Date: Thursday, 31 May 2018
IGAD (the East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) South Sudan ceasefire monitors made public more of their monitoring reports. These reports cover incidents since February. The December 2017 ceasefire, which IGAD helped arrange, included monitoring teams that were supposed to release their reports within a month of incidents being investigated. Protests from the government and rebels about the accuracy of these reports led to public release being suspended in February. The monitors continued to work, despite growing interference from soldiers and, to a lesser extent, rebels. IGAD examined the monitoring effort and found nothing wrong and this led to more reports being released. The newly released reports show that ceasefire violations continue to occur, mainly by the army. Attacks against civilians also continue, mainly by soldiers but also by rebels. This includes firing at civilians as well as using fists, edged weapons and fire. There is also a lot of rape and looting plus recruiting teenagers to fight. Both sides proclaim their innocence and blame the monitors for being partisan or simply unfair. What the monitor reports describe is confirmed by eyewitness accounts of civilians and foreign aid workers.
May 28, 2018: In central South Sudan (Western Lakes State) an army colonel was killed during a gun battle with cattle thieves. This sort of violence is common in this area because of long-standing animosity between two Dinka clans (Rup and Pakam). The violence picked up in late 2017 and despite the civil war. The Dinka tribesmen were mainly fighting over cattle and land rights. These disputes are common with the tribes in Sudan and South Sudan and regularly occur in Sudan as well. Western Lakes State is about 250 kilometers northwest of Juba, South Sudan's capital. These tribal clashes also occur in refugee camps outside South Sudan and sometimes result in deaths.
In South Sudan leaders of another rebel faction (SSUF/A) came to the capital to accept government jobs. This was the result of SSUF/A signing a peace deal on the 21st. The rebels insist that those who signed the peace deal were not really members of SSUF/A.
May 27, 2018: The UN Security Council imposed political and financial sanctions on South Sudan’s defense minister, Kuol Manyang Juk. The Security Council determined Juk was responsible for ceasefire violations, failure to protect civilians and for denying humanitarian organizations adequate access to people in need. The UN also said that Juk had conspired to have Sudanese SPLM-N rebels enter South Sudan and attack a South Sudanese rebel base in the town of Pagak. The SPLM-N is fighting the Sudan government in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The UN also imposed sanctions on South Sudan cabinet member Elia Lomoro for obstructing humanitarian assistance operations and physically threatening journalists operating in the country who are critical of the South Sudanese civil war. The Security Council also accused Lomoro of attempting to obstruct UN peacekeeping operations. The UN also sanctioned rebel leader General Koang Rambang Cho for conducting an attack in Bieh state with the goal of stopping a humanitarian aid mission.
May 26, 2018: Ethiopian security personnel intercepted a weapons smuggling attempt from Sudan. They seized thousands of rounds of ammunition and 116 weapons.
May 24, 2018: In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, IGAD negotiators have suspended their latest attempt to revive South Sudan’s August 2015 peace deal. The government and rebels remain very far apart.
The Sudan government announced that its military forces will continue to participate in the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran backed Shia rebels in Yemen. Sudan has about 3,000 soldiers in Yemen as well as several jet fighters.
May 23, 2018: Sudan denied Eritrean accusations that it is supporting armed anti-Eritrean rebels. Eritrea recently claimed that Sudan was coordinating its support for Eritrean rebels with Eritrea’s greatest enemy, Ethiopia. Sudan also denies that accusation.
May 22, 2018: The South Sudan rebels rejected a power-sharing proposal with the South Sudan government. Mediators from IGAD had backed the proposal. However, the rebels contended the proposal gave the government too much power. Sporadic fighting continues throughout South Sudan. Was this lose-lose? Maybe not. In the last week, it appears the government has suffered more political setbacks than the rebels. The UN has imposed new individual sanctions on key government officials. Yes, a rebel official was also sanctioned. However, the U.S. is publicly mulling imposing new sanctions on the government. The UN sanctions on senior government officials and the U.S. threats mean the South Sudan government is under more pressure than the rebels. In the last six weeks, several African media sources have begun referring to the government as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Government (SPLM-IG) which portrays the situation as more of a civil war than a rebellion. That looks like an information warfare win for the rebels. (Austin Bay)
May 21, 2018: In Sudan, foreign aid groups claim that the government’s Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia launched an attack on a displaced persons camp in western Sudan (Central Darfur state). The RSF fighters attacked the camp supported by five technical vehicles (trucks armed with machine guns).
May 19, 2018: UN and East African diplomats reported that fractionalization is increasing among South Sudan rebel groups in the former Upper Nile state and the “Equatoria” states (Amadi, Gbudwe, Imatong, Jubek, Maridi, Namorunyang, Terekeka and Yei River states). There are also reports of forced conscription in South Sudan, by both the government and the rebels.
May 17, 2018: The UN ordered an additional 150 peacekeepers to northern South Sudan (Unity state) with the mission of protecting civilians trapped between government and rebel forces.
In southern South Sudan (Yei River state) foreign aid workers report that gunmen attacked Emmanuel Christian College and killed ten people, including five students. The attackers plundered the school and raped a young woman.
May 16, 2018: Sudan accepted delivery of six Chinese FTC2000 jet trainer/light attack aircraft. FTC2000 is the export version of the JL-9 trainer used by Chinese forces.
Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to create a scientific committee to study the potential effects on the Nile River or Ethiopia’s $4-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
May 14, 2018: The UN now classifies 7.1 million people in Sudan as vulnerable. That classification means these people are no longer completely dependent on humanitarian assistance, but their situation remains marginal. If conditions deteriorate even slightly they will once again become dependent on international food and medical assistance. The UN attributes the slight improvement to better security conditions in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and in the Darfur region.
May 13, 2018: Kenya said that it is still hesitant to impose new sanctions on South Sudan. Kenyan leaders want IGAD to have every opportunity to negotiate a new peace deal in South Sudan and they fear new sanctions will hinder IGAD.
May 9, 2018: Sudan rejected Egyptian accusations that it had undermined recent negotiations regarding Nile River water rights and Ethiopia’s GERD.
May 7, 2018: South Sudan’s first vice-president, Taban Deng Gai, announced that his political faction would formally join the government. Gai had been a senior figure in the main rebel coalition (SPLM-IO).
May 6, 2018: In Sudan widespread dissent continues with the jump in fuel prices a major issue. The fuel crisis began to bite in early March as fuel supplies plummeted. The cause is complex. A lack of refinery capacity is one reason. The government also lowered fuel subsidies. The government is reportedly negotiating a deal with Saudi Arabia to sell Sudan oil at discounted prices for five years. Sudan has soldiers fighting with the Saudi coalition in Yemen.
May 4, 2018: Sudan accused South Sudan rebels of attacking a town in eastern Sudan (Latjoor state) and violating the cessation of hostilities agreement negotiated to keep the oil producing areas safe.
May 1, 2018: There are reports that the Russian Wagner Group of military contractors will establish a training facility in Sudan. The company will provide training for presidential security personnel.
April 30, 2018: Ten aid workers abducted in southern South Sudan (Yei River state) last week have been released. They were kidnapped in the town of Yei on April 25.
April 25, 2018: President Salva Kiir of South Sudan rejected political opposition demands that he resign. The opposition contends Kiir himself is an obstacle to peace.