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South Sudan government agrees delay of unity
government formation to avert war says official

by JULIS GALE JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese government agreed to extend the deadline for the formation of a unity government by six months to avoid return to war, information and broadcasting minister Michael Makuei Lueth said Tuesday.

Makuei said President Salva Kiir’s administration had initially objected to delay in forming the unity government beyond the May 12 deadline, but it compromised for the sake of peace.

"We did not want to go back to war and we don’t want to declare the agreement has collapsed, but we want to come out with a government that is acceptable to all of us.

"That is why we accepted the extension," Makuei said.

Makuei said any failure in extending the pre-transitional period would have shattered the fragile peace deal and returned the world’s youngest nation into war.

He called on the parties to the pact to unite and ensure that the pending issues, such as security arrangements and determination of number of states be completed before the elapse of the six months.

"We make sure we operationalize the provisions of chapter two because at the end of the six months, there will be no room again for extension," Makuei said.

Parties to the agreement on Tuesday held a news conference in Juba to brief the country about the outcome of last week’s talks in Ethiopia where they agreed to delay the new government by six months.

Signatories to the 2018 peace agreement on May 3 agreed to extend formation of the transitional government by six months following delays in the implementation of the pact.

Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the main rebel group, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) said the delay would allow the parties to resolve the pending issues.

"In the last eight months, we were unable to implement the security arrangements and we hope in the next six months, we should be able to implement the security arrangements.

"We need to work together so that we achieve peace," Odwar said.

Gabriel Changson Chang, chairperson of Opposition Alliance, a grouping of smaller armed factions in the peace deal, said the extension was not to destroy the peace deal, but it was meant to salvage the deal from collapse.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital Juba in July 2016.

Under the 2018 peace deal, opposition leader Riek Machar, will once again be reinstated as President Salva Kiir’s deputy.

Deng Alor kuol, representative of SPLA-FDs, a group of former politicians detained during the onset of the conflict in 2013, said the extension is a testing moment for the various factions to show commitment and settle the outstanding issues within the six-month period.

"The six months extension, we cannot extend it more. So, we have very difficult period to make sure that we do everything within the six months. We do not want to disappoint ourselves, disappoint the people of South Sudan once more," said Alor.


South Sudan denies deploying soldiers to avert street protests

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday said the deployment of soldiers on the streets in Juba and surrounding areas was not to avert anticipated street protests but a normal routine to beef up security ahead of army day celebrations.

Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information and broadcasting, denied that the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) were deployed on Tuesday to avert planned May 16 protests led by the so-called Red Card Movement, a youth group that is rallying South Sudanese all over the world to demonstrate against the current leadership.

"We always deploy forces ahead of any celebration as precaution measures, so it is not something strange," said Makuei.

Red Card Movement is using social media to mobilize support for the protests on May 16, the day the SSPDF celebrates its establishment.

"To all members of the Red Card Movement who are residing in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, U.S., Australia, Britain and all over the world, we all should go and make public demonstration in front of the South Sudan embassy in our respective countries," the group said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Makuei warned South Sudanese youth not to involve themselves in protests being planned in Juba and neighboring countries by the Red Card Movement.


South Sudan president calls for further delay in unity government formation

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has called for one-year-long delay in formation of a transitional government instead of the six months extension agreed by the parties to the September 2018 peace deal in Ethiopia last week.

Kiir said the six months is not enough to implement the impending issues such as security arrangements that have stalled the fragile peace.

"If we cannot do them in the last eight months, what will make this to succeed this time around in six months," the South Sudanese leader said on Wednesday while launching a new civil registry program in Juba.

Kiir cited logistical challenges during the rainy season as one of the reasons to further delay the unity government.

"There will be rain and you cannot move with a car to any location.

"But if it is one year the remaining six months will get us in the new year and things can be done during that period and then we can form the government by April or May next year," Kiir said.

Signatories to the 2018 peace agreement on May 3 agreed to extend formation of the transitional government by six months following delays in the implementation of the pact.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital Juba in July 2016.

Under the 2018 peace deal, opposition leader Riek Machar will once again be reinstated as Kiir’s deputy.

Prevailing peace in South Sudan eases humanitarian access: ICRC

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday humanitarian access has greatly improved in South Sudan amid prevailing peace since the former warring parties inked the revitalized peace deal in September 2018.

James Reynolds, head of ICRC’s delegation in South Sudan, said that peace has allowed greater movement of aid workers across the country compared to previous years when the five-year conflict was intense.

"It’s becoming perhaps a bit easier to move humanitarian assistance around because it’s dry season but also we haven’t seen bigger incidences of violence between opposition and government forces and this makes our work easier," said Reynolds during celebrations to mark World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day in Juba.

He disclosed that aid workers have borne the brunt of the violence since outbreak of conflict in December 2013 including the killing of an ICRC driver in 2017 by unknown armed group.

Reynolds noted that violence in general had reduced with only a few spots like Yei region and other isolated places experiencing intermittent fighting.

"There is still some violence in some parts of the country but not on sporadic level.

"We need to make sure that people affected by that can receive assistance through health centers run by us (ICRC).

"I think there is some optimism but quite a long way to go," he added.

Over 100 aid workers have been killed during the five-year conflict and several humanitarian convoys obstructed by both government and rebel forces.

China to continue providing assistance for peace
process in South Sudan - says Chinese envoy

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A Chinese envoy on Wednesday said China will continue to provide assistance for the peace process in South Sudan.

Hua Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, said Beijing applauded the positive step taken by the parties with support from the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in partnership with the international community to reach progressive outcomes toward achieving sustainable peace.

"For Chinese government it is happy to see very good outcome from the Addis Ababa meeting. We have witnessed that the relevant parties have reached consensus on the six month extension of the pre-transitional period to implement the revitalized peace agreement," Hua said.

"We applaud the leading role IGAD has played and we also appreciate the contribution of the relevant international, regional organizations toward the peace process," he said during the two-day ministerial meeting organized by IGAD in Juba.

The envoy urged the international community and stakeholders to provide assistance for the full realization of sustainable peace in the world’s youngest nation, saying that the Chinese government will continue to render support to the peace process.

Japan pledge continued support for South Sudan
peace process: visiting Foreign Minister Taro Kono

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Japanese government has vowed to continue supporting the peace implementation process in South Sudan in the wake of the recent agreement by the former warring parties extending the pre-transitional period for another six months before forming the much-awaited transitional unity government by November.

Taro Kono, Japanese foreign minister said on his maiden visit to Juba on Saturday after meeting South Sudanese President Salva Kiir that Tokyo will continue to support the ongoing peace process in the youngest nation which has suffered more than five years of conflict since December 2013.

Japan in March donated 205 million pounds (3.2 million U.S. dollars) to the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which mediated the peace deal signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia between Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO).

Kono also invited President Kiir to attend the upcoming Tokyo International Cooperation on African Development (TICAD) meeting in August which aims to boost trade and bilateral cooperation between Japan and African countries.

South Sudanese foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial hailed Japanese aid to South Sudan and the role Japan is playing in complementing peace implementation efforts.

Newly appointed Ethiopian Foreign Minister
Gedu Andargachew leaves for South Sudan

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s newly elected Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew left here on Tuesday to Juba, capital of South Sudan, to chair the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers’ Extraordinary Session on South Sudan’s peace process.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that Andargachew, who was appointed Ethiopia’s FM last month and eventually assumed the rotating chairmanship of the IGAD Council of Ministers, opened the 67th extraordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers, which kicked off Tuesday afternoon in Juba.

The ministerial meeting mainly aimed at taking stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and the challenges encountered in meeting some of the key timelines and benchmarks, MoFA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Ethiopian foreign minister stressed during the opening session on "the importance of developing a clear roadmap and implementation schedules for the pending tasks."

"Andargachew commended the parties for their commitment to reach a consensus in extending the pre-transitional period for six months to allow for the full implementation of critical pending tasks," the statement read.

Andargachew also commended the Transitional Government of National Unity for its pledges to commit 100 million U.S. dollars to expedite the implementation of the pending tasks, which he said, "would encourage regional and international partners to provide support to this process."

Ethiopia’s foreign minister expressed his hope that the ministerial meeting would bring consensus "on the right course of action to help the process move forward."

South Sudan petroleum ministry sign oil exploration deal with South Africa

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s petroleum ministry on Monday signed a six-year oil exploration and production sharing agreement with South Africa.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, petroleum minister said the deal, which he signed with his South African counterpart, minister of energy Jeff Thamsanqa Radebe, will permit the two countries to work together in the oil sector and boost economic growth.

Gatkuoth said the agreement will be jointly supervised by the Johannesburg-based state-owned oil company, Strategic Fuel Fund, and Juba-based Nile Petroleum Cooperation in a bid to stimulate and revitalize the energy sector in South Sudan.

"I congratulate the people of South Africa for deciding to come and invest in South Sudan. Investment in South Sudan will benefit both Juba and Johannesburg in various ways because this is people investment," said Gatkuoth.

He said South Sudan never had an exploration and production sharing agreement with any company before, adding that Juba has the right to award it to any potential and eligible company based on mutual ties.

"Today we have decided to award this Bloc B2 to Strategic Fuel Fund Association, a state-owned company by the Republic of South Africa. We are very happy to enter into this engagement with the Strategic Fuel Fund," said Gatkuoth.

Jeff Thamsanqa Radebe said the project will serve his country better since Johannesburg is the biggest net importer of crude oil, adding that the engagement will support them in tackling issues related to energy supply.

   Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth [left], South Sudan’s petroleum minister and Jeff Thamsanqa Radebe [second left], South African minister of energy | Coastweek

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth [left], South Sudan’s petroleum minister and Jeff Thamsanqa Radebe [second left], South African minister of energy sign agreements in Juba. South Sudan’s petroleum ministry on Monday signed a six-year oil exploration and production sharing agreement with South Africa. XINHUA PHOTO - DANIEL MAJAK

"The project will assist us in dealing with security of energy supply which is very dire in South Africa as you know every year, every month the fuel prices go up because we are solely dependent on other countries for our energy security matters," said Radebe.

He said South Africa is ready to work with Juba in the areas of economic development that will spur the two nations’ prosperity.

Radebe said the agreement is part of last year’s one billion dollar oil deal that will allow Johannesburg to invest in oil refinery, exploration and pipeline development in South Sudan.

Fire kills at least 31 in northwest South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least 31 people have been killed and 68 others injured in South Sudan’s Lol region after a fire broke out in Korok East county on Sunday evening, a local official said on Tuesday.

Michael Mathok Wal, the region’s information, youth and culture minister, told Xinhua that the incident destroyed 138 households and about 10,000 heads of cattle, including goats, sheep, adding that it is the first of its kind.

Wal said the fire quickly engulfed five remote villages of Marial Agar, Karpalou, Karpahol, Pathon and Magaar Mickuach.

"The incident killed 31 people on the spot and injured 68 others, and some are in critical condition. It is likely that the death toll would rise as the wounded are receiving treatment, though not sufficient," said Wal.

Ateny Wek Ateny, President Salva Kiir’s spokesman, delivered the president’s condolence message to the grieved families and described the incident as a national tragedy.

Ateny said the office of the president will conduct an independent investigation into the tragedy in a bid to prevent future recurrences.

"The office of the president has learned and been disheartened by the shocking incident that occurred on Sunday evening in Korok East County, in which innocent lives were lost.

"We would like to convey our heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families," Ateny told State-owned radio.


United States want to see movement towards unity government in South Sudan



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