Pan Africa Newswire
Egyptian police standing guard next to damage done by two bombs that exploded in the Giza district of Cairo. A rash of bombing have occurred since the beginning of 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Political stability remains elusive for Egypt
Sahar Aziz, Sunday 23 Feb 2014
There is an eerie similarity between how the 2012 and 2014 constitutions were drafted, one that highlights the zero-sum thinking all Egypt's recent regimes have adopted
Egyptians recently concluded their second attempt at passing a constitution that conveys the aspirations of the 25 January 2011 uprising. However, the 2014 constitution is not much different than the now maligned “Morsi constitution” of 2012 —whether in content or process.
Although the language in the two constitutions incrementally strengthened individual rights and preserved the rule of law, both drafting processes were fraught with exclusivity, circumscribed collaboration, and insufficient transparency. Contradictions abound between a purportedly legitimate constitutional drafting process and the violent crackdown and marginalisation of dissidents by those in control of the government at the time.
Under Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Salafi allies dominated the process. Secular liberal parties, youth leaders and Copts were included in the constitutional drafting committee only to be ignored. Once it became clear that their inclusion was aimed to create an appearance of inclusiveness to legitimise an otherwise predisposed outcome, the non-Islamist groups had no option but to resign in protest.
At the same time that Morsi was touting the pending passage of the new constitution, his supporters were violently quashing protesters in front of the presidential palace.
Rather than realise such railroading would doom the constitution in the long run, Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies took a route all too familiar in Egyptian politics. He responded to dissent with force bolstered by a constitutional declaration that placed him above judicial scrutiny long enough to ram through the constitutional referendum to a public vote. With a low voter turnout of 33 percent and a boycott by multiple stakeholders excluded from the process, the constitution was approved by 64 percent of voters.
Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood had won the legal battle, but would soon pay dearly when they lost the political war six months later.
The similarities between the Muslim Brotherhood’s domination over the 2012 Constitution, which ultimately led to their demise, and the secularists’ domination over the 2013 drafting process are glaring. Nearly one year after Morsi’s fatal push to vote on a constitution rejected by a number of influential political stakeholders, a second constitution was put before Egyptian voters in January 2014. But for different political actors it, too, was drafted through a non-inclusive process.
Indeed, voter turnout was a mere 36 percent, just a few points above the turnout for Morsi’s constitution with a large swath of Egyptian youth not bothering to vote. To them, the referendum’s outcome was predetermined just as it had been under Mubarak.
As the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership was detained en masse, predominantly secular and non-Islamist stakeholders, with the exception of the opportunistic Salafis, drafted the new constitution. The constitutional committee’s invitation for the Brotherhood to participate was met with the same rebuke by the non-Islamists one year prior. To the Brotherhood, this was merely an exercise in legitimisation of an otherwise illegitimate process in their eyes —ironically the same indictment that confronted the Muslim Brotherhood during the 2012 constitutional drafting process.
Despite the promising language protecting individual rights in the 2014 constitution, the political reality could not be more contradictory. In August 2013, nearly a thousand civilians protesting against the deposal of Morsi were reportedly killed by Egyptian internal security forces in retribution for their refusal to stop their sit-in protests in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares. Even during Mubarak’s notorious police state, internal security forces had never killed so many Egyptians, some in cold blood, in such a short timeframe.
When youth activists’ concerns with military trials of civilians and the increased powers of the military in the new draft constitution were ignored, they too resorted to the streets. Unable to stop the protests through political compromise, the interim president unilaterally passed a draconian anti-protest law that legalised the quashing of political dissent. And if these developments were not enough evidence of the polarised political climate, the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation effectively shut them out of politics.
Though the past three years appear unpredictable, a common theme grips Egypt’s political landscape.
The culture of authoritarianism grounded in a zero-sum game mentality has been the modus operandi for whoever is in power. Whether it was the SCAF’s harsh military trials of over 10,000 civilians to mute dissent, Morsi's ominous constitutional declaration placing him above the law, or the current military-backed interim government’s mass arrests of political dissidents from both the religious right and secular left; the Egyptian political process looks eerily similar to the Mubarak era.
Despite this, the January 2011 revolution has proven that the authoritarian mode of politics is not sustainable in the long run. While current rulers may win short term political gains by pushing through constitutions as the opposition is marginalised or imprisoned, the long term legitimacy of the document is jeopardised. This leads to further instability that Egyptians can no longer afford as they focus on strengthening their economy, creating more jobs, and improving the quality of their lives.
It is long overdue for whoever takes on the weighty responsibility of governing Egypt to recognise that legitimacy of the law is the key to sustainable political stability and economic prosperity for all Egyptians. Without such, the aspirations of the January 25 Revolution will remain unfulfilled.
The writer is associate professor of law, Texas A&M University School of Law.
Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi being brought into court at the police academy. Morsi was overthrown by the military on July 3, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Morsi espionage case adjourned
Ahram Online , Saturday 1 Mar 2014
Defendants, including ousted president Mohamed Morsi, fail to appear in court for reasons of facing another trial on the same day
Cairo Appeals Court adjourned Saturday the case against ousted president Mohamed Morsi and 35 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of espionage, after the defendants failed to appear in court.
Defendants, including Morsi, were facing another trial the same day in which they are accused of inciting the murder and torture of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
The espionage case was suspended last week by Cairo Criminal Court to allow Cairo Appeals Court to look into defence lawyer demands that trial judges be changed on the basis of claimed faults in trial procedures.
Lawyers representing Safwat Hegazy and Mohamed El-Beltagy, who said they represent all defendants in the case, made the request that the judges in the case be changed.
Morsi and the 35 other Brotherhood leading figures stand accused of collaborating with foreign organisations, namely "Hamas in Gaza," to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt, of revealing defence secrets to a foreign country, funding terrorists and organising militant training "to achieve the purpose of the international organisation of the Brotherhood," according to a statement from the prosecution.
Morsi trial on murder charges adjourned to Sunday
El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen, Saturday 1 Mar 2014
Morsi and co-defendants are accused of inciting the killing and torture of opposition protesters in December 2012
A Cairo court on Saturday adjourned ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s trial on charges of inciting murder to the following day, to allow evidence to be gathered.
Morsi, his presidential aides and other senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders are accused of inciting the murder and torture of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
During the session at Cairo Criminal Court, defence lawyers argued that there was no evidence of killing or attempted murder. They also demanded an investigation into the wire-tapping efforts used to gather evidence against the defendants.
The defence further demanded that one of the sitting judges be changed, after he allegedly gave statement to state television expressing his views regarding the case.
At least 10 people were killed in December 2012 during protests triggered by a presidential decree that expanded Morsi's powers and put his decisions beyond judicial review.
Video footage of the deadly clashes prepared by a technical committee from the state broadcaster will be reviewed in the next trial session.
Morsi, who was removed from power by the army in July 2013 amid nationwide protests against his year-long rule, also faces a number of other charges in separate court cases, including espionage and breaking out of prison in 2011.
The former president's defence team withdrew from his espionage trial in protest at the soundproof glass box that has been used to contain the defendants during court proceedings, in place of the customary defendant cage.
Their withdrawal prompted the court to appoint 10 new defence lawyers.
Abdallah Morsi, son of ousted and detained President Mohamed Morsi has been arrested on drug charges. The Muslim Brotherhood says that the charges are trumped-up to tarnish the family name., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egypt police arrest Morsi's son on drugs charges
ِAhram Online, Saturday 1 Mar 2014
Police say Abdallah Morsi was carrying two cannabis joints when he was stopped at a checkpoint
One of ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s sons was arrested on Saturday for allegedly possessing cannabis, the Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
Head of the Obour police investigations unit, Hazem Saad, stated that Abdallah Morsi was driving back from Sharqiya in the Nile Delta with a friend, when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in New Cairo and was found to be carrying two cannabis joints.
The man accompanying Morsi, according to the police official, is Mohamed Emad El-Shamy, an employee at Raya Holding For Technology And Communications. The company is owned by leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Hassan Malek.
Abdallah Morsi's brother, Osama Morsi, posted a statement on his Facebook page condemning the arrest.
He said the allegation of drug possession was false and said the incident was being used to "taint the image of honest people.”
"The coup, whose figures are known to drink alcohol, is accusing the son of the legitimate president of being in possession of drugs," he said.
Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted on 3 July amid mass protests against his rule. Since he has been in detention facing multiple accusations including inciting the killing of opposing protesters, espionage and jailbreak.
Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have also been arrested, and most senior figures within the group are in detention.
Egyptian Gen. al-Sisi has announced that a military seizure of power. Egypt has been in a political crisis for months., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
El-Sisi's silence provokes questions about expected presidential run
Dina Ezzat, Saturday 1 Mar 2014
A recent presidential decree which makes the defence minister -- currently military chief El-Sisi -- head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has renewed speculation
A question mark was raised this week over whether military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will run in the upcoming presidential elections.
An official announcement on his candidacy has been expected to be imminent for weeks, with elections slated for late spring.
This week, a presidential decree reconstituted the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), making the defence minister the head of the body, rather than the president.
By the account of veteran military affairs experts, this is a first. SCAF has been traditionally headed by the head of state, the president.
SCAF is seen by experts as the most important body within the executive.
So why deny the head of the state the established right to head it, especially if the next head of the executive is expected to be no other the current chair of the army?
The 2014 constitution left the details of SCAF’s formulation up to the law, and a new law is expected to be issued soon.
El-Sisi has been said to be apprehensive to move from the ministry of defence to the presidential palace for fear of being removed by SCAF should his current popularity fade in the light of growing economic problems.
“If El-Sisi was actually going to run as we have been told privately and publicly he would not want to see anyone other than himself at the head of SCAF – not even Sobhi Sedki, the speculated next minister of defence,” said one political source who had been detecting what he qualifies as “a permanent streak of hesitation on the side of the man [El-Sisi] regarding this presidency matter.”
“I would be really surprised ifhe decided to run now; this law effectively separates the army from the executive almost fully, along line with the relevant constitutional references.”
Adopted despite considerable criticism over the independence it grants the coutnry’s military, the 2014 constitution kept in place the guarantees of the 2012 constitution that it replaced with regard to military privileges.
The 2014 text prohibits the discussion of the army budget beyond the confines of the national security council, and allows military courts to try civilians charged with offences against military targets – although the formulation of the section on military trials was changed slightly to make it less harsh than in the previous charter.
Moreover, the new text granted SCAF the right to be a partner with the president in selecting the minister of defence.
Now, if the president is stripped of the traditionally established right to head SCAF, sources acknowledge, the army will effectively be independent from the powers of the president.
“This is designed to protect the army from the dangers of a future president who might be like Morsi -- this is not designed for this coming president,” said a high-level source who spoke to Ahram Online after the reformulation of SCAF was announced.
“I would be really surprised if El-Sisi decided not to run now that his electoral programme and his electoral team is all but done.”
SCAF and the cabinet
Four days after he was appointed, new Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb has still not said who he will appoint to the position of defence minister, currently held by El-Sisi.
According to earlier accounts by informed, including military sources, El-Sisi was going to resign his post and become a civilian, to enrol in the voters lists and thus be ready to run for president as soon as the presidential elections law is passed by the president – slated for this week.
After the decree about SCAF’s formation – which was signed by Mansour two days before being made public – the same sources, including one member of SCAF, said that El-Sisi is set to keephis job as minister of defence and senior deputy prime minister with the Mehleb government“for a few more weeks, until the presidential elections law is issued and he is set to join the civilian list of voters.”
“The man has still a few things to do before he departs from the army to make sure that he is set to rule effectively and without too many problems.”
One of the key things that El-Sisi has been doing with the army – as with the ministry of interior and intelligence – is to “put the right people in the right place” and to send those who “are not fit to the next phase” to an early retirement.
Accounts vary significantly but they all suggest that scores of military, police and intelligence men have been offered “generous retirement packages” during the past few weeks.
Moreover, according to the new SCAF formation presidential law, the members of SCAF have been expanded beyond the current number -- even if so insignificantly to allow for the inclusion of some that ElSisi is said to think of as “loyal” and “efficient.”
Gulf decision-makers mull options
Paving the way towards his nomination, El-Sisi is also eyeing several foreign issues. The first has to do with the close ties with the two Gulf countries that have been generously offering support for Egypt during and beyond the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood rule: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE has been indicating that it prefers El-Sisi to stay as head of the armed forces, rather than to run for office.
Saudi Arabia seems to have been in two minds -- partially supporting El-Sisi and partially wanting to accommodate a US request to convince El-Sisi that his nomination would only exacerbate the agitation of the toppled Islamists who consider him their number one enemy.
Some parties in the UAE have expressed support for a presidential run by Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the runner-up in the 2012 presidential election which was won by Morsi.
In Saudi, however, there are some who have been offering support for the nomination of Mubarak’s former chief of staff who was removed by Morsi, Sami Anan.
Recently, both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh -- some suggest also Kuwait – have been sending clear messages to El-Sisi that his country and the Arab world at large need him exactly wherehe is and that he can choose some politician to run instead, to grant him the support of the army and the state.
El-Sisi is said to be busy with intensive consultations with these two capitals over the matter. According to one source, “he will not run before fixing things with them” and according to another “he will not run if he does not agree with them because without their financial support at least at the first year, it will be very difficult to attend to the many internal problems that result from the bad economic management of the country since Mubarak was ousted -- not to mention those before the 25 January Revolution.”
Early in February, SCAF made an unusual televised statement where it stated that it would leave it to the “national conscience” of El-Sisi to decide whether he should “bow to the public demand which is the highest in order” for him to run for president.
The statement, according to several sources, was supposed to be followed “shortly” by a statement from El-Sisi announcing his candidacy.
However, the statement prompted considerable criticism as it seemed to present El-Sisi as the candidate of the military.
The delay in the expected announcement leaves room for wide speculation about whether the military leader, coasting on a wave of popularity based on his strongman image and his role in Morsi’s ouster, will in fact stand for the highest office.
Some, including those who are working on the political programme that he plans to offer to the nation along with his candidacy, insist vehemently that it is far too late in the day for him to back out.
Some -- a small minority -- argue however that El-Sisi may not run, and may instead choose to remain in place of head of the armed forces and minister of defence. These positions are now protected from executive interference by the constitution and by the recent decree.
Egyptian military-backed cabinet reshuffled with Adly Mansour and Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. The so-called June 30 coalition has been dismantled., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egypt cabinet reshuffle hints at 'dissolution of 30 June alliance'
Ayat Al-Tawy, Saturday 1 Mar 2014
Pro-democracy figures express misgivings over the allegedly forced resignation of Egypt's transitional cabinet that had liberals and leftists in the vanguard
As Egypt continues to grapple with the fallout of three years of political tumult that has seen six cabinets appointed to date, a new caretaker government is now in place to face afresh the daunting task of returning stability and economic confidence.
Formed in the wake of the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the interim government led by liberal economist Hazem El-Beblawi stepped down Monday -- a move analysts view as an attempt to quell growing disillusionment against a backdrop of labour strikes, militant violence and a faltering economy.
The departing cabinet bowed out following months of mounting pressure from what critics say was a relentless campaign waged by old regime protagonists to exclude democrats and revive the police state. A new adminstration was sworn in on Saturday by new Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, a former official in Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
"The state hawks think the dust has settled and their battle with the [Muslim] Brotherhood is now over and that it's time to exclude others and grab power and re-introduce the police state," said Farid Zahran, political analyst and deputy head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, of which El-Beblawi is a leading member.
The once-ruling Brotherhood movement has been battered by a sustained security crackdown since Morsi's ouster that has seen hundreds of Islamists killed and thousands of others, including much of the group's upper echelons, thrown behind bars.
"The strong antagonism created by local media towards the 2011 uprising in recent months, portraying it as a power-grabbing attempt by the Brotherhood, and asserting that 30 June is the real revolt, epitomises the campaign to push out democratic forces from the scene," Zahran said.
Lack of transparency
With a new adminstration in place, critics say it is inauspicious amidst ambiguity surrounding the reshuffle and a likely brief tenure until a presidential poll due in April brings a new president to power.
"It's an extension of its predecessor: a lack of transparency about who comes and who leaves, an absence of a clear-cut programme and a typical reactive approach," said Waheed Abdel-Meguid, spokesperson of the National Salvation Front (NSF), a key opposition grouping during Morsi's presidency.
The reshuffle surprised even some in the cabinet, with El-Beblawi himself widely said to have been forced to resign.
"Ministers in the [outgoing] government were hanging by a thread. They accepted to enter a dark room and be part of an ad-hoc system where nobody knew what they were going to do. And this continues to be the case with the new adminstration," Abdel-Meguid explained, adding that he turned down the culture portfolio in one of the post-revolution governments due to prevalent arbitrary decison-making on the part of authorities.
Most of the ministers in the departing cabinet have been kept on in the new line-up which has done away with leaders of political parties and brought in some new business magnates.
Army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, tipped to be the next head of state, has retained his post as defence minister in Mehleb's 31-strong cabinet. El-Sisi, whose popularity has skyrocketed since he led the ouster of Morsi last summer, has yet to announce his candidacy, but several officials say he has decided to run for president.
The uneasy alliance of pro-democracy advocates, right wingers, leftists and even old regime figures and Islamists who coalesced last summer to demand Morsi's overthrow and now lack a common cause are being used to bear the brunt of the country's current malaise, say some observers.
"El-Beblawi's [forced] resignation was one of many steps towards dissolving the 30 June alliance," Zahran said of the forces that backed last summer's mass protests that led to Morsi's ouster.
With a government of the likes of internationally-renowned opposition figure and former UN diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, liberal politician Ziad Bahaa-El-Din, and law professor and outspoken critic under Mubarak Hossam Eissa in the vanguard, the outgoing cabinet was relatively seen as being a cross-section of the revolution's stripes, which appears absent in the new make-up.
Discord within the cabinet came to the fore early on when ElBaradei quit as vice president almost a month and a half into office after security forces violently disbanded two pro-Morsi protest camps, leaving hundreds dead in one of the worst bloodbaths in decades.
Other controversies also caused faultlines within the cabinet, including a new law that bans all but police-sanctioned protests, and the designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
"The revolutionary figures were on the horns of a dilemma in the face of mounting criticism from media and the public," Zahran said.
"[We] did not want to withdraw from the scene, so we're not blamed for leaving a sinking ship, and were rather seeking to retain that bloc that brought down the Brotherhood."
Mehleb: The right choice?
The January resignation of El-Beblawi's deputy, Ziad Bahaa El-Din, a moderate who had been at loggerheads with other government hardliners for sponsoring an initiative favouring political inclusivity should the Brotherhood renounce violence, was another sign of a growing chasm.
In recent months there were increasing disenchantment with El-Beblawi for failing to keep a vice-like grip on the country's security -- a task analysts say belongs to Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, both holdovers in the incoming cabinet.
Since Morsi's overthrow in July, Egypt has been rocked by a deadly Islamist insurgency that has severely decimated investment and an already plummeting tourism industry, vital to keep economy afloat.
But for some, Mehleb, once a long-serving head of a leading construction conglomerate and an outgoing housing minister, is not the man for the current phase.
"The selection of Mehleb, a successful technocrat administrator, and his formation of the new government with some businessmen, does not seem to strike a much-need political balance," said Akram Al-Alfy, a political researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
"Egypt's transition needs an economist politician who can get to grips with challenges of instability and economic woes," he added.
PROFILES: Ministers in Egypt's new cabinet
Ahram Online, Saturday 1 Mar 2014
Ahram Online profiles the 18 ministers who might keep their jobs in Egypt's new interim cabinet, and nine more new additions
In the process of forming a new cabinet, Egypt's new premier Ibrahim Mehleb has been meeting on Friday candidates for ministerial posts, following the sudden resignation of ex-premier Hazem El-Beblawi on Monday.
At least 18 ministers from the cabinet of outgoing prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi will retain their positions in the new cabinet.
Nine new ministers have already been tentatively selected. Three positions are still undecided in the ministries of health, higher education, and justice.
All ministers in the new cabinet are expected to be sworn in within a few days.
The cabinet shuffle also saw 12 ministries merged to become six: the ministries of trade and investment, planning and cooperation, youth and sports, higher education and scientific research, local and administrative development as well as transitional justice and house of representatives.
It has not yet been confirmed whether Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi will continue as defence minister.
However, anonymous sources have told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website on Wednesday that El-Sisi is likely to do so.
If El-Sisi stands for president – as is widely predicted – he must resign from his ministerial post and his position as head of the armed forces.
Meanwhile, interim President Adly Mansour issued on Wednesday a decree that states that the defence minister must be an officer and have served in the armed forces with the rank of major general for at least five years.
Many of the outgoing cabinet's most highly recognised figures have not been appointed in the new government, such as Hossam Eissa, who served asdeputy prime minister and higher education minister, in addition in manpower minister Kamal Abu-Eita and finance minister Ahmed Galal.
Ministers set to remain in their posts:
1- Mohamed Ibrahim –Minister of Interior
Ibrahim was originally appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in January 2013, and was one of the few ministers to keep his post after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.
Human rights activists and several opposition figures have been calling for his dismissal since the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square left hundreds dead.
Under Ibrahim's leadership, the police have launched a broad crackdown on Islamists and more recently on secular opposition activists.
Ibrahim's main challenge has been a militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and a growing number of terrorist attacks across the country that have killed dozens of police and soldiers.
2- Nabil Fahmy –Minister of Foreign Affairs
Fahmyis dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, and was Egypt's ambassador to the US from 1999 to 2008.
Previously, he was the country's ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 1999. He also served as political advisor to the foreign minister from 1992 to 1997.
The career diplomat has worked extensively on issues of Middle East peace and regional disarmament.
Fahmy was born in New York in 1951. He has a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics and a master's in management, both from the American University in Cairo.
3- Adel Labib –Minister of Local and Administrative Development
Labib, 68, served as governor of several provinces under Hosni Mubarak, including Qena in Upper Egypt, Beheira in the Nile Delta, and Alexandria.
There were major protests against him in Alexandria, with some local groups accusing him of mismanagement.
In 2011, prime minister Essam Sharaf appointed him governor of Qena for a second time after local protesters backed him over an unpopular alternative.
He was Qena governor until June 2012 when he was replaced in a reshuffle by president Mohamed Morsi.
4- Ashraf El-Araby –Minister of Planning and International Cooperation
El-Araby served as planning minister from August 2012 until May 2013 under prime minister Hisham Qandil. He was replaced by Muslim Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag.
An economist by training, El-Araby received his doctorate from Kansas State University in the United States. For the majority of his career, he worked at the country's National Planning Institute.
From 2006 until the end of 2011 he headed the technical advisory office of former planning minister Fayza Abul-Naga.
After a brief interlude, during which he worked at the Arab Planning Institute in Kuwait, El-Araby was called back to head the ministry.
He was a key part of the Egyptian team negotiating with the International Monetary Fund over a $4.8 billion loan – a role he is expected to take up again.
5- Atef Helmy –Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Helmy was originally appointed communications minister in January 2013. He resigned from the cabinet on 1 July in protest at Mohamed Morsi's failure to respond to nationwide protests against his rule.
A graduate of a military technical college, Helmy obtained a diploma in computer science from Ain Shams University in 1979.
After leaving the army in 1983, he began his career in the civilian IT sector, working at several Egyptian and multinational corporations, including Oracle Egypt, where he became managing director.
6- Ayman Abu Hadid –Minister of Agriculture
Abu Hadid was first appointed agriculture minister in the cabinet of Ahmed Shafiq, which was formed during the January 2011 uprising. He continued to serve as minister in the following cabinet under Essam Sharaf.
He was replaced as minister under Hisham Qandil in 2012.
7- Dorreya Sharaf El-Din –Minister of Information
Sharaf El-Din was appointed by El-Beblawi and is the first woman to hold the post.
The information ministry has long been criticised for its control over the media, and since the January 2011 revolution many have called for it to be abolished.
Sharaf El-Din is a significant figure in the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union. She previously served as the first undersecretary of the information ministry, heading the satellite channels division.
She has also hosted several television shows including Sual (Question) on a state channel and Ahl El-Raey (People of Opinion) on the privately-owned Dream channel.
Sharaf El-Din was also a member of the policies committee and the women's committee of Hosni Mubarak's now-dissolved National Democratic Party.
8- Hisham Zaazou –Minister of Tourism
Zaazou, 59, continues in his post as tourism minister.
He is a political independent who was appointed tourism minister in August 2012. He was previously assistant to former tourism minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour.
Zaazou resigned in June when a member of militant Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was appointed governor of Luxor. He later withdrew his resignation and continued as minister after the governor resigned.
9- Laila Iskandar – Minister of Environment
Laila Iskandar is an Egyptian social entrepreneur who has worked on environmental projects that have received international recognition.
She has worked extensively with garbage collectors in Cairo, particularly the community in Moqattam, winning the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1994 for her work. She also set up a recycling project in Sinai working with the local community.
Iskandar was chairperson of CID Consulting (Community and International Development Group) that works with garbage collectors in Cairo on environmental initiatives such as recycling.
CID Consulting received the award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year from the Schwab Foudnation at the World Economic Forum in 2006. Iskandar received the award from then-prime minister Ahmed Nazif in Sharm El-Sheikh where the forum was held.
During her ministerial post, she stood against cement plants seeking to obtain cabinet approval to render coal an alternative source of fuel due to shortages in traditional fuels such as natural gas. The issue remains unresolved.
Iskandar studied economics and political science at Cairo University. She then went on to gain a master's in teaching and a doctorate in education at UC Berkeley, California and Columbia University, New York respectively.
10- Mahmoud Abul-Nasr –Minister of Education
Abul-Nasr was formerly head of the ministry’s technical education sector.
He is currently a faculty member at Cairo University’s mechanical engineering department.
11- Mohamed Amin El-Mahdy –Minister of Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation
An international judge and a prominent lawmaker, El-Mahdy, 77, is a member of the advisory committee of the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) and the National Human Rights Council.
Graduating with a degree in law in 1956, El-Mahdy started out as an associate in the technical office of president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, and later became an advisor to the justice and finance ministers.
Over his extensive career, El-Mahdy has assumed several leading judicial posts. From October 2000 to September 2001, he chaired the Egyptian State Council and the High Administrative Court.
From 1994 to 1997, he served as a constitutional advisor to the Kuwaiti emir.
He was the only Egyptian judge to serve on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the body tasked with prosecuting crimes committed during the country's wars.
In 2007, El-Mahdy was selected by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to be member of the tribunal trying suspects in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
He served on a fact-finding committee tasked with investigating violations committed during the January 2011 uprising.
He also heads a national committee tasked with retrieving Egyptian funds from overseas.
The post of minister of transitional justice and national reconciliation was created in 2013.
12- Mohamed Ibrahim –Minister of Antiquities
Ibrahim was appointed minister of antiquities in December 2012 in the cabinet of prime minister Kamel Ganzouri, and continued in the role under Hisham Qandil until May 2013.
A professor of antiquities at Ain Shams University, Ibrahim has many critics among Egyptian archaeologists and Egyptologists, including ministry employees.
A webpage representing antiquities ministry employees announced their rejection of Ibrahim's appointment and their plans to go on strike and stage a sit-in in front of the ministry building in Cairo's Zamalek.
Critics of Ibrahim say that during his tenure he failed to address corruption, did not provide temporary ministry employees with permanent contracts, and allowed the situation at archeological sites to deteriorate.
13- Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa –Minister of Religious Endowments
Gomaa is dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, and a member Al-Azhar’s senior clerical institute.
He was born in 1939 in Qalioubiya governorate. He earned his degree in Arabic in 1965 and later completed a master's degree and a doctorate.
Gomaa worked at several newspapers as an Arabic proofreader and has been a member of the Journalists Syndicate since 1972.
He is also the author of several books on religion.
14- Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour –Minister of Industry, trade and Investment
Abdel-Nour claims to have refused a ministerial position under Mohamed Morsi.
He is currently secretary-general of the National Salvation Front, the main opposition bloc under Morsi’s regime.
The 68-year-old served as tourism minister from February 2011 until August 2012 under Essam Sharaf.
As secretary-general of the Wafd Party, he was the first minister from an opposition party to hold a cabinet post for 30 years.
He is also the founder of the Egyptian Finance Company and was a member of the National Council for Human Rights.
He is a director of the Egyptian Federation of Industries and the Egyptian Competition Authority.
15- Sherif Ismail –Minister of Petroleum
Ismail's name was not announced until just before the swearing-in ceremony on 16 July 2013. Another name, Mohamed Shoeb, had been circulating as the person expected to be appointed to the ministry.
Ismail is chairman of the state-owned Ganoub El-Wadi Petroleum Holding Company which manages exploration and production concessions, establishes joint ventures with private companies and constructs oil infrastructure.
16- Khaled Abdel-Aziz –Minister of Youth and Sports
Abdel-Aziz was the head of the Shooting Club, a private sports club in Giza, and then became chairman of the National Council of Youth.
He is a member of the Egypt Party, founded and led by moderate Islamic preacher Amr Khaled.
Abdel-Aziz was director of the 2006 African Cup of Nations, which Egypt hosted and won.
17- Ibrahim El-Demery - Minister of Transportation
This is the third time El-Demery has been chosen as transportation minister. His first term was from 1999 to 2002. He was removed from office after an overcrowded train caught fire in Feburary 2002, killing 373, in Egypt’s worst train disaster.
18- Mohamed Saber Arab - Minister of Culture
Mohamed Saber Arab is a history professor at Al-Azhar University. He was head of the Egyptian National Library and Archives from 2006 until May 2012.
He was first appointed Minister of Culture in May 2012, succeeding Shaker Abdel-Hamid. Arab resigned from the post in June to be allowed to win a state prize for social sciences worth LE200,000, which sparked controversy at the time.
Arab was reinstated in Hisham Qandil’s cabinet in June 2012.
Arab resigned again in January 2013 in protest at brutal treatment of anti-government protesters by police. However, he returned to his position shortly afterwards at the request of Qandil.
He was replaced by controversial figure Alaa Abdel-Aziz in the cabinet reshuffle of May 2013, who faced weeks of protests from members of the arts community after his sackings of high profile culture ministry figures.
1- Mohamed Shaker –Minister of Electricity
Shaker is chairman of Shaker group, a consultancy and engineering firm that specialises in electricity projects.
His firm is currently designing and constructing the power generation plant of the Cairo Metro's third phase. It has also built major transmission lines and power generation plants across Egypt and other countries.
2- Nahed El-Ashry –Minister of Manpower
El-Ashry headed the department of labour relations and collective bargaining at the ministry under Morsi and in El-Beblawi's cabinet.
She has worked with most of the other cabinet ministers, and has played a big role in negotiations with striking workers.
3- Ghada Waly –Minister of Social Solidarity
Waly is the secretary-general of the Social Fund for Development (SFD), a government entity that provides startup companies with financial help and other services. Her past experience includes a stint at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where she worked towards poverty reduction and job creation.
Waly has previously called on the Egyptian government to encourage entrepreneur innovation and development in the microfinance sector.
Waly was also a board member of the Consumer Protection Agency, the first government body for consumer protection, which was created in 2006.
She studied at Colorado State University in the USA, earning an M.A. in Arts and Humanities in 1990 and a B.A. in 1987.
4- Tarek Hanafi –Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources
Hanafi headed the central department for water resources at the ministry under Mohamed Morsi, serving asa senior minister's aide.
He dealt with emergency plans, operational programmes and following up with the legislation related to management of water resources. He earlier headed the ministry's planning department.
He worked as an international expert in water resources management at the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Washington and Sanaa in Yemen.
Hanafi, who also served as a consultant in the field of water and conflict resolution in several projects funded by USAID and the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO , and Development Agency of Japan (JICA), was responsible for the Nile Basin file at the ministry of irrigation.
5- Khaled Hanafi –Minister of Supply
Hanafi is chair of the Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA), a governmental body belonging to the ministry of supply. He was appointed chair of ITDA after a decision by outgoing Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi in late November 2013.
He is also dean of the International Transport and Logistics faculty at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport.
6- Hossam Kamal–Aviation Minister
Kamal was appointed as the chairman of the national aviation company EgyptAir in August 2013. That same year he was also chosen as a representative for Arab airlines in the International Aviation Union.
Kamal's career in the aviation industry has seen him involved with cooperation projects for fuel and equipment purchase as well as a plan to exchange used parts to cut costs on Arab airlines.
7- Ibrahim Younis–Minister of Military Production
Younis is a major general in the army and chairman of the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation (AOI), a military-owned company considered one of the largest industrial organisations in Egypt.
The AOI supreme committee is headed by the country's president and includes several other cabinet ministers.
8- Mostafa Madbouli–Minister of Housing
Madbouli is an architect and urban designer who wasdirector of the UN's HABITAT Regional Office for Arab States.
He holds a PhD in urban planning from Cairo University and a postgraduate diploma in urban management from the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam.
He served as chairman of the Gerenal Organisation of Physical Planning for almost four years.
Madbouli is succeeding new prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb.
9- Hany Kadry Dimian - Minister of Finance
Dimian was first deputy finance minister for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013, when he resigned for apparent unease over the rising influence of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated economists, according to sources from the finance ministry. Before this post, he was deputy minister for five years.
Dimian has been a key Egyptian negotiator with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In 2008, he was appointed as the Chairman of Deputies for the IMF's International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC). He was the IMFC's deputy at a G20 summit and chaired the IMFC communiqué drafting sessions.
Dimian was close to Youssef Boutros Ghali, a powerful finance minister from the Hosni Mubarak era who fled the country in February 2011.
Dimian attended Columbia University in New York, where he received a master's degree in international affairs and economic policy management.
Li Yuanchao (3rd R), a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, a member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat and head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, meets SA delegations., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
China sees South Africa as equal: president Zuma
02-28-2014 05:45 BJT
CAPE TOWN, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- China sees South Africa as equal, particularly in doing business, President Jacob Zuma said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
China is unlike former Western colonial powers who still act like Africa's master, Zuma told CNBC Africa.
"The countries that have been dealing with us before, particularly old economies, they've dealt with us as former subjects, as former colonial subjects," Zuma said.
"The Chinese don't deal with us from that point of view. They deal with us as people that you must do business (with), at an equal level so to speak. It's not the Chinese only, there are many other countries," Zuma said.
"China has come to do business, not to try to tell you what to do, what not to do. Others do."
"Part of the reason Africa, as much as it (was) decolonized many years ago, has never developed is because the relationships are not equal," Zuma said.
He called the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as a new partner with Africa.
South Africa can lobby the grouping to base a planned development bank on the continent, which would be impossible with Western partners, Zuma said.
China has become Africa's largest trade partner, and Africa is now China's major import source, second largest overseas construction project contract market and fourth largest investment destination.
In 2009, China became Africa's No. 1 trade partner. In the following two years, the scale of China-Africa trade expanded rapidly. In 2012, the total volume of China-Africa trade reached 198.49 billion U.S. dollars, with a year-on-year growth of 19.3 percent, according to official statistics.
East African proposed oil pipeline. The project would involve the states of South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Oil is a major source of speculation in the region., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa)
Africa's Transformation Agenda Needs to Be Led By Africans
BY ANTONIO PEDRO, 28 FEBRUARY 2014
Eastern Africa is confronting major economic and social challenges resulting from accelerating processes of urbanisation, population pressures, and high degrees of income inequality.
Despite a much improved economic performance in the 2000s after two decades of economic stagnation, a lot of social and economic aspirations have still not been fulfilled. Social cohesion is still fragile in some countries. Although $1.25-a-day poverty has been reduced in relative terms (from 65 per cent of the population in 2000 to 54 per cent of the population in 2011), the absolute number of citizens living below the international poverty line has actually increased from 155 million to 166 million.
There is a need to speed up the "structural transformation" of our economies -- put simply, the shift of economic activities out of low-return, low productivity sectors like subsistence agriculture into high-tech, high productivity sectors like manufacturing and telecommunications services.
The real challenge is nurturing our own entrepreneurs and enterprises or "Africapitalism," whereby African nationals are at the forefront of efforts to develop our economies through business.
The region has an already impressive list of companies and firms that are competing regionally -- firms like Ethiopian Airlines, or Equity Bank. In Jonathan Berman's book Success in Africa, we find compelling personal accounts of 20 top risk-taking and successful business leaders, who are benefiting from the continent's immense growth opportunities.
To trigger Africa's structural transformation, we will need to replicate these success cases across the continent. We need an Africapitalism revolution with a human face on a massive scale.
Large-scale state or private national lead firms that are competitive nationally, regionally and internationally are key to Africa's transformation agenda. But nurturing them requires long-term strategic choices, embedded in comprehensive industrial policy and local content programmes.
The first choice is the need to decide whether it will be possible, within a reasonable time-frame, to build up national capacities in a particular sector, or whether depending on the technological, financial and proprietary advantages of multinational corporations is a more realistic strategy.
Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks. The private sector of the region is generally characterised by its small scale and is handicapped by the institutional and physical environment within which it operate in which policy failures, capacity constraints, infrastructure bottlenecks, and poor market reach and intelligence, are the major challenges. Addressing these challenges must be a key priority for our governments.
As for the second response, the prevailing wisdom that most foreign direct investment (FDI) into our region is predominantly natural resource-based is not completely true -- the bulk of FDI goes into the secondary and tertiary sectors.
The notion that the signing of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) is a prerequisite to attracting FDI also needs to be reviewed. BITs are more focused on protecting investors. FDI capacity to contribute to structural change is limited. A key concern is its insignificant contribution to alleviating the employment challenges of the region.
As a consequence, the state will have to retain a key role in catalysing structural transformation in East Africa.
There are five possible key entry points: First, a coherent industrial and trade policy that spurs the emergence of competitive "national champions." This can be supported by a "local content and linkages development" policy. However, sound economic and business fundamentals should permeate policy design.
Furthermore, its effective implementation and delivery require a good understanding of behavioural economics and institutional analysis to identify business drivers, barriers and incentives for change, map the strengths and capacity of business operators, ascertain stakeholders expectations, and determine regulatory requirements and capacity development needs.
Second, there is a need to boost markets by sustaining policy reforms and easing the business environment. The new model of state involvement requires visionary governments that create value chain coalitions and hives of collaboration and competition in the marketplace to bridge gaps and enable collective solutions for scale and greater impact.
Cluster development anchored in national systems of innovation along selected value chains with an increased focus on regional markets should be prioritised.
Third, we must leverage trade and investment from the emerging markets and fourth, bring development planning back, strengthen institutions and address capacity gaps and information asymmetries. This must start within governments.
It is important to strengthen governments' ability to sustain policy implementation beyond political and electoral cycles and beef up their competence to move from visions to actions and implementation, including monitoring and evaluation.
Policy coherence, institutional co-ordination and cohesiveness between government departments should be improved. Marketing the region better should be a priority.
In addition, comprehensive skills and entrepreneurship development programmes are required to address local firm failures and enable domestic companies to enter value chains, locally and beyond. These programmes must be done in close collaboration with multinationals in the region and framed in their respective corporate social responsibility charters.
Finally, modernising and expanding the region's infrastructure stock -- banking, financing, capital markets, and trade and transport facilitation -- is a priority within priorities. Public private partnerships and other innovative solutions should be favoured to accelerate the region's infrastructure rebirth.
With the generally favourable macroeconomic context, we have a window of opportunity to change our fortunes permanently, and move out of the aid-dependent low-income countries to middle-income status. But that window may not remain open indefinitely. We need action now!
The risks to regional growth are multiple. Some are exogenous -- for example, global commodity prices (upon which part of the improvement in regional performance has depended) may decline, or demand from Asia -- which so effectively cushioned the region from the negative impact of the crisis in the US and Europe since 2008 -- may slow down.
The more serious risks come from within -- for instance, if job creation does not manage to keep pace with the rapidly expanding workforce, social unrest could end up undermining the whole growth process.
Antonio Pedro is the director of UN Economic Commission for Africa, Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa. It was published in "The EastAfrican Newspaper" Saturday 22 February 2014.
Former SPLM officials who were held in detention hold press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia amid peace talks. The ruling party is deeply split., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014
US to withdraw military aid to S. Sudan as tension escalates
February 28, 2014 (JUBA) - The United States has reportedly taken a decision to withhold its military aid to war-torn South Sudan, despite officials in the new nation saying it had not been notified about the new development.
The spokesperson of South Sudan’s foreign affairs ministry told Sudan Tribune on Friday that it has not received any official communication from the US or its affiliated financial institution about reports that the latter had decided to withhold military aid to the conflict-ridden East African nation.
"There is no official communication that I know from the government of the United States notifying the government of the Republic of South Sudan about its decision to withhold any assistance," said Mawien Makol.
The official was reacting to reports that President Barak Obama’s administration had decided to withhold military aid to the new nation and transfer some of that money to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in support of the ceasefire monitoring efforts.
Several officials and activists as well as experts on South Sudan and Sudan testified on Wednesday before the congress that the current developing political and security situation in the two countries require immediate attentions and actions through strong engagements.
Ambassador Donald Booth declared in testimony to a House of Representatives panel that "business as usual" must cease in the case of strife-torn South Sudan.
"As one sign of this", he said, “I would note that our security assistance to South Sudan is not going forward at this time, and that some of it is being re-programmed to support the regional verification mission."
The top US envoy did not, however, specify the amount of US funding being transferred to the ceasefire monitoring and verification initiative being carried out by IGAD, a regional bloc that consists of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia as its seven founding members. Eritrea was admitted in 1993, but was suspended in 2007.
South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011, became an IGAD member the same year it joined the United Nations and African Union bodies.
The envoy also did not indicate how much funding for South Sudan’s army and police is being withheld by the US, though the research arm of the US Congress notes that aid to South Sudan’s security sector has totaled more than $300 million during the past 10 years.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Ambassador Booth criticised the performance of South Sudan government, pointing out authorities in Juba "attempted to contain inter-communal violence without fully committing to the hard work of addressing its causes, which include trauma from decades of war, economic disparity, historical grievances between communities, human rights abuses, and political grievances due to real or perceived under-representation."
"On top of this", Booth noted, "the government had also progressively reduced the space for political competition, within and outside the ruling party, and for independent media and civil society voices to be heard.”
He endorsed the efforts by IIGAD, which is presently mediating the talks between the government and the rebels, who defected in mid-December, to try to resolve the conflict in the youngest nation.
"Their premise, one with which I agree, is that the government must not be given the space to return to business as usual with a quick fix and political accommodations for the main protagonists, for the simple reason that this will not bring about a sustainable peace".
Meanwhile, John Prendergast, a leading US human and civil rights activist, also testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on the developing situation Sudan and South Sudan.
Prendergast is a Co-founder of the Enough Project, an advocacy group which aims to prevent, war and crimes against humanity as well as genocide. He told the hearing that mass atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in both countries under the cover of war.
"Although the headlines for the last two months have been dominated by conflagration in South Sudan, conditions in Sudan’s Darfur region have deteriorated, and the [Sudanese] government’s bombing campaigns have intensified in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile", he said.
"The potential for a complete interruption in oil production threatens economies in both countries with implosion and bankruptcy. Conflict has interrupted the planting season, and with the rainy season fast approaching, humanitarian crises are spiraling out of control in both countries," added the activist.
Prendergast argued the US government to consider targeted sanctions as one instrument to create some accountability for the commission of war crimes and undermining of peace efforts.
"The African Union has already put targeted sanctions on the table for South Sudan, and the US should do so as well. If the UN Security Council is not amenable to utilizing this tool, the US should work with interested countries to deploy them in coalition with others”, he said.
Prendergast visited the South Sudanese capital, Juba and Bor one of the areas most affected by the conflict at the beginning of February.
SPLM-N negotiation team with former South African President Thabo Mbeki on Feb. 13, 2014. They are attempting to resolve outstanding issues stemming from the 2011 partition of Sudan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2014
Sudan government not serious about negotiations: SPLM-N
February 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement –North (SPLM-N) negotiating delegation in Addis Ababa accused the government of lacking seriousness to engage in talks to resolve the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, SPLM-N negotiating delegation spokesperson, Abdelrahman Ardol, said the government team declined to meet them without the presence of the African Union mediation and when the latter managed to gather them they refused to hold any informal preliminary consultations as it agreed previously.
On 18 February the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) adjourned the peace talks for 10 days and handed over a draft framework agreement to break the deadlocked discussions. The proposal provide to sign a humanitarian turn and to limit the talks on the Two Areas
Also the two parties agreed to be in Addis on 26 and to resume informal consultations on 27, in order to prepare the resumption of the process on 28 February.
"The AUHIP and the SPLM-N delegation were surprised by the absence of the head of the government delegation Ibrahim Ghandour and his replacement by Omer Suleiman who was not even privy to the arrangements for holding informal talks on February 27, 2014," Ardol said.
However, the Sudanese government delegation in a short meeting organised in the evening refused to hold the preliminary discussions, he added.
On Tuesday the Sudanese government appointed the former governor of South Kordofan state Omer Suleiman to lead its delegation, announcing that Ghandour would join the talks after his return from a visit to Yemen.
In a statement released after his return to Khartoum on Thursday, the presidential assistant confirmed the resumption of peace talks in Addis Ababa on Thursday.
The negotiations on the document proposed by the mediation would continue for three days, further said the head of the government delegation.
Also, Ghandour was keen to emphasise that the draft framework agreement limits the talks to the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Ardol said the rejection of the government delegation to hold the preliminary consultations comes in line with its disinterest in a negotiated solution. He further mentioned press statements published on 26 February in Khartoum expressing the army’s readiness to end the conflict militarily.
The rebel spokesperson further said Ghandour is absent because he was seeking partial solution and a cessation of hostilities only in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Concerning the draft framework agreement proposed by the mediation, the SPLM-N spokesperson vowed to come to the negotiating table on Friday with "new ideas about the comprehensive solution and the humanitarian situation".
CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN ACCESS
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan ad interim, Adnan Khan, urged the two parties to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement and to implement the signed humanitarian deals to enable aid group to reach the civilians in the war zones.
Khan said the political negotiations can continue once they sign a truce and agree to implement the humanitarian deals.
"What we need now is for the fighting to stop and for the parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have safe, unhindered and immediate access, so that the needs of all who are suffering can be met," he said.
Representatives of Sudan (left) and leaders of Abbala and Beni Hussein ethnic groups (right) sign the document of agreement in the North Darfur Wali (Governor) residence in El Fasher, North Darfur., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014
Arab League built 15 villages in Darfur – envoy
February 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The Arab League representative in Khartoum, Salah Halima, stated that the regional organisation built 15 villages in Darfur as part of efforts to bring peace in the region.
Halima made his remarks in a meeting with Darfur Voluntary Organisations Network (DVON) to discuss humanitarian, rehabilitation and recovery projects in the western Sudan region.
In a statement released after the meeting the Arab League and the pro-government network agreed to revitalize humanitarian activities and implement development projects to encourage voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.
The meeting also agreed to hold donors conference to support humanitarian aspect.
Sudanese government since March 2009 expelled 10 major aid groups working in Darfur and tasked local groups with the distribution of humanitarian assistance.
Halima stressed that Arab League would continue its efforts to achieve peace and security in Darfur. He added that the regional body built 15 model villages besides establishing 6 agricultural projects and several development and services projects in the war-ravaged region.
He added that foreign donors paid only $250 million for reconstruction of Darfur in the form of pledges to implement development projects under local and foreign technical monitoring.
The Arab rehabilitation projects were established in implementation of a decision adopted in a summit held in Doha in March 2009. At that meeting the league decided to allocate eight million dollars monthly for Darfur.
The Egyptian diplomat disclosed the Arab League secretary general’s special envoy for humanitarian affairs, Hissa Khalifa bin Ahmed al Thani, would visit Sudan in early April to assess the situation in Darfur on the ground.
The head of DVON, Hassan Bargo, who is also a leading member of the ruling party, underscored preparations to receive the upcoming comprehensive peace, pointing the next period shall witness intensive work to resolve humanitarian issues.
Arab countries are often criticised for not contributing enough in the ongoing efforts to rebuild Darfur, a region where the 10-year conflict forced over four million to flee their villages and areas. UN agencies say there are still one and half million in the IDPs camps and some 200,000 refugees in neighbouring countries particularly Chad.
In April 2013, an international donor conference for reconstruction in Darfur was held in the Qatari capital of Doha where participants made financial pledges of $3.6 billion.
The figure included $2.65 billion from Sudan’s government. Qatar, the host of the peace process and donor conference, declared that it is making a $500 million contribution.
SPLM delegation with Ugandan forces in Bor County, Jonglei state. They were there to investigate an alleged massacre of civilians., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014
Status of Jonglei displaced causing tension in Nimule
By Ijoo Bosco
February 28, 2014 (JUBA) - The governments of Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states as well as community leaders from the Madi and Dinka Bor ethnic groups on Friday held a consultative meeting over the fate of those internally displaced in Nimule payam of Magwi county.
The conflict in South Sudan has forced over 800,000 people to flee their homes. Eastern Equatoria currently hosts over 65,000 people, many of whom are from Jonglei, which witnessed one of the worst fighting in the aftermath of the conflict that began late last year.
The consultation forum discussed the Madi community’s refusal to allow internally displaced people from the Dinka Bor community settle in areas that they use for farming. The Madi expressed concerns that cattle owned by the displaced would destroy their crops.
The two-state consultative forum, Eastern Equatoria state Governor said, was to decide on modalities of how to assist the IDPs hesitating to be moved to another location within the state.
"We are here to dialogue with my counterpart government of Jonglei to help replocates or seek for alternatives way in order to help the resisting IDPs who are denied land for settlement by the Madi community of Nimule," said Louis Lobong Lojore.
The governor said they had agreed to visit the IDPs within the coming weeks. The displaced in Nimule claimed that Eastern Equatoria government had allegedly ordered humanitarian agencies not to provide assistance to them until they relocated.
Meanwhile, the acting governor of Jonglei state, John Koang Nyuon, hailed Eastern Equatorian government for hosting thousands of the displaced people from his state.
"Jonglei’s government will join efforts to resolve the tension regarding the presence of the IDPs in Nimule," Governor Koang said, adding that his government needed time to discuss issues that should urgently be addressed.
The governor asked that humanitarian agencies be allowed to provide relief to the internally displaced people in Eastern Equatoria state.
"This issue of relocating the IDPs cannot be decided overnight by [the] Madi community, we need it to be referred to national crisis committee and the presidency to decide on the fate of those hundreds of our greater Jonglei IDPs", Koang said.
Several government officials and community elders also attended the the bi-state meeting.
SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014
Jonglei’s Duk county paramount chief detained by rebels: MP
February 28, 2014 (JUBA) – The paramount chief of Duk county in Jonglei state has been detained by rebels who overran several payams [districts] this week, the area lawmaker told Sudan Tribune Friday.
Philip Thon Leek, the MP representing Duk county in South Sudan’s Parliament said James Cuei Leek was detained by opposition forces on Wednesday in Duk Payuel, located about 200km north of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.
"They abducted him in front of his children in Duk Payuel,” said Leek in an interview with Sudan Tribune in Juba.
Duk county authorities have accuse rebels of attacking villages earlier this week after allegedly being repulsed away by government forces from Gadiang, a military base in Jonglei.
Rebel spokesman, Lul Ruai Koang, accused the government forces of targeting Duk county civilians, though this has being refuted by the county authorities.
Duk county’s payams of Payuel, Patuonoi, Ager, Padiet and Mareng have been overrun by anti-government forces this week, commissioner Elijah Mocnom told Sudan Tribune on Thursday from Bor after escaping being arrested by rebels.
The traditional chief was arrested and detained for failing to show support for the rebels, MP Leek claimed.
The paramount chief’s wife was the last to see him on Thursday, Leek said.
"We urged the rebels not to harm the traditional chief," he appealed.
Duk Lost Boys clinic, the sole health facility in Duk county and neighboring Uror and Twic East counties, has been ransacked, MP Leek said.
"That clinic was the only (health) unit providing health facilities to a wide range of society," Leek said.
Duk Lost Boys clinic is being funded by South Sudanese in the United States, known as Lost Boys. The clinic is known for eye surgery.
Sudan Tribune was unable to reach the rebels for comment.
Duk county commissioner, Elijah Mocnom and MP Leek denied "false" claims by rebels that villages in the county were burned by government forces for mistaking them as being owned by members of the Nuer tribe.
Although the conflict began following political tension between senior members of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM), much of the fighting has been between members President Salva Kiir’s Dinka tribe and the Nuer tribe of his ex-deputy Riek Machar, who now leads the rebellion.
Machar denies attempting to oust Kiir in an alleged coup attempt on December 15. President Kiir’s critics, however, claim he used the split in the army (SPLA) to silence his opponents.
The conflict spread to Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, which all have significant Nuer populations. Both sides have been accused of committing atrocities against civilians.
"The SPLA are fighting rebels in Gadiang and there is no SPLA unit in Duk county," said Leek when asked who destroyed the villages of Mareng, Payuel and Ager in Jonglei on Tuesday.
When asked for a comment, South Sudan army spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer said government forces were focusing on protecting major towns.
He accused the rebels forces of burning villages in Duk county.
A second round of negotiations in Addis Ababa were due to have started over a week ago, but have been stalled due to rebel demands that Juba releases four political detainees and ask the Ugandan military to withdraw from the country.
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2014
S. Sudanese rebels protest inclusion of stronghold in ceasefire monitoring
February 27, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebels on Wednesday said they would not accept the mediators’ decision to include Nasir, one of its strongholds in Upper Nile state, among the ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism areas.
Taban Deng Gai, the head of the rebels’ negotiating team, said envoys from the East African regional bloc (IGAD) should not have included Nasir as one of the areas to be monitored, while excluding other areas held by pro-government forces.
The official, in a release extended to Sudan Tribune, said they were “disappointed” over the unilateral signing of the implementation modalities in support of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) by Juba and witnessed by IGAD Mediators, without taking into consideration concerns made by opposition forces.
“The initial agreed areas of deployment were Juba, Malakal, Bor, and Bentiu. This is in accordance with the provision of Articles 5.2 and 6b of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement based on the requirements on the ground. The IGAD special envoys may deploy additional monitors in consultation with the parties. After selecting the four areas noted above, the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) team included Akobo unilaterally after protracted discussion which IGAD consented to it,” the 26 February release partly reads.
“However, after JTC team visited Akobo, they decided to visit Nasir without consulting with the SPLM/A. The JTC team then added Nasir to the list without consultation and consent of the SPLM/A. Hence SPLM/A rejects any attempt to include Nasir as one of locations for the Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs) to monitor without taking into consideration issues raised”, the statement reads in part,” added the release, notifying the international community and the people of South Sudan.
There are fears within government that the rebels could use Nasir, a strategic area located at its border with neigbouring Ethiopia, as a base to receive military supports from outside allegedly without the knowledge of the Ethiopian government.
The rebels, it’s lead negotiator said, would only accept IGAD’s decision, if the purpose of deploying the monitoring and verification teams is to monitor movement of troops, deployment or redeployment, supply routes, sources of threat, and humanitarian access, includes area such as Nimule, Kaya, Nadapal, Parieng, Kwajok and Rumbek.
He also expressed concerns that the JTC chairperson never gave opposition forces sufficient time for consultation, adding that this lack of consultation may not provide conducive environment for monitoring and implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
Gai, however, reiterated the full commitment of his group to signing of the Implementation Modalities in Support Of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (CoH), once the issues, concerns and reservations raised are resolved.
The rebels earlier accused President Salva Kiir of using “delayed tactics” to undermine the monitoring and verification mechanism of the ceasefire, which formed the basis of the truce signed in Addis Ababa as part of efforts to end the conflict.
Such a move, according to the head of the rebel delegation, enabled the South Sudanese army (SPLA) to “make a mockery” of the ceasefire and thus launch attacks on rebels.
But the spokesperson of the army, in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune, accused the SPLM-In-Opposition forces of violating the agreed ceasefire, citing attacks on Malakal, which the rebels claim to control.
“Our forces have always respected the cessation of hostilities agreement, but this has continuously been violated by the rebel forces of Riek Machar,” said Philip Aguer.
General Peter Gadet Yaak of South Sudan is said to be leading a mutiny from the SPLA in Bor, Jonglei state. Hundreds have been killed in the fighting., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2014
Bor civilians say they were “spared” by Nuer fighters
February 27, 2014 (JUBA) – A group of civilians from the Dinka Bor community said they were recently “spared” by rebel fighters from the rival Nuer ethnic group when Bor town, the Jonglei state’s capital, was overrun in January by the opposition forces loyal South Sudan’s ex-vice president, Riek Machar.
The group of elderly women and one man currently residing in Bor town on Thursday told the story of how they were protected by “Nuer fighters” who defected and captured the town under the command of Gen Peter Gatdet Yak in the aftermath of the 15 December violence in the South Sudan capital, Juba.
“When the Nuer tribesmen came to the town we went to hide ourselves in an empty house left by a Nuer family in Bor. After they fully controlled the town they started dancing,” Rosa Ayool, one of the survivors told Radio Tamazuj.
“In the evening I and my relatives went to my sister’s house who is blind so that we could stay there together,” she added.
Ayool recalled that as Gatdet forces were withdrawing from the town to be replaced by the allied “White Army” they posted guards to prevent the White Army fighters from killing them.
However, when the White Army entered Bor town, she said opinions differed among the fighters over whether to kill the Dinka civilians or not, but said nobody was killed in the family of six.
“Thank God none of us was killed – we were five women and an elderly man,” she explained.
She, however, said the Nuer fighters demanded from them money and mobile phones the family possessed in order to leave them alone, but later on one of their leaders told them not to loot.
“These people are very desperate, leave them alone,” she recalled hearing the man telling his fighters.
“They did not leave us until they took five telephones from us, but after a few minutes the god-fearing man who had saved our life came back again and gave us biscuits and water and advised us to look for a safer place instead of hiding in the house which is not secure,” she said.
Targeted killings based on ethnicity between the two major communities of Dinka and Nuer occurred from 16 December when forces loyal to president Salva Kiir allegedly massacred thousands of Nuer civilians in Juba, when the president accused his rival, Machar, a Nuer, for alleged attempted coup, which the latter denied.
Revenge killings against the two ethnicities reportedly occurred also in the other states and cities such as Malakal and Bentiu in Upper Nile and Unity respectively.
Republic of South Sudan delegation to peace talks in Ethiopia. The talks with ousted Vice President Riek Machar were stalled on January 8, 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2014
S. Sudan rivals agree in principle to forming interim government
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
February 26, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - South Sudan government and rebel negotiators on Wednesday confirmed that IGAD, the regional bloc mediating peace talks, had put the formation of an interim government on the table for discussion.
Representatives of the two parties in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, told Sudan Tribune that they accepted the proposal in principle, which is part of regional efforts to end the political turmoil and conflict in the East African nation.
However, both sides dismissed rumours that the proposed formation of an interim government excludes the participation the two key actors - South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.
Members of the SPLM-in-Opposition told Sudan Tribune that the IGAD proposal did not mention the exclusion of any particular personalities, saying at this point it was an item on the agenda for discussion.
The two sides said it is too early to talk about who participates or is ultimately excluded from being part of the interim government.
Rebels said the proposed issue had not yet been discussed in detail and that the role and composition of the proposed interim government would need to be determined at a later date.
“We are on the negotiation and the agenda is broad, which shall include interim arrangements,” Taban Deng Gai, the head of the rebel delegation told Sudan Tribune.
“Discussing personalities’ participation in the interim government shall be the last” item debated in the new round of negotiations, he added.
A senior member of the government delegation who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press said the draft proposal had the backing of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), but insisted that Kiir remains the legitimate leader of the country.
On Monday, South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, rejected suggestions Kiir should resign given that he had been elected by an overwhelming majority.
“There is no reason to qualify such suggestions. If there are people who want to contest the same position they can do that in the 2015 [elections]. They will not be denied their right because we are a democratic country,” Marial told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
However, Machar’s SPLM/A-in-Opposition rebel group argue that Kiir has lost his legitimacy following the eruption of violence in the capital, Juba, in mid-December.
The violence was initially sparked by clashes between rival factions within the presidential guards, with Kiir accusing his former deputy of masterminding an alleged coup attempt.
The conflict subsequently spread across the country, pitting Machar’s supporters against pro-government force loyal to Kiir.
Kiir’s political opponents, seven of whom were arrested but later released and allowed to participate in the Addis Ababa talks, have denied claims they plotted to overthrow the government. Four other senior SPLM figures remain in custody.
The SPLM/A-in-Opposition says that South Sudan needs a new leader who can unite the South Sudanese people. They are also demanding the withdrawal of the Ugandan army (UPDF), which is currently providing military support to the South Sudan army (SPLA).
Juba initially denied UPDF’s role in military operations, but has since admitted it is footing the bill for their presence in the country, which has also been championed by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.
Meanwhile, Gai has denied that rebel forces loyal to Machar were the first to launch a military attack in Jonglei state’s Gadiang village on Monday.
Government forces said they had killed 173 rebels, including three generals, following the attack which comes in breach of a ceasefire agreement signed by both sides last month.
Gai, who was sacked as Unity state governor by Kiir last year, dismissed the accusations, while also disputing the number of rebel casualties.
“It is not true. We didn’t attack Gadiang. Government forces supported by [the] UPDF of Museveni launched [a] futile attack with an intention to advance to Akobo and Yuai. They were then beaten back to Gadiang with heavy losses in men and materiel,” he said.
The SPLM/A-in-Opposition’s forces “have now besieged Gadiang and will take it any time as [the] morale of Kiir[’s] forces is down and many of them have already deserted Gadiang”.
The first round talks between the two rival parties secured a fragile ceasefire agreement on 23 January, although the deal has failed to halt fighting on the ground.
Since the signing of the agreement, both sides have traded accusations of violating the peace pact aimed at ending the conflict which erupted has killed thousands and displaced almost a million people.
South Sudan’s government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, last week reiterated the commitment of the country’s leadership to the cessation of hostilities agreement.
While in an earlier interview with Sudan Tribune, SPLA spokesperson Phillip Aguer cited rebel attacks on the oil-rich Upper Nile capital, Malakal, as evidence that the ceasefire has “continuously been violated by the rebel forces of Riek Machar”.
The two sides have yet to resume the second round of peace talks on political and national reconciliation, stalling efforts to find a durable solution to the nine-week-old crisis.
Many analysts have expressed fears that Machar’s presidential ambitions and the desire by president Kiir to remain in power beyond 2015 will remain an ongoing stumbling block to resolving the conflict.
Republic of South Sudan Vice President James Wani Igga has called for mobilization of thousands of troops to fight forces loyal to ousted Vice President Riek Machar., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2014
South Sudan VP urges youth to reject tribal politics
February 26, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, has urged youth across the country to reject tribal politics, warning his government would not tolerate inflammatory statements.
Igga maintained the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had a clear mission and vision for the country.
“We want this country to be peaceful and prosper so that all our people enjoy the fruits of their struggle for liberation. But there are people who want to destroy this country with violence but we shall not allow them,” Igga said, urging youth not to be swayed by tribal rhetoric.
“They will come to you and say, ‘look, this tribe is this and that. They are against you. They do not want you that [is] why this and that was done’. Be careful, South Sudan is not a tribal state. It cannot be run by one or two tribes. It is a country comprising more than 63 ethnic groups,” the vice-president said.
Igga made the comments on Wednesday while speaking as chief guest at a funeral rite for a former senior community leader in his home state of Central Equatoria, during which he said the governing party “did not go into government to play but to work” for the people of South Sudan.
Igga pointed to development projects that have been undertaken since the SPLM came to power, saying more could be achieved by working together.
“In two years, we have started building roads and clinics. It is a big job because in more [than] 50 years of independence of Sudan from [the] British nothing was done here in Juba. Don’t drag us backwards, let us work together,” he said.
The vice-president cited the construction of internal roads which link some parts of the capital to key areas, including the Catholic Church in Kator, where president Salva Kiir and himself attend prayer services.
Igga further stressed tribal politics and regionalism were outdated and had no place in South Sudan.
“People who want to take power through tribal cards do not qualify to run a country,” he said.
“I want youth to take serious note of such peace and reject tribalism. Tribal politics will not do us anything good. It is all about destruction,” he said. “Our people need roads, schools, hospitals and peace so that they can concentrate on development, not war to kill them again.”
Igga said his government remained committed to restoring peace and stability in the country, adding that its delegation dispatched to Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for peace talks, were authorised to negotiate in good faith with rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
Former Vice-President Riek Machar in South Sudan during mediation. East African leaders are seeking an end to the fighting., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2014
Rebels threaten mass armed resistance unless Kiir resigns
February 26, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA)- A senior rebel leader has warned the South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, to resign or risk full armed resistance from the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in opposition.
Alfred Ladu Gore, a former national minister of environment who also commanded significant support, particularly from members of Bari community from his home state of Central Equatoria, said Kiir was a total failure beyond repair.
He accused the South Sudanese leader of what he described as genocide he committed against a section of the society.
"Salva Kiir should resign for the blood-letting to stop. The president has proved that he has no capacity to lead and so must go and face the ICC [International Criminal Court] who should try him for genocide," Gore told journalists on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Gore and Angelina Teny, wife of the South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar, who leads the armed resistance, were addressing a joint press conference in the Ethiopian capital where talks between the two warring parties had been taking place.
The general who survived the 21 years north-south conflict narrowly escaped from Juba on 15 December when the violence started and had been based in Lakes and Unity states since January.
The two leaders who arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday said they were ready for the worst should Salva Kiir not heed to the calls to resign, adding they have been establishing armed resistance groups in various parts of the country to force Kiir out of power if he refuses to step down.
They also warned foreign forces, particularly from Uganda to withdraw and avoid the conflict sliding into regional violence.
The opposition leaders however said there were indications that the talks might resolve the conflict between the two factions despite repeated violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement by the government and its foreign allies.
Gore together with the opposition leader Riek Machar and Taban Deng Gai, former governor of Unity state, were charged with treason by the minister of Justice in Juba for allegedly attempting a coup, a judgement the rebel leaders discredited as Salva Kiir’s one man’s show.
Gore and Teny will take part in the second round of the peace talks in Addis Ababa with the government to discuss the root causes of the conflict and how to resolve it.
Map of South Sudan where fighting has taken place between SPLA forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those aligned with Riek Machar., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2014
Upper Nile state claims government troops fighting rebels inside Malakal
February 26, 2014 (JUBA) - Upper Nile state’s information minster Philip Jiben Ogal said on Wednesday that troops loyal to the government have re-entered Malakal town, capital of the state.
Forces aligned to former vice-president Riek Machar, who is leading a two-month-long rebellion against the government, took control of the Upper Nile state capital a week ago. Machar began his rebellion after fighting broke out between the army in Juba in mid-December and he and others were accused of staging an attempted coup.
This has been denied by all the accused but Machar has since assumed control of defections from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.
Minister Ogal told Sudan Tribune that the SPLA" have entered Malakal town. They are inside Malakal in Maderia fighting the armed elements allied to Riek Machar."
He further claimed that rebels are evacuating their wounded soldiers from Malakal Teaching hospital to Nasir County, saying it is an indication that government troops would “soon” be back in control the town.
"I am speaking to you from inside Malakal town now. Our SPLA forces are advancing from different directions into the town. The rebels are now on the run towards Nasir", he said.
However, James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson for the opposition leader, Riek Machar, said government’s claims are not true.
"There is no fighting between any parties inside Malakal town. The state capital is fully under our control and has been calm since Tuesday last week when our forces recaptured it from pro-Kiir soldiers," he said, adding that the government official was fabricating the story from nowhere.
"When did the state information minister return to Malakal? I believe he could be fabricating the story somewhere in the bushes, but not certainly in Malakal town, unless he is hiding indoors," Dak stressed.
He further added that government forces and their foreign allies were nowhere to be seen in or around Malakal, saying they were being pursued and consequently lost Akoko county, which is 80km away north of the town.
Minister Ogal, on the other hand, accused rebels of looting and arson while they occupied the town.
He also denied claims that rebel forces were heading towards Upper Nile’s oil fields.
"How can they go to the oil field when they are engaged in the fight?" he said.
The state minister said that the rebels are leaving Malakal and retreating to Nasir and Maiwut counties which they still control.
Around 10,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict and over 700,000 people internally displaced.
Meanwhile, Maban county commissioner, James Basha, said his areas has been overwhelmed with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in addition to the refugees from the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in neighbouring Sudan.
Basha said fighting took place in Guel Guk on Monday, some 30 kilometres south of Adar, one of country’s main oil fields, displacing more civilians to the area.
"The fighting which started in Guel Guk between the rebels belonging to the forces of Riek Machar and our forces SPLA is the cause of this mass movement of civilians", Basha said.
Commissioner Basha said he expects more displaced people to arrive from Paloich where, he said, tension has been building due to fears that the rebels were regrouping to launch another attack.
Sounds of heavy gunfire were heard from the Melut area on Wednesday morning, he said, explaining it was not clear whether it was gunfire due to an armed confrontation.
Melut is situated west of Paloich; an oil processing facility, which many in Upper Nile believe to be the next target for the rebels.
Melut town remains under government control, with some SPLA soldiers present in the area. Most of the people have little or no food, according to government officials who spoke to Sudan Tribune in a series of interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Upper Nile, the security situation in Fashoda county, an area exclusively inhibited by the Shilluk ethnic group, is reportedly relatively calm despite the huge number of displaced people from Malakal, some of whom are reportedly considering crossing the border into neighbouring Sudan.
In Upper Nile’s northernmost town Renk there were reports of shooting from the west across the river on Monday morning.
The cause of the shooting was not clear, although officials from the area claimed that Manyo County on the opposite bank has been contested since the start of the conflict in December.
Renk county presently remains under government control.
Rwandan peacekeepers patrol in Bangui in the Central African Republic. The western-backed regime is working with the US and France., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Mediation ‘still possible’ between communities in Central African Republic – UN official
28 February 2014 – Amid reports of retaliatory killings between armed Christian and Muslim factions the Central African Republic (CAR), a senior United Nations official today warned that “ethno-religious cleansing” is being carried out in the country, and now it is “most important” for mediation among the communities, and for more international forces to be deployed to protect civilians.
“It is still possible for communities to continue to live together, but intensive mediation is necessary for that to happen,” said Philip Leclerc, who is in charge of the protection cluster in CAR for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
“What is most important at the moment is that mediation take place in many [areas] across the country,” he said, adding however that if mediation fails, the UN has no other possibility but to evacuate groups to safer places, or secure their safe passage to the north, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad where some 288,000 people have taken refuge.
Back from a two-month deployment, Mr. Leclerc said that people were trapped and trying to save their lives amid escalating violence in which Muslims, in particular, were being targeted.
The conflict in CAR erupted when Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed, and 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.
“It is extremely important that international forces be increased so that people [can be] saved,” Mr. Leclerc said at a briefing in Geneva. He noted that the State is increasingly re-exercising its power, and security is also provided as a result of the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) and the French mission, known as Sangaris.
Noting that the violence in CAR reminded him of that which engulfed Gorazde and Srebrenica in 199r, he said that in an extremely dire situation, “people were relying on United Nations forces, and sometimes on protection jut by the mere presence [of those forces].”
“If there are more international forces, there would certainly be fewer human rights violations and fewer reasons for people to flee,” Mr. Leclerc said.
Also on the CAR today, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) confirmed that it had reunited four abducted children with their father.
The two girls and two boys were seized and held ransom by the militia, but released following negotiations.
“Child abductions represent a new and disturbing deteriorating in the conflict,” UNICEF spokesperson Patrick McMormick told journalists.
Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing the Central African Republic due to retaliatory attacks against their communities by the Anti-Balaka Christian militias. Chad is accused of siding with Muslims., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Central African Republic in worsening food crisis
Fighting and the lack of infrastructure are making it almost impossible to get aid into the Central African Republic. After several weeks delay, a food convoy has just arrived in Bangui. Many more are needed.
Herve Massi has been waiting a full month for this moment – along with hundreds of thousands of other internally displaced people in the Central African Republic.
A father of two children, he has just received five kilograms of peas, 30 kilograms of cornmeal and one and half liters of oil from the UN World Food Program (WFP). "Without these supplies we would be lost. We can't secure enough food on our own because of the fighting," he told DW.
But these rations are not enough to feed a family.
"They'll last perhaps for two weeks if we mix them with some cassava. Most people don't have any money by any supplementary items. We appeal to the international community to send us some sugar and milk," said Massi, whose five year old son is already showing signs of nutrition disorders.
It is the third time in two months that Massi and the other internally displaced people have received food aid. The urgently needed relief only arrives intermittently in crisis-hit Central African Republic. On Tuesday (25.02.2014) a WFP convoy drove into the capital Bangui for the first time in weeks. The 100 or so trucks had been forced to wait in neighboring Cameroon before they were allowed to continue their journey to CAR under a heavily armed escort.
Hundreds of thousands of people, like Herve Massi and his children, now live as best as they can in temporary shelter - in camps, churches, schools, mosques and at the airport. There they are protected by peacekeeping troops from the marauding militia. But the conditions in these makeshift camps are catastrophic – hardly any drinking water, far too few toilets and nothing to eat.
Half the country is waiting for food aid
"The main challenge is to get food inside the country," said Alexis Masciarelli from the WFP. Two weeks ago his organization had just 85 tons of rice left in its warehouse in Bangui. Under normal circumstances that would be food for just three days.
The reason for the delay in bringing in more supplies was 600 kilometer (372 miles) stretch of road that runs from Cameroon to Bangui.
"It is the only way in and out of the country. In January, the border was closed for us for three weeks. Since it has re-opened, there have been three convoys. So slowly there is food coming into the country, but it is not enough," said Masciarelli.
Even before the outbreak of the fighting in December 2013, some 1.3 million Central Africans were dependent on food aid to survive. That figure has since doubled to about half of the country's population of 4.5 million and continues to increase every day.
The reason is that since the outbreak of the fighting the farmers have been unable to till the land or harvest their crops. And so food is now scarce in Bangui. Most shops are closed because it is to dangerous for them to open. If a shop does open, their shelves are generally bare – there is no sugar or bread.
The few goods that are on sale are often very expensive. Bangui residents are more or less broke. Wages are not being paid any more and the banks are shut.
Rainy season heralds disaster
The UN relief organizations were not prepared for this catastrophe in the heart of Africa. The problems are about to multiply, said Masciarelli. If food supplies are not brought to outlying regions before the rainy season makes them inaccessible, then there is the danger of a terrible humanitarian disaster.
After conducting a survey, the WFP concluded that 90 percent of farmers do not have seeds for the next planting season. "So we are entering what is likely to be a very durable food and nutritional crisis," Masciarelli said. "We requested for the emergency operation, starting in January and finishing in August, $107 million (78 million euros) for WFP to respond to the emergency.
It's not so much about receiving the food, but receiving it quickly," he said. Children are displaying the first signs of malnutrition.
The six month rainy season begins in April.
That's when the roads become impassable.
That's also when farmers have to sow seed for the next harvest. At the same time, the mosquito population – responsible for the transmission of malaria – rises. People suffering from malnutrition are more vulnerable to disease than those who are properly fed.
Time is running out in the Central African Republic both for those in need and the agencies trying to help them.
French troops holds gun against civilians in the Central African Republic. The country may be occupied by another contingent of EU soldiers., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Analysis: Evacuation dilemma in the Central African Republic
BANGUI, 28 February 2014 (IRIN) - Zannah Bassar, a Muslim woman living in the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, has a simple message for the international community - she wants to be evacuated.
“I was born in this district,” she told IRIN this week, “but my home has been wrecked. I’ve been sleeping in the street for the past month and I want to send an SOS. I want to go somewhere else.”
Bassar and about 3,200 fellow Muslims are trapped in a kilometer-long district of Bangui known as PK12. Half a dozen other Muslims IRIN interviewed in the same district this week all said they wanted to leave.
“The people in PK12 have a deep desire to get out of there,” said Jacques Seurt, head of mission for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in CAR, which has stopped chartering rescue flights out of the country for lack of funding.
“They are under constant threat from the anti-balaka as are other Muslims in the west of the country.”
The country’s Muslims have been the target of reprisal attacks because the Seleka rebel alliance that toppled the government in March 2013 was predominantly made up of Muslims and committed widespread atrocities in many parts of the country.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on 25 February that “more than 15,000 people in 18 locations are surrounded by armed groups across the west of the CAR… and at high risk of attack,” adding that most of these people are Muslim.
"Areas we are particularly worried about include the PK12 neighbourhood in Bangui and the towns of Boda, Bouar and Bossangoa," a spokesman said.
Anti-balaka have been firing grenades at PK12 from surrounding hills and infiltrating the area, wounding several people, said Peter Neussl of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
On 19 February, UNHCR reported, the anti-balaka attacked a convoy of people trying to escape from PK12. All 21 men in the convoy were killed, leaving 119 children and 19 women, who fled to a nearby village.
Security has improved in Bangui since December when around 1,000 people were killed there in a few days, but attacks are still happening almost daily. On 22 February three Muslims were dragged from a taxi and shot dead at an anti-balaka road block, two days later five men were killed in the PK5 district and on 26 February four Muslim children were kidnapped (an OCHA worker helped negotiate their release two days later).
Options for relocation
Until recently a high proportion of the Muslims in CAR were Chadians, or of Chadian descent. In the past two months Chad’s government has been organizing large convoys, escorted by the Chadian army, to evacuate its citizens from CAR, but on 20 February, after the attack on the convoy from PK12, N’djamena announced an end to these operations and declared that 99 percent of its citizens that wanted to leave CAR had left.
"We shall be judged by the effectiveness of our actions, not the elegance of our principles. We don’t want to be complicit with ethnic cleansing but nor do we want any share of the blame for ethnic extermination"
Many Muslims interviewed by IRIN at PK12, Bouar and Bossangoa in the past two weeks said they want to go to Chad, as they have relatives there, but this option is becoming more difficult, and aid agencies are under increasing pressure to find other options.
Up to now aid agencies’ involvement in evacuations from CAR has mainly been limited to work by IOM, which has chartered flights for around 5,000 third country nationals, and UNHCR, which has assisted some refugees with travel.
OCHA is now considering plans for moving populations within the country.
Facilitating a division of the country on religious (and largely ethnic) lines will be controversial for aid workers. Amnesty International said last month that nobody wanted a debate on the issue.
But some officials feel it can no longer be ignored.
“We shall be judged by the effectiveness of our actions, not the elegance of our principles,” a senior aid worker said confidentially. “We don’t want to be complicit with ethnic cleansing but nor do we want any share of the blame for ethnic extermination.”
Peter Neussl explained current thinking: “We want to give people options for relocation. We are exploring possibilities inside Bangui of moving people to places that would be easier to protect.”
Transferring people within Bangui would be easier logistically, he said, as it is hard to find trucks and drivers who will take the risk of driving Muslims long distances through hostile territory, even with an armed escort.
Apart from the ill-fated convoy from PK12, other trucks have also come under fire or had grenades thrown at them in CAR in recent weeks. Five people were killed in one such incident and more than 20 in another, while the anti-balaka attacked a convoy of 89 vehicles on 16 February, wounding 12 civilians, although the attack was beaten off by the escort of peacekeepers.
“In the long term, people want to live in their home areas in security,” Neussl said, “but as a mid-term solution we are considering moving Muslims from PK12 to safer towns outside Bangui. We would have to be very careful about the possible impact of such transfers on the host population.”
Neussl emphasized that relocation should be a last resort.
UN Secretary-General Special Representative in CAR Boubacar Gaye told IRIN: “The secretary-general made very clear before the [Security] Council this week that we should do our utmost to stop the exodus of the Muslim population, and this is also the understanding of [CAR’s] Madam President Samba-Panza.
“Security is the first priority. The option of moving people under the international community’s escort is an option, one of the planning options.”
He stressed that any such move must be fully coordinated with the national authorities and fully explained, and that it would be “very dangerous for the future of the country to have all the Muslims in one part of the country and a de facto partition”, as this would be “sowing the seeds for future confrontation”.
The exodus of most Muslim traders and cattle herders from western CAR is already having serious economic effects, with meat and other products now scarce in the markets and concerns that supplies will deteriorate further.
Views from northwestern CAR
The UN’s senior humanitarian official Valerie Amos canvassed people’s views about relocation during her visit last week to Bossangoa, a town about 350km north of Bangui where some 1,200 Muslims are living in and around a school, l’Ecole de Liberté.
The town’s imam Ismail Nahi told Amos:
“If there were peace and security all the Muslims would come back… but the Christians have made it clear they don’t want to live with Muslims in this country. Wherever they find Muslims they will kill them and cut them into little pieces.”
A women’s group leader, Kadjidja Hassan, said people did not want to go to Chad because they had been in CAR a long time, but she added that they have now been in the camp for five months, and: “Muslims have been attacked in all the villages around Bossangoa. A Muslim can’t move more than one kilometre from this site. We’re all crammed in here, and our husbands can’t do anything. How can we live in Bossangoa?”
With Chadian African Union troops providing security, there have been almost no killings of Muslims in Bossangoa in the past two months, but nearly all the camp dwellers IRIN spoke to said they needed more security, although not all said they wanted to leave.
A group of men accused the district administrator (prefect), who was with the visiting delegation, of distributing weapons to the anti-balaka and said that if she were removed from her post they could stay on in Bossangoa. The prefect denied the accusations.
The typical view from most people seemed to be that unless they have security, by which they appeared to mean free movement outside their little ghetto, they would prefer to leave Bossangoa.
Although aid agencies are providing water and basic rations, living conditions are worsening, as the supplies that many people brought to the camp when they abandoned their shops are now finished.
IRIN interviewed Muslims at a site around a mosque in Bouar, near Cameroon, on 14 February. The “camp president” there said many at the site wanted to stay in the area but most other interviewees said they wanted to leave, as did most of the Muslims interviewed at a displacement site in Baoro, 50km away.
At both sites Muslims said they could not walk around the town as the anti-balaka would kill them.
The Muslims’ attitude may have changed in Bouar since the French military mission (Operation Sangaris) deployed about 300 men to the area on 15 February.
The situation at Bossangoa, Bouar and PK12 is not replicated everywhere in western CAR. UNHCR said on 25 February that “in some towns like Paoua (near the Chadian border) and in some quarters of Bangui, communities continue living and working together, although atrocities are frequently committed.”
So far there has been much less communal violence in the centre and east of the country where the Muslim population is larger. Nationally the proportion of Muslims was estimated at around 15 percent, but it is now lower.
More police needed
International security forces are to be reinforced in CAR, with 1,000 European Union peacekeepers due to be deployed soon. International Crisis Group analyst Thierry Vircoulon argues that more police, rather than troops, should be the priority.
The government is currently deploying only about 150 gendarmes (with donor funding) and even they man checkpoints alongside the anti-balaka, while the international police forces are well below the mandated level.
Winning public support in the battle against the anti-balaka may be a long process, as they are seen by many of the population as liberators after their fight against the largely Muslim Seleka rebels.
Most of the international security forces have tended to avoid confronting the anti-balaka, who can cause major disruption, and have closed down the airport on several occasions.
On 25 February IRIN passed the corpse of a Muslim man that had been lying at a crossroads in Bangui for several hours. A group of youths standing nearby said they had killed the Muslim with rocks and machetes because he had crossed a “red line”.
Peacekeeper patrols had passed the spot several times that morning but the youths were still at their checkpoint.
This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire.
French soldier searches Central African Republic resident in the capital of Bangui. Violence has continued despite the intervention of thousands of foreign troops., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Central African Republic doubts about French troops
28/02 17:54 CET
After months of growing chaos in the Central African Republic, in December, citing potentially genocidal conditions, France’s President François Hollande took action.
He announced: “It will be a swift, efficient operation that should stop armed groups, re-establish stability and allow free and fair elections when the time comes.”
But the 1,600 French troops got bogged down, supporting an African Union force of 5,700. Analysts estimated this still wasn’t enough.
The capital Bangui calmed down, but elsewhere people were still terrorised . Feelings over whether the French should stay or not were mixed.
One resident said: “France decided on this Central African Republic mission but we don’t see it today, we don’t see them on the ground. We still aren’t safe in most of the country.”
An incident that was representative of a lack of control came on 5 February when a new transitional president chosen by parliament appeared before a crowd in which a suspected former rebel was publicly murdered.
In the space of a few months, the tables turned on the Seleka rebels who took power in March 2013. Mostly Muslim, they went on a bloody rampage, till Christian militias sprung up in self-defence. Now the Muslim population is at the receiving end of violence.
Ethnic killing has displaced a million people. The country’s total population is only 4.6 million. In Bangui, 400,000 people are living in emergency camps, especially centring on the airport. In the rural forests, another 400,000 are living in fear without the most basic necessities.
The organisation Doctors Without Borders, one of the rare NGOs present, says access to drinking water, food and medical attention are the most urgent priorities, and that more people are suffering and dying indirectly than from violent action itself.