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Uganda president calls for peace in neighbouring South Sudan

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has urged leaders in neighboring South Sudan to unite and work for peace in the country.

In a state house statement issued here, Museveni said the people of South Sudan need peace for economic transformation and development.

Museveni on Friday morning met a delegation from South Sudan led by the new First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, minister of defence and veteran affairs Kuol Manyang Juuk and South Sudan Ambassador to the United Nations Akuei Bona Malwal.

The delegation said that relative calm has returned to the troubled nation and that the parliament has reopened and is fully operational.

They said their government has embarked on a program to implement the peace agreement and they are working on building cohesion in the Presidency and making reforms for the country.

A new round of fighting erupted in the capital Juba on July 8 between forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former First Vice President Riek Machar, killing hundreds and forcing thousands to flee to neighboring countries.


South Sudan sentences 77 soldiers on murder, rape and looting charges

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan Army (SPLA) has convicted and sentenced 77 of its soldiers on charges of murder, rape and looting to imprisonment and death, its spokesman said.

Spokesman Lul Ruai Koang told journalists in Juba that majority of the soldiers sentenced committed these crimes during the eruption of intense fighting on July 8 in the capital between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and sacked former First Vice President Riek Machar.

"A total of 77 SPLA soldiers have been sentenced, some to death, some to so many years in prison.

"Two have been sentenced to 14 years in prison including a captain who was accused of rape.

"Another soldier accused of murder has been sentenced to death by firing squad," Koang explained.

The soldiers were read to their charges ranging from theft, looting, loitering and embezzlement at a parade amid tight security.

"This was a culmination of a legal process that took three months.

"After the July clashes the military leadership formed the General Court Martial (GCM) to try SPLA soldiers accused of different crimes," said Koang.

He said the GCM cited the SPLA Act 2009 to punish those who committed crimes.

"We are serious about those who have been tarnishing the name of SPLA.

"The message will be a deterrent to those who are still serving the SPLA that days of impunity are long gone," Koang said.

He added that 31 of the sentenced soldiers were dismissed from the military and will serve their prison sentences in civil prisons.

The intense fighting that forced the rebel leader Machar to flee the capital with his troops left about 300 people killed and thousands displaced.

"Massive looting of shops, rape, and vandalizing of properties were also reported.

The renewed clash left the fragile peace agreement signed in August 2015 in tatters after Machar was replaced with Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President.


Expert urges South Sudan to improve economy for peace to prevail

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan cannot proceed ahead with peace and reconciliation without improved living conditions despite attempts for creation of the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH), according to a UN expert.

The Country Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Jean Luc Stalon said here on Thursday that peace cannot be achieved without improving human security and living conditions of the vast majority of the population displaced by the more than two years conflict in oil-rich youngest nation.

"I want to say that all these issues I have said cannot be done in isolation.

|When I am saying you address truth, reconciliation and healing you cannot heal an empty stomach.

"If somebody has no income, job, not in good health and suffering you cannot talk to him on truth and healing," Stalon told journalists.

He said security sector reform was needed to enhance human security in the country.

"We need to take care of security sector reform in a manner that will enhance human security.

"We need to address the issue of small arms they cannot be everywhere because they undermine security," he revealed.

Stalon disclosed that they have made progress toward creating conducive environment for justice and reconciliation in the country by moving toward establishment of the CTRH.

However, he decried the weakness in the country’s justice system which he said was failing to clear the backlog of cases hence delaying justice.

"Access to justice is a big issue, and the number of judges is very limited compared to the number of the population that needs to access justice causing case backlog," he noted.

The peace agreement signed in August 2015 calls for formation of the CTRH to help end the more than two years of conflict.

South Sudan descended into deadly conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, which the latter denied, leading to killing of tens of thousands and displacing more than 2 million from their homes.

A fragile peace deal signed between the warring parties in August 2015 brokered by the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) remains in disarray after Machar abandoned Juba for his safety.



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