Tuesday, February 19, 2013

South Sudan Vice President Summons Murle Community Leaders in Juba


South Sudan VP summons Murle community leaders in Juba

February 19, 2013 (JUBA) – Murle community leaders were summoned by the country’s Vice President, Riek Machar, following the brutal killing of 118 people in Akobo County, which was carried out by the Pibor county-based rebels.

The group of uniformed predominantly Murle rebels loyal to David Yauyau intercepted and killed 104 Lou-Nuer civilians, mostly women and children, while they were on their seasonal migration from Walgak area to water sources north of Akobo county.

South Sudanese army (SPLA) also lost 14 soldiers in the attack while trying to repel the attackers.

The incident is a setback to the ongoing efforts to reconcile the rival communities in the state, officials say.

On Sunday, South Sudan’s Vice-President Riek Machar led a high-level security and humanitarian delegation to the scene of the attack where they paid their condolences to the bereaved families and reassured the affected populations of the government’s commitment to disarm all the civil populations in the state.

During the visit of the Vice-President to Walgak, chiefs and elders in the area expressed frustration over what they said was government’s negligence, which left them vulnerable to the “defying” armed Murle community and their home grown rebels of Yauyau.

On Monday after his return from Jonglei, Machar summoned Murle leaders who are officials in the executive and parliament at both national and Jonglei state’s level to consult with them on the role they should play to end insecurity in Pibor county.

In a statement to the press after the meeting, Ismail Konyi, a Murle elder and member of parliament said their delegation briefed the Vice President on their recent efforts on peace in Pibor county.

He said they failed to have direct contact with the rebel leader David Yauyau in their attempt to persuade him to make peace with the government.

Konyi said the Murle leaders were committed to find Yauyau and persuade him to end the rebellion. He however warned that the government may be forced to take other measures to end the rebellion if Yauyau refused to make peace.

The community leaders were also expected to consult with the President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on Tuesday, in the presence of the Vice President and security ministers, on what course of action to take in order to bring the rebellion of Yauyau to an end.

Armed Murle youth have also joined the rebellion to avoid disarmament in Pibor area and are the main source of insecurity to their neighboring communities in a cycle of revenge attacks.

Last year Vice-President Machar thwarted an organized revenge attack on Murle by 12,000 heavily armed youth of Lou-Nuer who accused the government of failure to disarm the neighboring tribe following the killing of hundreds of their community members.

The youth, who then acquired new guns from another Jonglei’s rebel group under the command of late George Athor, publicly revealed that their mission was to capture the whole Pibor County, home of Murle, and impose their authority over the county for three months to disarm them by force on behalf of the government.

The angered youth in December 2011 captured a Murle town of Linkwangole near the Pibor county headquarters and further matched towards other interior parts of Murle areas.



South Sudan’s Kiir seeks to contain growing political crisis in Upper Nile state

February 19, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s president has asked Upper Nile state’s governor Simon Kun Puoc to reverse the expulsion of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) Secretary General at the branch office in the state, a move seen as an attempt to resolve a simmering political dispute between the two officials, according to a senior government source.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (Reuters)
The presidential source, who spoke to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity, also quoted Kiir as calling on the governor not to be influenced by emotions and to retract his decision to expel SPLM SG John Kor Dieu.

He also asked for the reversal of a number of other contentious decrees, including the closure of the state assembly and dismissal of parliament members.

In a letter dated 28 January 2013, which was copied to various senior figures in the ruling party, the governor asked Dieu to leave Upper Nile state within 72 hours, warning that he would face severe consequences if he failed to do so.

“Call and sit down with him so that you resolve it peacefully. Do not let other things be added. I have been told that the secretary-general has already asked you to resolve it. I think this is the way it should be handled, just retract [the decision] so that it avoids creating tension”, Kiir reportedly told Puoc.

The president is said to have given the advice at a meeting with Puoc on Tuesday, during which he was briefed on the general situation in the state and measures being taken by the state administration.

Speaking to reporters shortly after meeting Kiir on Tuesday in Juba, Puoc said he had briefed the president on security and other issues, including construction of a road linking South Sudan with neighbouring Ethiopia from Fangak, food production in the area and internal administrative matters.

Puoc acknowledged that Kiir had asked him to retract his decision regarding the secretary-general before adding that the matter was related to internal administrative issues which he did not want to discuss with the media.

“These are administrative issues. We will [keep] them as administrative matters and I believe a solution will be found. They will be addressed”, Puoc told reporters, without providing further details.

Attempts to expel Dieu came after the governor accused him of collaborating with members of the country’s main opposition party - the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) - to destabilise the state.

The SPLM frequently accuse the SPLM-DC, which broke away from the former rebel movement in 2009, of being backed by the government of neighbouring Sudan, from which the South seceded in 2011.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune earlier this month, Dieu said the governor’s allegations against him were “nonsense” and had been “cooked up”, adding that Puoc wants to run Upper Nile like his “personal property” and had no regard for the rule of law.

The state governor is yet to react to an ultimatum by senior government officials giving him four conditions to resolve the conflict in a reasonable period of time, otherwise they will recommend his removal to the president.

Among those on Monday to petition the president to intervene, in what has been described as a crisis in the state, were South Sudan’s minister of national security in the office of the president, General Oyay Deng Ajak, chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission Peter Lam Both, deputy minister of water resources and irrigation Ali Keta, ambassador Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lol.

Members of parliament in the National Legislative Assembly in Juba representing different counties in the state were also on the list of top-level government officials calling for immediate intervention by the president and accusing the governor of unilaterally closing the state parliament and dismissing the heads of specialised committees and the deputy speaker without legal basis.

“If the governor cannot comply, we would be left with no option but recommend his [dismissal] from the state before [the] situation could escalate further”, the letter which Sudan Tribune has seen reads in part.

Some of the conditions which the president is asked to address include:

• Resolving the problems in Upper Nile between the governor and SPLM secretariat
• Reinstating of chairpersons of the specialised committee who were dismissed by the governor and deputy speaker without due process of the law.
• Reinstating of the government chief whip in the state parliament.
• And withdrawal of his letter ordering the SPLM secretary to leave the state within 72 hours.

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