15 May

S. Sudan conflict mediator asks IGAD to take action…

South Sudan should not waste the opportunity of forthcoming peace talks even though an agreement to end its conflict has been violated several times by warring parties, an international mediator said on Monday.

Despite several agreements and ceasefires, fighting has rumbled on in South Sudan with barely any break since civil war erupted at the end of 2013, just two years after independence.

Troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with forces loyal to Riek Machar, then the vice president. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and much of the nation face dire food shortages.

The government and rebel groups signed the latest ceasefire in December in the Ethiopian capital, aiming to revive a pact reached in 2015. But the truce was violated within hours.

The parties will hold a forum in Addis Ababa from May 17-21 to try to jumpstart the peace process. The forum is organised by the regional East Africa group IGAD.

“This country has missed so many opportunities to make durable peace and we should not allow the High level Revitalisation Forum to be squandered,” Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana said in a speech.

Mogae chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, which was set up to monitor the failed 2015 truce and peace deal implementation. South Sudan has since launched its own national dialogue, while fighting has continued across the country.

He accused the parties of engaging in human rights violations and urged IGAD to take action.

“The parties continue to wage a campaign of defiance and commit human rights abuses with impunity. This is unacceptable and I call on IGAD to make good its promise to hold spoilers accountable,” he said.

Frustrated allies including the United States, European Union and Germany have warned of dire consequences should the peace talks fail.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/14/s-sudan-conflict-mediator-asks-igad-to-take-action-agains-saboteurs-of-peace/

11 May

Stranded South Sudan govt begs U.S. against assistance review

South Sudan’s government urged the United States on Wednesday not to “abandon” the country after Washington said it would review its assistance programs because it could not continue a partnership with leaders perpetuating “endless war”.

“We are asking the United States not to abandon this country (South Sudan) because we need them … their role to assist the population of South Sudan is crucial and cannot be ignored”, said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik.

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, which has been in the throes of a civil war since late 2013 that has displaced around a third of the 12 million-strong population and killed tens of thousands of people.

In a sharply worded statement on Tuesday the White House said the United States was a “proud and hopeful supporter” of South Sudan when it gained independence in 2011.

“Seven years later, the leaders of this country have squandered this partnership … killed their own people, and repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end the country’s civil war.”

The U.S. funding provides aid to millions of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and lifesaving assistance such as food to people still inside the war-torn country.

Washington’s statement says the United States is committed to saving lives but does not want its assistance to “prolong the conflict” or facilitate corrupt behaviour by elites.

Production in some of South Sudan’s oil fields has been shut down due to the conflict, but the government says around 130,000 barrels per day of oil are being produced. Juba spends well more than half ifs budget on weapons and paying soldiers, according to U.N. experts.

To read the full article, click here. 


10 May

UN boss recommends more sanctions against South Sudan

South Sudan risks being slapped with fresh sanctions by the United Nations Security Council following a report by a top UN official, saying leaders in the country are still ‘bent on armed confrontation’.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under Secretary – General for peacekeeping operations told the security council that despite work done by the regional trading bloc, IGAD to facilitate an agreement on a permanent ceasefire, the ‘parties remain far apart on the issues’.

He also highlighted the scale of sexual violence and increasing cases of aggression against humanitarian agencies and their staff. “We must respond and respond quickly to ensure accountability for these violations and abuses and bring an end to these heinous acts once and for all,” stressed the senior UN official.

The Security Council was Tuesday discussing possible renewal of the mandate of the Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts on South Sudan to exert pressure on the warring factions to strike a peace deal.

In a brief statement posted on its official website, the council says a decision on imposing more sanctions would be reached after examining a new report on the situation.

The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, has spent much of the past seven years mired in conflict, riven by a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar that erupted into full-blown war late in 2013.

Kiir recently called on his exiled former deputy to return to the country, saying the government has now chosen the path of forgiveness.

The gesture is a rare ray of hope in a country where agreements and ceasefires have been severally violated by both the government and the rebel groups.

IGAD has also postponed talks to secure the implementation of the peace process, without giving any explanations or setting a new date for the process.

To read the full article, click here.

10 Apr

South Sudan’s Ex-Army Chief Challenges President With Rebel Group

South Sudan’s former army chief Paul Malong formed a rebel group aimed at toppling President Salva Kiir’s administration, which it holds responsible for the nation’s economic and political crisis.

Malong was appointed by Kiir in 2014 to lead a military campaign against rebels of former vice president Riek Machar, only to be fired last year and exiled to neighboring Kenya.

His army was accused of atrocities against civilians including raping, killing and plundering of properties in war zones, while Malong has been censured by the U.S. for obstructing peacekeeper and humanitarian missions.

The new rebel group, called the South Sudan United Front, is seeking to boost democracy and development in a country that’s been locked in civil war for more than four years, Malong said in a statement Monday.

“The country has become a nest for systematic corruption which has devastated the lives of all citizens on a daily basis,” he said, citing nepotism, the on-going conflict, poor healthcare and a collapsed economy as evidence that Kiir has failed.

The war began in December 2013 and has left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced 4 million others. Crude production has slumped, bringing economic chaos to the oil-dependent country.

While warring parties are expected to resume peace negotiations on April 26, the administration has said it could organize elections for a legitimate government if the opposition drags its feet on the talks.

The talks in neighboring Ethiopia are aimed at reviving a 2015 peace agreement that shattered in July 2016, three months after Machar returned to the capital Juba to deputize Kiir in a transitional government formed to end the war and usher in democratic elections.

He fled South Sudan in December 2016 and has been under house arrest in South Africa since.

“Life has become hard, very hard,” Malong said. “Only the fat cats can provide for themselves.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-09/south-sudan-ex-army-chief-challenges-president-with-rebel-group

06 Apr

The resurgence of Sudan: From zero to…

Sudan has for long been the skunk in Africa. The International Criminal Court issued two arrest warrants against its president, Omar Al-Bashir: five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide. Sudan was also involved, for all practical purposes, in a civil war in Darfur. In 2011, South Sudan voted to secede from Sudan. This was an economic disaster for Sudan as the rich oil fields were in South Sudan. The country has long been struggling, given amongst others, the economic sanctions the USA imposed against it.

According to Trading Economics, Sudan has the sixth-largest GDP in Africa, in spite of US and EU sanctions and embargoes. It has a population of approximately 40 million people. While it has a somewhat subdued GDP growth rate of only 3.5% (relative to some of its neighbours), what is worrying is its inflation rate of 52.4%. It also has an unemployment rate of 13.3%. Its balance of trade is close to negative US$1bn in January 2018.

This article addresses the very recent past of the developments regarding a perceived renewal of interest in Sudan as an investment destination. It will be addressed against the backdrop of the interest shown by China and the USA.

Sudan and the USA
The United States recently lifted a number of sanctions on Sudan, motivated by the perception that Sudan had begun addressing concerns about terrorism and human rights abuses against civilians in its Darfur region. The lifting of sanctions rescinds measures imposed in 1997 related to terrorism concerns and other steps put in place in 2006 in connection with the conflict in Darfur. The sanctions were temporarily eased in January just before President Barack Obama left office, with his administration citing the same progress the Trump administration noted. In July 2017, President Trump extended the review for three months, angering the Sudanese, who stopped some lower-level meetings with USA officials in retaliation, but maintained contacts between senior officials (Morello, 2017).

Lifting the sanctions and ending an economic embargo came after the Trump administration removed Sudan from the list of countries whose citizens are subject to travel restrictions. Other sanctions, however, are still in place for the time being, including those against individuals with arrest warrants related to atrocities committed during the conflict in Darfur. Sudan is also still on the list of state sponsors of terrorism (Morello, 2017).

Read more at How We Made It in Africa

30 Jan

Ethiopia Oil Refinery Planned as Blackstone Pipeline Shelved

Ethiopia’s fast-growing economy has Asian investors lining up to build a new $4 billion oil refinery, even as a Blackstone Group LP-backed fuel pipeline project is shelved.

The proposed 120,000 barrels-a-day plant has generated interest from Japanese, South Korean and Indian investors, said Zemedeneh Negatu, chairman of U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund. The refinery in Awash, east of the capital Addis Ababa, would import crude through neighbouring Djibouti and along a railway recently completed by Chinese state enterprises, he said.

The Asians are “very excited,” said Zemedeneh, declining to name the potential investors who have signed memorandums of understanding. “Some are big commodity trading houses.”

Half of the refinery’s output would be directed to the Ethiopian market, with the remainder exported to neighbouring countries in East Africa, according to Zemedeneh. Fairfax Africa has plans to eventually double the plant’s capacity amid industrial expansion and increased demand for motor vehicles.

Ethiopia recorded annual average economic growth of about 10 percent over the past decade, and the International Monetary Fund estimates expansion at 8.5 percent in the current fiscal year.

There has also been interest from a U.S. financial firm in a project in which the Ethiopian government would be the sole fuel distributor, Zemedeneh said.

Pipeline On Hold

In 2015, Ethiopia and Djibouti signed framework agreements for the construction of a 550-kilometer (340-mile) pipeline to transport diesel, gasoline and jet fuel to Awash from a port on the Gulf of Aden. The work on that $1.6 billion Blackstone-backed fuel pipeline was put on hold “early last year,” Black Rhino Chief Executive Officer Brian Herlihy said in an emailed response to questions.

Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas Motuma Mekassa didn’t respond to requests for comment. The proposed Fairfax Africa refinery faces competition.

In Ethiopia, the Oromia region’s government has been planning a petroleum company to import oil via Djibouti and process it at a planned refinery linked to the new railway. The company is targeting a 21 percent share of Ethiopia’s fuel market within five years, according to a feasibility study.

Neighboring South Sudan expects operations to begin in 2020 on a 120,000-barrel-a-day refinery with more facilities to follow. To the south, Uganda is moving ahead with a 60,000 barrels-a-day plant that will be supplied with crude from fields being developed by Total SA, Tullow Oil Plc and China’s Cnooc Ltd.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-29/ethiopia-oil-refinery-proposed-as-blackstone-backed-line-shelved