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South Sudan’s rebels says leader
not returning to Juba without peace

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition ( SPLM-IO), said its leader Riek Machar will not return to South Sudan without any tangible peace deal with the government of President Salva Kiir.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLM-IO Deputy Military Spokesman, said the former first deputy president who is currently exiled in South Africa will not come to South Sudan because of safety concerns.

“What will bring Riek Machar back to Juba is the peace agreement if it is signed in Addis Ababa because this fighting is beyond Machar and Kiir,” Gabriel said.

Machar fled South Sudan into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in July 2016 following renewed fighting between his forces and those loyal to the government in the capital, Juba.

President Kiir last week asked the rebel leader to return to South Sudan, pledging to give Machar state protection.

“Riek Machar should come back to Juba not as a political leader, but as a changed man who has renounced violence, and he will be accorded protection by the government of South Sudan,” Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Xinhua by phone.

“He would be able to run for any position in the future if there are elections in the country,” Ateny added.

But Gabriel dismissed the president’s pledge, saying they don’t trust the intentions of Kiir and the SPLM-IO would only return to Juba if there is peace in the East African nation.

“We are fighting for the people who are suffering in the refugee camps. We need to sign peace first and come to Juba when there is peace for the people of South Sudan,” Gabriel said.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 20013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world. The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under United Nations pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

The next round of peace talks spearheaded by the East African bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are scheduled to reconvene in Ethiopia on May 17.



FAO seeks to avert conflicts over natural resource in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Thursday launched guidelines aimed at mitigating conflicts related to rivalry over natural resources in South Sudan.

FAO said in a statement that the five-step strategy seeks to increase effectiveness of natural resource management mechanisms and improve livelihoods by addressing root causes of conflict among South Sudanese communities.

The agency said natural resources such as agricultural land, water, pasture and forests are key resources for South Sudan and their effective management would help in the economic and social recovery of populations affected by conflict.

The strategy involves mapping of land coverage using geospatial technologies, identification of strategic livelihood services and causes of grassroots conflict.

The guidelines also calls for establishment of territorial agreements or committees to monitor land governance, natural resources  and identify boundaries to mitigate natural resource-based conflict.

“With these guidelines updated to the current context, stakeholders can work more effectively to address conflict-drivers to create sustainable natural resource management practices in the field,” said Serge Tissot, FAO Representative in South Sudan.

South Sudan is prone to violent communal conflicts over natural resources such livestock pasture and water points. For generations, cattle rustling and violent clashes between crop farmers and pastoralists have killed unknown number of people.

In a bid to expedite implementation of the framework, FAO said it will this week bring together 30 natural resource management experts from across the country to discuss the document.

Marco de Gaetano, FAO Natural Resource Management Specialist, said the initiative would create a platform for community dialogue and engagement that would reduce conflict.  



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