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Violence in South Sudan as Peace Deal Deadline Passes
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, left, and leader of South Sudan’s largest rebel group, former vice president Riek Machar. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images; Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the deadline passing for the South Sudanese President Kiir to sign the peace deal with the leader of South Sudan’s largest rebel group, former Vice President Machar, in order to avoid sanctions from the international community. President Kiir said he needed an extension of 15 days, as violence continued across the country. The United States proposed to the UN that an arms embargo and targeted sanctions go into place on 06SEP if a deal is not signed by President Kiir.
News summary of events on South Sudan during the week of 17AUG15 – 23AUG15
- 17AUG: South Sudan’s President Kiir refused to sign a peace agreement with rebel forces, saying he needs more time. (AP)
- 17AUG: A total of 199,602 civilians are now seeking safety behind the barbed wire of eight peacekeeping bases of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), an increase of a third in just over a month. (AFP)
- 18AUG: Rebels accused South Sudan’s government of resuming military attacks, a day after President Kiir failed to sign a peace deal aimed at ending the civil war. Mr. Kiir’s chief negotiator said the deal was a sell-out that could not be implemented as the rebels are split. (BBC)
- 18AUG: The US put pressure on political leaders in South Sudan by announcing it was consulting with other countries about imposing UN sanctions on anyone who undermined the peace process. (GUARDIAN)
- 19AUG: The US State Department said that South Sudan President Kiir assured US Secretary of State Kerry will sign a peace deal with his rival in days. (AP)
- 19AUG: The chief mediator of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa, Seyoum Mesfin, called Kiir’s delay “mind boggling.” (CSM)
- 20AUG: Gunmen have killed South Sudan reporter Peter Julius Moi by shooting him twice in the back in Juba, days after President Kiir threatened to kill reporters “working against the country.” (BBC)
- 20AUG: Russia said it needs more time to study a draft UN resolution on imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan if President Kiir refuses to sign a peace deal. (AFP)
- 21AUG: Media houses in Juba decided to stage a media blackout for 24 hours in protest of the killing of journalist Peter Julius Moi. (DW)
- 22AUG: President Kiir’s spokesman said the president’s reported threat to kill journalists reporting “against the country” was taken “out of context.” (DPA)
- 23AUG: Al-Jazeera analyzed the famine situation in South Sudan, where according to the UN 4.6 million people do not have enough to eat.
Sample of Twitter handles regarding South Sudan
- @paytonknopf – Former US diplomat now UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan & senior advisor @cmioffice/Martti Ahtisaari Centre.
- @benmoran – Journalist. NY-based. In South Sudan for much of summer 2015. Former/current @pulitzercenter, @IRPChirps, @BrownInstitute.
- @petermartell – AFP’s East Africa + Indian Ocean news editor. Nairobi via Yemen, Eritrea, South Sudan and places in between.
- @_andrew_green – Foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently Uganda.
- @robalancaster – Inside Change. Trustbuilding and ethical leadership programs with Initiatives of Change.
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding South Sudan
Tom Rhodes is CPJ’s East Africa representative, based in Nairobi.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ East Africa representative Tom Rhodes called the killing a “very foreboding sign.” “It is still too early to tell whether there is a link [with Kiir’s remarks], but this tragedy will certainly cast a pall over independent reporting in the country as South Sudanese journalists are increasingly forced to self-censor as a means of survival,” Rhodes said.
– South Sudan journalist killed days after President Kiir issues warning, Deutsche Welle, 21AUG15
Simon Chol Mialith is the Peace Building and Conflict Mitigation Coordinator for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) South Sudan
Aid agencies on Tuesday pleaded for a ceasefire to end the “unimaginable destruction”, in a joint statement from Oxfam, CARE and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). “Without peace, there will only be more fighting, more death,” said Simon Chol Mialith from CARE. “As a nation we are only four years old. I can only pray we will make it to five.”
– South Sudan government slams ‘sellout’ peace proposal, AFP, 18AUG15
Noah Gottschalk is senior policy advisor for humanitarian response at Oxfam America, where he focuses on Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria as well as broader conflict and human rights issues
“In his history-making address at the African Union in Addis Ababa, President Obama made clear that the international community expected the peace agreement to be signed by Aug. 17th, but now that deadline has slipped,” says Noah Gottschalk, a senior humanitarian policy adviser at the international aid group Oxfam. “The people of South Sudan bear the terrible consequences of any further delays, and are watching carefully to see what the U.S. will do to ensure that President Obama lives up to his words and this conflict is finally brought to an end.”
– U.S. Seeks U.N. Sanctions Against South Sudan, US News & World Report, 19AUG15
Oliver Modi is the Chairman of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan
Oliver Modi, the head of the Union of Journalist of South Sudan, led the meeting where the blackout was agreed upon and believes that the intention of such killings is to intimidate journalists. “It is not up to us to find out why he was killed,” said Modi, “but the environment we are working in is not a peaceful environment. We have become the victims of circumstances.”
– Media blackout in South Sudan after journalist killing, Deutsche Welle, 21AUG15
Casie Copeland is an International Crisis Group researcher focused on South Sudan
“The government may not come back with any interest in a deal under any terms,” Ms. Copeland says…..The US, urged by influential Washington lobbyists, has taken a less relaxed approach by threatening sanctions against South Sudanese officials. Copeland says the US tactic risks pushing pro-government hardliners to more extreme positions.
– World pressures South Sudan to end civil war by Sept. 1, Christian Science Monitor, 19AUG15
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to South Sudan
1. S.Sudan talks end without government deal, to resume in 15 days: mediator
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 17 August 2015
Addis Ababa, Aug 17, 2015 (AFP) – South Sudan’s warring rivals failed to strike a full peace deal Monday despite the threat of international sanctions, but the government will return to finalise an agreement within 15 days, the chief mediator said.
However, the secretary-general of the ruling party and rebels signed an agreement committing them to peace.
Top party official Pagan Amum and rebel chief Riek Machar signed a deal, but mediators said Amum was not representing the government. President Salva Kiir watched the signing, after briefly shaking hands with Machar.
2. US, Britain push for UN sanctions on South Sudan
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 18 August 2015
United Nations, United States, Aug 18, 2015 (AFP) – The United States and Britain pushed for UN sanctions Tuesday to punish South Sudan’s government over its failure to sign a peace deal as the Security Council weighed its next move to help end the nearly two-year war.
South Sudan rebel chief Riek Machar signed the power-sharing agreement late Monday but President Salva Kiir only initialed part of it and said he would return to the table in early September to finalize the accord.
The US envoy for political affairs, David Pressman, called the latest failure to end the 20-month conflict “outrageous” and said it was time to pile pressure on those who are blocking a peace deal.
3. ‘Disaster’ for S.Sudan and region without peace deal: AU
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 19 August 2015
Addis Ababa, Aug 19, 2015 (AFP) – South Sudan’s warring rivals will bring “disaster” on themselves and the region if no peace deal is signed, the African Union warned on Wednesday.
The government of the world’s youngest nation has refused to ink the power-sharing deal, despite the threat of sanctions and mounting international frustration at the failure to seal a peace accord.
“Deadlock in the peace process can only spell further disaster for South Sudan and its people, with far reaching implications for regional security and stability,” AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.
4. Russia has ‘reservations’ about US push against South Sudan
Media: Associated Press
Date: 20 August 2015
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia says it has “reservations” about a new U.S. push for a U.N. arms embargo against South Sudan and targeted sanctions.
Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Petr Iliichev also told reporters Thursday that his country has not yet seen the list of people that a draft U.N. Security Council resolution suggests for sanctions.
Iliichev says that China, another permanent council member, “more or less” shares Russia’s stance on the draft that the U.S. circulated Wednesday evening.
5. South Sudan vows to probe journalist’s killing
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 21 August 2015
KHARTOUM, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — South Sudan’s Presidency has vowed to investigate death of a South Sudanese journalist who was recently shot dead in Juba, local South Sudanese media reported Friday.
Last Wednesday, the South Sudanese journalist Moi Peter Julius was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the capital Juba.
The family of the deceased journalist issued a statement in which it said that Julius’ killing was not a normal crime and was not motivated by robbery as his wallet and mobile phone were not stolen.