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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Sudan’s private sector starts
integration into East Africa trade body

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s private sector has formally started the process of integration into the East African Business Council (EABC), a senior trade official said on Friday.

Mou Mou Athian, the Secretary General of South Sudan Secretariat for the East African Community, said the integration process was a good opportunity for the business community in the country.

“This is a good beginning to rejuvenating the business community in the country,” Athian said in Juba.

The EABC members concluded meeting with the South Sudan private sector and government officials on Thursday in Juba.

Athian cited that given the weak capacity of the private sector in the country, the EABC should play a big role in raising the capacity of the business men and women.

Moses Hassen, the minister of Trade, Industry and East African Affairs, said his ministry would input the necessary requirement to fast-track the integration process.

“As the government we will always be there to support the private sector,” he said, adding that the government would put the necessary resources available to strengthen the private sector in order to also compete in the regional bloc.

Lillian Awinja, the executive director of the EABC, said the regional body is aimed at interacting with the business community after which they would report back to employers in the bloc.

South Sudan joined the regional trade bloc (EAC) in April 2016 that includes neighboring countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

The EABC is the apex body of the private sector associations and corporates in East Africa.

It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process of the East African Community (EAC) and has observer status in organs and activities of the EAC.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan’s new bank governor pledges monetary reforms

JUBA (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s newly appointed Central Bank Governor Dier Tong Ngor on Saturday pledged to improve monetary institutions.

Ngor told Xinhua in Juba after taking an oath of office on Saturday that his priority is to bring sanity to the monetary system in the country.

“I am going to work hard with my team and consult with other great economists in the country and the region to help us in formulating a policy that will improve the economic situation in the country,” said Ngor.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday dismissed Othom Rago Ajak and his deputy Dier Tong Ngor and named Dier as the new bank governor, deputized by Albino Dak Othow.

South Sudanese presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Xinhua that the president is greatly concerned about the economic situation in the country.

“The president is worried about the high inflation rates in the market and it is within his prerogative to relieve and appoint officials to the monetary positions to seek solutions to the current situation,” said Ateny.

Experts said the president’s decision to relieve both the bank governor and his deputy of their duties will not sharply address the urgent need to quell the inflationary rates and the increasing weakening local currency exchange rate against the U.S. dollar in the country.

South Sudan depends entirely on oil to finance 98 percent of its fiscal budget and yet ongoing conflict and fall in global oil prices have reduced oil production and revenue. 

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South Sudan lifts fuel subsidies to cut expenditure

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government has lifted the fuel subsidies in a bid to cut spiraling public expenditure costs in the youngest nation that has experienced rampant fuel shortages due to conflict.

Deputy Minister of Information Lily Albino Akol told journalists that President Salva Kiir ordered the lifting of the fuel subsidies in order to find badly needed supplementary cash to pay government workers’ pending arrears.

“The president and Council of ministers noticed and acknowledged that the people of South Sudan are suffering and that the fuel subsidies which were meant to alleviate the economic condition of most of our people are not happening. So it will be in the best interest of our people that these fuel subsidies are lifted,” Akol said in Juba on Saturday.

She disclosed that market forces of demand and supply will determine the fuel price as the state-owned Nile Petroleum will see its budget cut.

Nilepet which solely imported fuel in the country will now share this obligation with private companies.

The state allocated in the past about 158 million U.S. dollars to Nilepet to import fuel which it would sell at subsidized rate of less than half a dollar, but the latest development has seen fuel prices skyrocket in the market with a liter of petrol selling at 0.97 dollars while diesel at 0.95 dollars.

South Sudan’s annual inflation peaked at 550 percent, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country depends hugely on oil exports to finance 98 percent of its fiscal budget but conflict has curtailed oil production to less than 160,000 barrels a day from the previous 350,000 bpd.

The country also imports fuel products and is yet to finalize construction of the Tharjiath fuel refinery in the northern Unity region.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after the outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016.

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UN officials condemn sexual violence in fighting in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) -- Three senior UN officials on Friday condemned the recent escalation of violence in South Sudan that resulted in widespread sexual abuse, and urged all parties to end the attacks against civilians, especially women and children.

Preliminary investigations by the United Nations have uncovered alarming patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses, including killings, pillaging, abductions, rape and gang-rape committed by both parties during heavy fighting in former Unity state in the north of the country in the last two weeks, they said.

These violations could constitute atrocity crimes, warned Pramila Patten, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict; Virginia Gamba, the special representative for children and armed conflict; and Adama Dieng, the special adviser on the prevention of genocide.

Sexual violence as a widespread and systematic tactic of war continues in South Sudan, reportedly to punish civilians who are perceived to be associated with a particular political or ethnic group, the officials said in a statement.

The United Nations has received reports of attackers demanding money, alcohol and cattle through threats of violence and intimidation, including sexual violence, the officials said.

Testimonies indicate that women and girls of all ages have been subjected to rape, they said.

Information collected over the past week indicates that at least 66 women and girls have been raped since attacks began on April 21, with the total number of cases likely to be much higher. In addition, dozens of women and girls are believed to have been abducted, with some having been released after enduring days in captivity, they said.

In former Unity state, young armed soldiers, reportedly affiliated to government forces, allegedly attacked the island of Meer, where a number of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, were reportedly killed and injured, while others, including children, drowned as they tried to escape. Instances of abductions and sexual violence against women and girls were also reported, said the officials.

They called on all parties in South Sudan to immediately end the use of sexual violence, cease the commission of atrocities, and hold the perpetrators of these heinous acts accountable as a matter of priority.

They urged the parties to the conflict to honor the commitments they have made to address conflict-related sexual violence and to protect the civilian population, and further called on the government of South Sudan to abide by the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access they signed in 2017.

“The United Nations stands ready to support national efforts to end, prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan and to improve the protection of civilians, including children,” the three officials said.

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UN urges cease-fire monitors to disclose violation reports to end cycle of impunity

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Friday called on cease-fire monitors to make public the reports on violation in order to end the continuous cycle of impunity by the warring factions.

Head of UNMISS David Shearer said the cycle of impunity will end if the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) starts to make public its reports on violation amid surge in violence in the northern Unity, Jonglei regions and Equatoria region.

“I support the comments made at the UN Security Council by the Undersecretary General for peacekeeping who urged Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to make public the various CTSAMM reports on violation of Cessation of Hostilities agreement (ACOH),” he told journalists in Juba.

It is important that these reports are considered where the evidence exists that the violators are held to account publicly, he disclosed.

He added that it is only by doing that they will be able to end the cycle of impunity that continues to exist.

“We are witnessing an escalation of violence in many parts of the country including the Unity region, Jonglei and Equatoria and this at odds with the ACOH that was reached just five months ago,” he said.

Shearer reiterated that solutions to the challenges facing South Sudan are not violent plans but political and all warring parties must abide by the cease-fire deal, lay down their weapons and come to the negotiating table with genuine willingness to compromise, reconcile and to work with peace.

UNMISS has put significant resources into supporting CTSAMM in its independent role in investigating, verifying and reporting violations to the COH, he disclosed.

“We have provided logistical support including by both road and air to the various conflict zones as well peacekeeping, force protection so that CTSAMM can safely carry out its work and investigating possible violations on ground,” he said.

He also said the priority should be first reaching peace agreement ahead of the recent talk by government suggesting the return of the former First Vice President Riek Machar to country which has gained currency.

President Salva Kiir this week said his erstwhile rival, Riek Machar could return to the country and assured him of his protection

“I think that what needs to come first is the peace agreement. We need to have an agreement by which if others want to come back into the country should be under those auspices,” Shearer said.

The warring parties are preparing for the upcoming third round peace talks on May 17 in the Ethiopian capital.

Meanwhile, the UN official also said that they were working with the World Food Program, UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) along with the government to keep the roads open ahead of the rainy season to rescue people in the northern parts of the country who are most likely to be food insecure after experiencing crop failure.

“So these months now are the worst and the most difficult times for people in South Sudan particularly people in the northern half of South Sudan. In the Southern half in the Equatoria where there is chance to have two or more crops coming they have more opportunity and options,” he said.

“We have worked very closely with WFP together with UNOPS along with government to try and make sure that the roads stay open for a longer period of time so that food can be transported even when the rains start the roads are in better condition,” he added.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after the outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016.

             

 

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