Ethiopia and Egypt have called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to suspend International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir.
The call was made by top diplomats of the respective countries at the UN. Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The two diplomats were reacting to a report presented to the UNSC by the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urging the council to expedite action on the situation in Sudan.
The case against the president of Sudan is so weak, its continuation makes no sense, in fact, it will only damage the credibility of this council.
The South Sudan Tribune reports that the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN, Tekeda Alemu expressed disappointment at how the ICC was conducting its activities.
“The Council should do its part, including by exerting pressure on armed movements to put an end to the suffering of the people of Darfur,” Alemu said whiles calling on rebel groups in the Dafur region to lay down their arms.
“The case against the president of Sudan is so weak, its continuation makes no sense, in fact, it will only damage the credibility of this council. For the lack of action concerning the matter will be not consistent with the primary responsibility that the council has for the international peace and security,” he concluded.
For his part, Egypt’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, reechoed the call for ICC proceedings against al-Bashir to be suspended.
“The Court must be careful not to jeopardise peace and security on the African continent,” he is quoted to have said.
The war in Darfur is a major armed conflict in the region, it began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.
The ensuing clashes resulted in massive deaths and displacement, the reason for which the Sudanese leader, Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
May 20, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government forces killed 114 civilians in Yei, a town located about 100 miles from the capital, Juba between July 2016 and January 2017, the United Nations said.
Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers singing pro-war song (AFP file photo)
The U.N, in a new report, also documented various crimes of rape, looting and torture, allegedly committed by government forces in and around Yei town.
"Attacks were committed with an alarming degree of brutality and, like elsewhere in the country, appeared to have an ethnic dimension," partly reads a section of the U.N investigation report.
Yei, a relatively peaceful region until mid-last year, has lately been experiencing lots of clashes between government forces and the armed opposition troops loyal to ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar.
The U.N investigations report also highlights various cases of sexual violence, including rape, allegedly committed by pro-government forces on women and young girls in and around the town of Yei.
"In view of the restrictions of access faced by (the UN), the number of documented cases may only be a fraction of those actually committed. Some of the human rights violations and abuses committed in and around Yei may amount to war crimes and/or crimes against humanity and warrant further investigation,” it says.
ARMY DENIES ALLEGATIONS
South Sudan army spokesperson Colonel Santo Domic Chol has, however, dismissed the U.N report, describing it as “baseless”.
"This is not the first time the UN has accused the SPLA and tried to portray us as enemies of the people," Chol told Reuters.
“The SPLA is one of the biggest military institutions in the country and it accommodates people from different background and the whole SPLA cannot go out and rape citizens... so it has to be specific that we have seen two or three SPLA soldiers in such location committing such crimes,” he added.
The military official said President Salva Kiir ordered all army commanders in Yei to punish soldiers who committed gender-based violence.
Last week, two U.N agencies appealed to donors to step up support for people fleeing crisis-hit South Sudan as the $1.4 billion response plan remains 86 percent unfunded.
According to the U.N, the situation in war-torn South Sudan continues worsening, with a combination of conflict, drought and famine leading to further displacement and a rapid exodus of people fleeing one of the world’s most severe crises.
South Sudan has reportedly now become the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with more than 1.8 million refugees, including one million children, having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
South Sudan has witnessed renewed clashes between forces loyal to South Sudan President Kiir and the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) backing the country’s former First Vice-President, in spite of the August 2015 peace deal.
The dry season has ended in Sudan and SPLM-N rebels the government is preparing to start new offensive operations in the Nuba Mountains of Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Previous fighting in the Nuba Mountains has disrupted farming and foreign aid groups expect a new wave of refugees later this Spring. The famine threat in South Kordofan is particularly dire because the 2016 harvest there was poor. The threat of violence and existing food shortages means conditions in the state will get worse.
March 27, 2017: The war in Sudan’ Darfur region sputters on. This month the UN organized another peace conference that focused on conflicts in North Darfur state but included tribal leaders from South, Central and West Darfur states. One of the key issues was the passage of nomadic pastoralists through farming areas. Another was law enforcement.
March 26, 2017: Sudan said it will conduct a series of air force exercises with Saudi Arabia from March 29 to April 12. They will be conducted in northern Sudan (the Meroe area). The two nations agreed to the exercise last year. Saudi Arabian Typhoon and F-15 fighters will participate. The exercises are another indication that Sudan and Iran are no longer allies.
March 25, 2017: South Sudan said it would agree to a ceasefire with rebels but the offer was rejected as a “non-starter” and mere propaganda. The government is facing mounting criticism for its failure to address the famine.
Six aid workers were killed in an ambush in South Sudan as they were traveling from the capital, Juba, to the town of Pibor.
March 25, 2017: The NMLC a Nuba rebel organization in South Kordofan has demanded the right to self-determination for the Nuba Mountain region. The NMLC said it supports dissolving the rebel movements’ current governing secretariat. Observers said this demand is tantamount to an NMLC withdrawal from the SPLM-N (the umbrella orgaization for nearly all South Sudan rebels). The NMLC said it lacks confidence in current SPLM-N leadership. The NMLC, however, does not control military operations. So far SPLM-N military officers in South Kordofan have not commented on the NMLC demand.
March 23, 2017: The UN said South Sudan’s government must respond “to the needs of South Sudan’s people” and address the famine that is gripping the country. On February 20 the UN officially declared a famine in South Sudan and claimed that 100,000 people are currently starving. One million more people face starvation. Aid groups estimate that 4.9 million people in South Sudan will need “food related assistance.” All told from 40 to 50 percent of South Sudan’s population faces food shortages. The UN did not blame the government for causing the famine. In late February an American official called the food crisis in South Sudan “man-made.” That is largely true. The U.S. statement doesn’t explicitly blame the government. Rebel groups have also disrupted farming and they also steal food aid. However, several aid groups do say South Sudan’s government is largely responsible for the deteriorating situation. The government uses food as a weapon to depopulate and weaken areas controlled by the rebels. (Austin Bay)
March 22, 2017: A new Ethiopian general has assumed command of the UN peacekeepers for Abyei. This force of 5,326 troops was created in 2011 to monitor the disputed area (Abyei) and local civilians wnile protecting foreign workers. The workers include humanitarian aid workers and personnel working in Abyei’s oil fields.
South Sudan rebels are threatening to arrest oil company workers in Upper Nile state. The threat came after the government signed a new exploration agreement for Block B3 on March 6. The South Sudan rebels control several oil fields in the state.
Ugandan media claimed a South Sudanese military intelligence officer survived an assassination attempt in Uganda by disarming his attackers. South Sudanese police confirmed the attack and claimed the two would-be assassins were South Sudanese citizens unhappy with changes the South Sudan government has made.
March 19, 2017: South Sudan’s Aweil state acknowledged that famine conditions in the area have forced several thousand people to flee north to refugee camps in Sudan. This is really the third wave of refugees to leave the region. Sudan’s Eastern Darfur state already has around 80,000 South Sudanese refugees. Medical aid workers in South Sudan recently reported that they are seeing an increasing number of cases of malnutrition among children.
March 18, 2017: An Ethiopian diplomatic delegation has arrived in South Sudan’s capital to help South Sudan search for kidnapped Ethiopians who were seized by ethnic Murle raiders earlier this month. The victims (all children) are believed to be in South Sudan’s Boma state.
March 17, 2017: The NSF, a rival to SPLM-IO (the main South Sudanese rebel group) continues to grow. General Faiz Ismail Futur announced that he has resigned from the SPLM-IO and joined the NSF. Futur had commanded SPLM-IO units in the Western Bahr al-Ghazal region. He said that the SPLM-IO had ignored conditions in his area and failed to supply his forces. He also criticized SPLM-IO leaders for practicing the same tribalism the government is accused of. The current SPLM-IO leader is a member of the Nuer tribe. The South Sudan president is a Dinka, which is South Sudan’s most numerous ethnic group while the Nuer are second largest. Futur called the SPLM-IO leader a dictator. The NSF is led by a general from the Equatoria region. NSF leaders has accuse SPLM-IO leaders of destroying South Sudan. Several other SPLM-IO leaders and military officers have left the organization and joined the NSF.
March 15, 2017: Ethiopia reported that over a thousand South Sudanese gunmen have entered Ethiopia’s Glabella region March 12 and March 13 and killed 28 people while also abducting 43 children. South Sudan confirmed that and identified the raiders as Murle tribesmen. Ethiopia said some of the raiders were still inside Ethiopia and Ethiopian troops were pursuing them. A similar attack occurred last year and the Ethiopian Army entered South Sudan.
March 14, 2017: The UN is investigating new reports of misbehavior in South Sudan. Both government and rebels have been accused of making unlawful arrests, torturing victims and committing rape.
Chinese UN peacekeepers rescued seven UN civilian enokoyees who were trapped in a hotel in Yei River state. Fighting had erupted in Yei between the soldiers and rebels. The firefight was only 200 meters from the UN base in Yei where the peacekeepers were stationed. The Chinese peacekeepers left the base and brought the civilians back to the base without loss.
March 13, 2017: Some foreign aid workers in the area claim that religious organizations like the Catholic Church have become the only functional civil institutions in South Sudan. The aid workers note that the Catholic Church is helping deliver food and other aid when the government has failed. Right now about 40 percent of South Sudan’s population is facing a serious food shortage. Foreign aid workers note that churches have a broader reach than even the UN, which tends to focus on certain specific areas. Churches do suffer attacks, but they also manage to negotiate local peace agreements which permit the distribution of aid. (Austin Bay)
March 12, 2017: In the northeast oil-producing region (Bich state) South Sudanese troops and rebels fought a battle that left at least 23 dead, including two rebel officers.
March 9, 2017: The Cobra Faction in South Sudan has joined the NSF. The Cobra Faction signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014. The Cobra Faction still believes the government has been guilty of encouraging tribal fighting by supplying pro-government tribal factions with weapons and other support.
March 8, 2017: Rebels are accusing a specific South Sudan government military unit of committing atrocities in Yei River state. This areas is near South Sudan’s border with Uganda and Congo (southwest of Juba). Rebels say the Matiang Anyoor unit is manned by ethnic Dinka soldiers and is supposed to be part of South Sudan’s army. In practice Matiang Anyoor operates more like an ethnic Dinka militia. The government denied that any of its troops had committed atrocities in Yei. Leaders of South Sudan’s Azande tribe are criticizing the government for favoring the Dinka tribe and promoting “Dinka domination.” The Azande claim that Dinka soldiers attacked them in Gbudue state (southwestern South Sudan) near the Congo border. Meanwhile, there are reports of more conflicts between the Dinkas and other tribes in Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria states. The Western Equatoria region is one of South Sudan’s most productive agricultural areas.
March 2, 2017: A slow power struggle continues in Sudan where the government has a prime minister for the first time in 28 years. But the prime minister is an old face: First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh, who is supposed to be responsible for reforming the government. That assignment was made by the president (Omar al-Bashir) who is really a dictator. Bashir and the political opposition have fundamental disagreements over the composition of the new government and what constitutes reform.
March 1, 2017: Darfur SLM-MM rebels are demanding Sudan government officials indicted for committing war crimes in the Darfur region be arrested. Those indcited (for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide) include Omar al-Bashir and several of his key aides.
February 28, 2017: Ethiopian security forces stopped an attack on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) complex. The GERD is on the Nile River near the Ethiopia-Sudan border. Security personnel intercepted 20 members of an Ethiopian rebel group. (Benishangul Gumez Peoples Liberation Movement) and killed 13 of them as they approached the dam. The other seven fled into Sudan where local police arrested them. The seven were then turned over to Ethiopia. Ethiopian authorities said the group had assembled in Eritrea and had orders to disrupt construction of the dam.
February 26, 2017 (PAGAK) - South Sudan rebels have accused government forces of allegedly looting and burning down villages of civilians around Yuai, a former stronghold of the armed opposition (SPLA-IO) forces.
Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, SPLA spokesperson, is seen at a containment site outside of the capital Juba on April 14, 2016. (AFP Photo)
Col. William Gatjiath Deng says pro-government forces launched another attack on the position held by the SPLA-IO on Saturday morning.
“In response to this aggression, the gallant SPLA-IO forces under the command of Lt General Wang Chiok Koryom of SPLA-IO Sector Three (3) engaged the Juba regime soldiers just as they were leaving Yuai and pursued them towards Wariwar to the west Yuai,” he said in a statement.
It added, “At the time of this press, the gallant SPLA-IO forces have so far counted some fifty-three (53) bodies of dead and rotting Juba regime soldiers, including members of the Sudanese rebels, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and SPLM-North (SPLM-N)”.
He said, two militarily land cruisers mounted with BM12 and 14, each four barrels and a good number of light machine guns were seized in "good conditions".
“It should be recalled that the Juba regime is still trying its best in provoking a regional war. While the Juba regime has succeeded in luring Egyptian air force into bombing SPLA-IO positions in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States, the same regime is asking Ethiopia to counter Egyptian influence in South Sudan,” stressed Col. Deng.
However, the spokesperson for South Sudan army, Brig. Gen Lual Ruai Koang was not immediately available to react to the armed opposition’s claims.
An estimated 3.5 million people have been displaced by conflict in the country and 5 million are in urgent need of food due to conflict and economic instability, aid agencies said early last week.
South Sudanese officials have stepped up rhetoric against Ethiopia in what analyst see as a moment that is developing in the relations between the two countries with a government official at the ministry of information in Juba telling a reporter that his government was not afraid of Ethiopia, according to Nyamile.com report.
Ethiopia has been looking at Kiir’s government in Juba with a second thought lately over South Sudan’s embracement of Egyptian government policy towards the Ethiopian Dam and the Nile water agreement.
An official who is a close aide to the information minister Michael Makuei has said the government of South Sudan was not afraid of Ethiopia and that the country had nothing to explain, adding that the country would press on with its strategic relations with Egypt.
“it’s a normal practise to look out for your own interests, all countries do that. We are ‘not afraid’ of any country, be it within the region (Ethiopia) or beyond, i think our ambassador in Addis Ababa made it clear to them on Ethiopian Broadcasting Television that we do not have to explain anything on our diplomatic relations with other countries” said Atem Deng Makuac an official at the ministry of information in Juba
This Comes just a day after the South Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia was summoned on the national television the Ethiopian Broadcasting Cooperation (EBC) to explain president Kiir’s recent visit to Egypt and to dispel recent rumours that South Sudan and Egypt agreed on a “dirty deal” over Ethiopia’s building of a mega Dam on the river Nile.
The official said the government in Juba would not back down from any deal with the Egyptian government due to their long standing relations.
“Other countries cannot force us to rethink our relations with Egypt, Egypt has supported South Sudan in many occasion, you know it, about their support for our irrigation system, no country in the region has done that, ok? Said Atem Deng Makuac a close aide to the information minister
Atem said Egypt has offered opportunities to South Sudanese, he warned that Ethiopia cannot force or threaten South Sudan because the national interest of the country comes first above anything else.
“They have given scholarships, they are offering other security support now. We cannot be asked to stop cooperating with Egypt be it on the Nile water issues or whatever. Those who are not happy have to rethink” Atem Deng added.
President Salva Kiir visited Egyptian capital last week in a surprise invitationn by his Egyptian counterpart Al Fatah Al-Sisi were they discussed bilateral relations and agreed to work together to support Egypt in it’s campaign on building dams on the Nile river. According to Middle-east news sources the two president’s of Egypt and South Sudan agreed on a “dirty deal” to block or sabotage Ethiopian plans to build a dam on the Nile river. (Nyamilepedia)