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United Nations extend arms embargo and sanctions
against South Sudan Government for a further year

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Security Council on Thursday decided to extend an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan for another year until May 31, 2020.

Resolution 2471 was adopted by a vote of 10 in favor with five abstentions, which were from three African countries in the Council, Russia and China.

The measures renewed for another year also include an asset freeze and global travel ban slapped on eight South Sudanese nationals for their role in fueling the war.

A resolution needs nine votes to pass the 15-member Council and no vetoes by the permanent members—the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain.

Jerry Matjila, South Africa’s permanent representative to the UN, said given the political process in South Sudan, "sanctions are not helpful at this time."

He appealed to the Council to heed and support efforts being undertaken by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in South Sudan.

Warning against external pressures that "can aggravate volatile political processes," he emphasized that making peace is neither easy nor linear.

He called on all parties to improve the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, which remains precarious.

Russia and China, which abstained in the vote last year to impose the arms embargo, made clear their positions had remained unchanged.

Yao Shaojun, minister counselor and political coordinator of China’s permanent mission to the UN, told the Council that the political process in the country "has made significant progress" since 2018, demonstrating the parties’ resolve and goodwill.

"The Council should send positive messages to support African Union and IGAD efforts," he said.


South Sudan raises daily oil output to 180,000 barrels

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s oil output has increased to 180,000 barrels per day (bpd), petroleum minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said on Thursday.

Gatkuoth said the increase was attained following resumption of oil production at El Toor oilfield on Thursday. The newly reopened oilfield is projected to start pumping at least 5,000 bpd from six wells.

"Today (Thursday), we managed to resume oil production at Al-Toor oilfield.

"We will continue to make sure the rest of the wells are put into production as soon as possible, Gatkuoth said in a statement.

Gatkuoth said the east African country is working to resume oil production in redundant oilfields affected by five years of civil war in order to meet its target of producing 400,000 barrels by the end of 2020.

"We want to make sure all the wells, whether in Unity, Toma South, El Toor or any other are all in production because now we are underutilizing them.

"We need to move quickly because the oil price is good and we benefit from the oil," Gatkuoth said.

The increase is part of South Sudan’s plan to boost daily production by 70,000 barrels by June.

According to the World Bank, South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for around 60 percent of its gross domestic product.

But after the young nation descended into civil war in late 2013, oil production declined from 350,000 in 2011 to less than 130,000 barrels per day in 2014 amid soaring inflation.

Following the signing of a new peace deal in September 2018, conflict has reduced and previously closed oilfields have reopened, increasing output.

In June 2018, South Sudan and neighboring Sudan agreed to deploy a joint security force to secure oil installations and jointly repair oil infrastructure damaged during South Sudan’s civil war.


United States denies deploying troops to South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military on Thursday denied allegations that it has deployed troops into the east African country in a bid to unseat President Salva Kiir’s government.

Alexander Laskaris, deputy to the commander for Civil-Military Engagement at the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Washington only sent some troops to South Sudan during the 2016 violence to protect American citizens and facilities.

"Right now, we don’t have deployments into South Sudan.

"The last time there was major unrest, insurrection, in Juba, in July of 2016, in response to the potential need to assist U.S. citizens in distress, we pre-deployed some assets to the region," Laskaris said via telephonic press briefing held on Wednesday.

"We at AFRICOM have one of our basic underlying missions as the protection of the U.S. diplomatic facilities and the protection of U.S. citizens, both official citizens associated with the U.S. government but also private citizens and we take that very seriously," he added.

A local newspaper reported last week that the Trump administration had sent troops to the conflict -torn country to spearhead an alleged U.S-led regime change agenda in South Sudan.

The news outlet also alleged that Washington is supporting groups seeking to depose the sitting government through mass protests.

The U.S. was South Sudan’s main financial and diplomatic supporter following the country’s secession from Sudan in 2011, but relations between the two countries went bad after the world’s youngest nation descended into civil war in 2013.

Juba has repeatedly accused Washington of working against Kiir’s government, allegations Washington has denied.

President Salva Kiir vows to bring lasting peace tostabilize South Sudan

NAIROBI South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan President Salva Kiir vowed on Thursday to bring lasting peace to his country and urged warring parties to pursue unity to help foster development in the world’s youngest nation.

Speaking in Nairobi during a national prayer breakfast, Kiir said he was committed to ensuring his country attains total stability, adding that he has initiated a national dialogue process to bring peace.

He said he looks forward to a future where South Sudan will become prosperous and will play a bigger role in the affairs and unity of Eastern Africa.

President Kiir lamented that South Sudan leaders are busy jostling and fighting for power while innocent citizens are suffering.

The national prayer breakfast was attended by leaders including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyatta called on the South Sudanese leadership to show more willingness and selflessness in resolving issues that are denying their people the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the independence that they fought for.

"Peace is possible but there must be the intention to have peace.

"The people of South Sudan need peace to get the service of the freedom fought for," Kenyatta said.

He said Kenya is always willing to help South Sudan to attain stability.

"Kenya is ready to help you achieve the dream of a prosperous nation," Kenyatta assured Kiir.

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

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.

South Sudan denies launching offensive on holdout rebel group

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s military on Tuesday denied allegations by a rebel group that government forces have launched fresh offensive in a bid to gain more territory in the southern parts of the east African country.

Rebels of the National Salvation Front (NAS), an opposition group led by renegade army general Thomas Cirilo, alleged on Monday that the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and a local militia attacked two of their bases in Lainya and Wonduruba areas respectively.

But SSPDF Spokesman Lul Roai Koang denied the accusations, saying that the army has never fought any armed group since the signing of a peace deal last year.

"I’m not aware of any fighting in the country.

"We also do not have militia in Lainya area.

"The only force we have there are the regular army of the SSPDF," Koang said by phone from Juba.

NAS is one of several armed groups that refused to ink the September 2018 peace deal despite repeated efforts by the east African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to get them on board.

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 4 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 new peace deal, opposition leader Riek Machar, along with four others, will once again be reinstated as Kiir’s deputy.

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

South Sudan parties agree to a unified force of 83,000 personnel

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Parties to South Sudan’s 2018 peace deal have agreed to form a unified force of 83,000 personnel, the body tasked with monitoring the shaky pact revealed Wednesday.

Augostino Njoroge, interim chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, told a stakeholder meeting in Juba that the agreement on the number of forces was reached during a meeting held on May 10 and 11.

Njoroge said the parties also agreed that the government and opposition contribute equal numbers to the joint force.

"The workshop reached agreement on the size of the necessary unified forces at 83,000.

These will constitute elements of the military, the national and state police, and the national security services, the prisons and wildlife services, and the fire brigade," Njoroge said.

He urged the parties to the agreement implement the pending issues and avoid further delay in forming the new government.

"It is imperative that all implementing institutions must now collectively own responsibility and do much more during this extension period," Njoroge said.

South Sudan’s new peace deal calls for reunification of all fighters involved in the civil conflict, but the process has been marred by delays as some groups have refused to declare the size of their forces.

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.

South Sudan community clashes leave 22 dead

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least 22 people have been killed following rival community clashes over cattle raids between two border regions in northern South Sudan.

Michael Mayout, the information minister in Twic region bordering Northern Liech region, told Xinhua on Thursday that the clashes on Tuesday between youths from the two areas over cattle rustling also left a soldier dead.

The clashes on Tuesday in the county of Turalei also left 18 others injured and 3,000 heads of cattle looted, Mayout said on phone.

"The clashes broke out early Tuesday and the fighting continued until late evening when soldiers were deployed to intervene," he added.

South Sudan community clashes which often involve looting of cattle, abduction of children and women have led to deaths of thousands across the country.

South Sudan urges United Nations mission to support development initiatives

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Wednesday urged the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to support development initiatives besides peacekeeping operations as the youngest nation recovers from more than five years of conflict.

Malek Ruben Riak, deputy minister of defense, said the peacekeeping mission should put more focus on supporting development activities such as building health, education facilities and roads besides training and building capacity of government officials.

He said South Sudanese will be able to enjoy peace dividends when the UNMISS supports development in the country.

He disclosed that they are currently engaging other opposition groups outside the peace deal to come on board.

Riak appreciated the Chinese, British, Japanese, Bangladeshi, Rwandans and South Korean peacekeeping contingents for contributing towards infrastructure development in the country.

He said they will continue to work with UNMISS to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian agencies to areas in need.

Moustapha Soumare, deputy head of UNMISS and Special Representative of the Secretary General, said peace operations have evolved over time to include facilitation of political processes, support elections, protect and promote human rights and restore the rule of law.

Soumare paid tribute to the 67 UNMISS staff who have fallen since 2011 including the 12 personnel who lost their lives in the past year.

United Nations partners with South Sudan to
strengthen justice system on sexual violence

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is working with South Sudan to strengthen justice system to help fight rampant sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

Mary Otieno, UNFPA representative in South Sudan, said the east African country’s needs a coherent national endorsement that harmonizes all different laws and penal code that are related to gender-based violence.

Otieno revealed that UNFPA, ministry of gender, child and social welfare in collaboration with the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs have embarked on a process to develop effective legal framework to address gender-based violence in the country.

"The law should promote the removal of the stereotypes in public and private places spheres and identifies the measures for the protection and empowerment of victims such as shelters and free specialized consoling and protection orders," Otieno said in Juba.

Paulino Wanawilla Unango, justice minister, acknowledged the role played by the UN agencies working in the young nation toward eliminating sexual violence and gender-based violence, adding that the vice is too high though the young country cases are not exceptional.

Awut Deng Achuil, minister of gender, child and social welfare, said her ministry in collaboration with judicial sector is developing anti-gender-based violence policy to address the loopholes the current pieces of legalizations have on ensuring justice.



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