There are no famines anymore, unless people want them.
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
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
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.
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.
Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta held a round of talks with Kiir before the weekend but with Machar’s whereabouts unknown and the rebels apparently divided, their hopes of ending the hostilities through negotiations may prove elusive.
Two weeks of fighting are believed to have left at least 1,000 dead and split the landlocked country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan.
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.
An American military aircraft flying into Bor on a rescue mission was shot at on Sunday, wounding to soldiers. A White House statement later that day warned, “Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community.”
The United States backed South Sudan’s secession from the Arab north in July 2011. The two Sudans have since remained at odds over the oil-producing provinces that are situated on the border between them. North Sudan needs its remaining oil production to meet domestic demand. Landlocked South Sudan accounts for roughly two-thirds of the former country’s oil output but needs access to northern pipelines and port facilities to sell overseas. Its main customer is China which, despite repeated pleas from Juba, has refused to intervene in the conflict.
South Sudan’s output of 245,000 barrels per day supplies almost all government revenues and hard currency to buy food and other imports.
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.