Tensions rise again between Khartoum and Juba over Abyei administration

(Sudan Tribune) – Days before the resumption of talks on the outstanding issues, Khartoum has accused Juba of unilaterally appointing a new administration in Abyei, and decided to send a steering committee too in the disputed area. Discussions between Sudan and South Sudan teams in the African Union mediated process failed to form a new administration in line with the Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area (TAASAA) signed on 20 June 2011.Khartoum vetoes the establishment of Abyei administration which should be led by someone nominated by Juba, due to Juba refusal to accept the designation of its nominee for the chairmanship of the area’s assembly as it was agreed in the TAASAA. Majid Yak Kur, deputy chairman of Abyei steering committee in Khartoum told the official SUNA that the Sudanese presidency has directed the members of this panel, appointed in past by President Omer Al-Bashir after the seizure of the area in May 2011, to travel to the disputed territory and to resume its activities on the ground. He further added that the member of the steering committee, headed by Ahmed Hassan Al-Imam, are preparing to go to Abyei. The Sudanese official reaffirmed they totally reject Juba’s unilateral decision which breaches 20 June agreement. He pointed out that it comes in anticipation of the outcome of Addis Ababa talks which are expected to resume next Sunday on 26 August. Juba refuses to concedes the position of speaker of Abyei regional assembly saying Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir refuses to honour a pledge he made to the late Ethiopian prime minister to appoint to this position a Dinka Ngok member of the National Congress Party. Sudan denies such claims. The mediation will hold a presidential summit at the end of September where presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir are called to discuss mainly the issue of Abyei and the organisation of a referendum there.

Powerful South Sudanese military leader dies: official

(Reuters) – A powerful South Sudanese army officer and former militia leader influential in some of the country’s richest oil regions during its long civil war with the north has died, officials said on Wednesday. Paulino Matip, deputy commander in chief of South Sudan’s national army, was a key figure in the civil war that killed an estimated 2 million people and left the now-independent South one of the world’s least developed countries. Backed by Khartoum, Matip had split from the southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) during the war and battled factions of the rebel army in areas of the oil-rich UnityState. He rejoined the SPLA in 2006 under President Salva Kiir’s “big tent” policy of reconciliation to unite the South after the peace deal. Matip “contributed a lot to the unity and reconciliation in this country,” South Sudan’s Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters after announcing he had died in Kenya of a “long illness” while waiting to fly to the United States for treatment. His body is due to be flown to Juba on Friday for burial.

Meles’ Death Loss for Sudan Peace Process

(VoA) – The United States says the death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is a loss for the peace process in Sudan and South Sudan. But it could bring about an improvement in human rights inside Ethiopia. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi played an active role in helping end the long-running civil war in Sudan. The U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, says his passing is a great loss. “He was always a source of great counsel, wisdom,” said Lyman.  “But he also played a very dramatic role in helping bring about stability in Sudan and South Sudan, most particularly in providing peacekeepers to the troubled area of Abyeh.” Meles also backed African Union peacekeeping efforts in neighboring Somalia. The United States has lost an important ally, says the National Democratic Institute’s Africa expert Christopher Fomunyoh. “You have Somalia which is a failed state in the East, Sudan, which for many years was in the state of civil war, so Ethiopia became the anchor in that part of the African continent. I think the US is going to look for ways to maintain this relationship with Meles’ replacement,” Fomunyoh noted. Successive U.S. presidents, however, expressed concern about the prime minister’s repression of political dissent. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Washington hopes Ethiopia’s new leaders will improve human rights. “We have not been shy about expressing concern where it is necessary, particularly with regard to journalists’ freedom, human rights, etcetera,” said Nuland.  “So you will note that there is a reference to that in the public statements that we’re making today, and we would always look for further improvements that can strengthen the system and support for people across Ethiopia.” Human rights abuses leave Prime Minister Meles with a mixed record, says Christopher Fomunyoh. Fomunyoh says Meles never found the balance between the growth of commerce and the expansion of civil liberties.

“In Africa, our leaders ought to be able to realize that economic development as well as political development are mutually reinforcing,” Fomunyoh added.  “They are not mutually exclusive.”

South Sudan Defends Declaration of Three Days of National Mourning for Ethiopian Leader

(All Africa) – South Sudan on Wednesday defended its decision to declare three days of national mourning in honour of the Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, who died on Monday. There is speculation as to the circumstances of Zenawi’s death but it is believed to have taken place due to natural causes in a Brussels hospital. South Sudan extended its condolences to Ethiopia after the death. Public opinion about the decision to have an extended period of South Sudanese national mourning has received mixed responses. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s minister of information and broadcasting at a news conference on Tuesday, said the government had received the news of Zenawi’s death “with regret” but that “people will be doing their normal duties at work places; the holiday does not mean you stay at home but in your work while you mourn this great leader who was a very close friend to this country.” Marial announced that the country’s president, Salva Kiir, had sent official condolences to the family of late Ethiopian leader as well as his friends and people of Ethiopia. Marial also lauded Zenawi’s role in the peace accords reached between Juba and Kharoum.

South Sudan: Ship Carrying Over 2,000 Returnees Arrives in Jonglei

(All Africa) – A ship carrying over 2,000 South Sudanese returnees arrived in Bor, the Jonglei state capital on Wednesday from Renk in Upper Nile state, after months of difficulties at the border. Sudan Tribune spoke to Abraham Maker, one of the chiefs on the ship, who described their conditions. He said the ship was over-loaded with luggage, leaving insufficient space for the passengers, some of whom went the “whole night without sleeping”. This also led to passengers falling over-board, who were subsequently rescued, according to Maker. The corpses of two passengers who died onboard were carried on the ship for two days before an appropriate burial ground was found, said Maker. For members of the Dinka ethnic group a traditional burial involves the shaving of the deceased’s head and pointing it eastwards in dry ground. The unavailability of dry land led to the corpses being carried onboard, in a state of decomposition. Maker called upon NGOs and the government to provide emergency craft for the repatriation process as “we shouldn’t have lost our dear ones”. Another chief onboard, James Marial, said thousands of people still stranded at the border waiting for an a ship to take them home, provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with South Sudan government sponsorship. Describing the difficulties before reaching the ship, one passenger claimed they struggled to bring their grandchild with them, as local Sudanese authorities in Rebek thought that his light complexion meant he was of Arab descent and therefore not South Sudanese. Sudan Tribune saw many of the children upon disembarkation form the boat emaciated after their ordeal. Another ship carrying thousands of people is expected to arrive in Bor in a few days according to the new arrivals. The two ships will continue their journey to Juba on the 24 August.

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