-thirds of the former unified Sudan’s oil output but needs access to northern pipelines and port facilities to sell overseas.

Despite a 2005 peace deal, possession of oil reserves which are situated near the border remains a source of contention. Khartoum confiscated South Sudanese oil exports in January of this year to make up for what it said where unpaid transit fees. As recently as last April, hostilities broke out with north Sudanese air forces reportedly bombing oilfields and the South attacking a border town.

The Southern government in Juba will pay more than $3 billion in addition to fees to get the oil flowing again. $3 billion more will have to be paid by outsiders to satisfy the government in Khartoum. The United States won’t make up for the shortfall because of economic sanctions that have been imposed on Sudan. China, a major Sudanese oil importer, may have to step in its place but has been reluctant to intervene in the conflict.

China has pledged $8 billion in loans to South Sudan to enable the country to build a pipeline through east Africa so it could rely less on the export infrastructure in the north but the country says it has received only a fraction of the money yet.

South Sudan’s minister in charge of reconciliation urged China in May to play “a more active role” to help resolve disputes over borders and oil exports. “By trying to move away from Khartoum so as to get closer to South Sudan and trying not to get too close to South Sudan so as not to cause displeasure to Khartoum — neither Khartoum nor Juba will be happy with China,” said Pagan Amum Okech.

China doesn’t want to pick sides, fearing a backlash against what is sometimes already perceived as economic exploitation or neocolonialism in the African states where Chinese companies do business.

Moreover, Beijing insists on a foreign policy of noninterference as it has to maintain amicable ties with both governments if it is to continue to buy Sudanese oil.

South Sudan pumps around 350,000 barrels of petroleum per day, according to government data. The north needs the entirety of its oil production, some 115,000 barrels per day, to meet domestic demand. Before the South declared independence last year, Sudan sold more than 60 percent of its oil to China.

South Sudan Wants More Money from Beijing

China is still reluctant to intervene in the border dispute in Sudan. An $8 billion loan that was committed by Beijing has yet to be made to South Sudan while Chinese officials rejected a proposal to finance the construction of a pipeline in the South.

Newly independent South Sudan’s central bank governor, Kornelio Koriom Mayik, told the Financial Times that only a fraction of the money promised by China has arrived yet.

The South Sudanese had hoped that China would help them build a pipeline through east Africa so they won’t have to use export infrastructure in the north anymore. Khartoum confiscated South Sudanese oil sales in January of this year to make up for what it said where unpaid transit fees.

According to Mayik, “The Chinese didn’t agree to build a new pipeline. They said ‘we built one [in the north already], you use it’.”

China has made billions worth of investments on both sides of the border but in the escalating conflict between the two Sudans, it may be forced to pick sides.

South Sudan’s minister in charge of reconciliation urged China in May to play “a more active role” to help resolve disputes over borders and oil exports. “By trying to move away from Khartoum so as to get closer to South Sudan and trying not to get too close to South Sudan so as not to cause displeasure to Khartoum — neither Khartoum nor Juba will be happy with China,” said Pagan Amum Okech.

South Sudan declared independence last year after decades of war with the north. Despite a 2005 peace deal, possession of oil reserves which are situated near the border remains a source of contention. As recently as last month, hostilities broke out again with north Sudanese air forces reportedly bombing oilfields and the South attacking a border town.

Landlocked South Sudan has two-thirds of the former unified Sudan’s oil output but needs access to northern pipelines and port facilities to sell overseas. South Sudan pumps around 350,000 barrels per day, according to government data. The north needs the entirety of its oil production, some 115,000 barrels per day, to meet domestic demand. The Chinese have to maintain stable relations with both governments if they are to continue buying Sudanese oil.