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    Liberté, Unité, Egalité Senior Contributor Tronic's Avatar
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    South Sudan: 3 Indian peacekeepers killed in attack on UN compound

    South Sudan: 3 Indian peacekeepers killed in attack on UN compound


    Three Indian peacekeepers were killed when attackers stormed a United Nations base in South Sudan where civilians had taken refuge, as violence and unrest continued unabated in the the world's newest country.

    "Unfortunately, just this very morning such militia groups have targeted and killed three soldiers from India in South Sudan," India's Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji told a UN meeting on peacekeeping last evening.

    Rebels from the second-largest ethnic group, the Nuer, stormed the base in Akobo in Jonglei state, targeting civilians of the majority Dinka ethnic community.

    About 1500-2000 rebels attacked the base where 43 Indian peacekeepers were present along with six UN police advisers and two civilians.

    The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said about 30 South Sudanese had sought shelter from the turmoil plaguing areas of Akobo County. The UNMISS, in a statement, strongly condemned the attack.

    The UN has said there were reports of more casualties but did given any further details. The mission said it is doing everything possible to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the assault on the base and secure the safety of its personnel who remain there.

    South Sudan has been in turmoil since President Salva Kiir accused his ex-deputy Riek Machar of mounting a coup. The unrest, which broke out on Sunday, has killed some 500 people so far. The conflict first erupted in the capital Juba but has since spread.

    Kiir, who is a Dinka, has blamed the violence on a group of soldiers who support Machar, a Nuer. The president accused them of trying to take power by force on Sunday night in a coup attempt by Machar, a claim the former vice president denies.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned by reports of growing violence in many parts of South Sudan, human rights abuses and killings fuelled by ethnic tensions".

    However, the government insists the clashes are over power and politics, noting that both sides involved in the clashes include leaders from different tribes. "We condemn in strongest possible terms attempts to depict the coup as ethnic strife," a government statement said.

    South Sudan: 3 Indian peacekeepers killed in attack on UN compound - Indian Express
    Wonder what it would take for the bloodshed in this region to stop. You'd think splitting the country would fix things, but apparently not.
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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tronic View Post
    Wonder what it would take for the bloodshed in this region to stop. You'd think splitting the country would fix things, but apparently not.
    That only fixed the dispute with the north. There are divisions in the South that were papered over by the war....to a point. Unfortunately it is not unusual for newly created nations to experience 'teething troubles' like this. This is still essentially a political issue, with members of Dinka & Nuer tribes on both sides. However, it is beginning to take on ethnic overtones, which could make it a lot harder to solve. I suspect that regional players like Ethiopia & Kenya will be working hard to stop this from getting worse. The last thing anyone wants (apart from Sudan, perhaps) is for Sth Sudan to descend into violence like this.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    That only fixed the dispute with the north. There are divisions in the South that were papered over by the war....to a point. Unfortunately it is not unusual for newly created nations to experience 'teething troubles' like this. This is still essentially a political issue, with members of Dinka & Nuer tribes on both sides. However, it is beginning to take on ethnic overtones, which could make it a lot harder to solve. I suspect that regional players like Ethiopia & Kenya will be working hard to stop this from getting worse. The last thing anyone wants (apart from Sudan, perhaps) is for Sth Sudan to descend into violence like this.
    What system, if any, of checks and balances do they have to deal with such issues? The Presidential system does not seem like a smart choice for nations with such diverse ethnic groups, especially if they have a tendency to clash. But then, I also doubt a Parliamentary system would work out all that well in nations inclined towards a warlord culture. The problem in South Sudan, and in most warring African nations, seems to be one of a lack of institutional discipline. Hard to enforce the writ of the government when your army splinters and starts butchering itself after every power struggle.
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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tronic View Post
    What system, if any, of checks and balances do they have to deal with such issues? The Presidential system does not seem like a smart choice for nations with such diverse ethnic groups, especially if they have a tendency to clash. But then, I also doubt a Parliamentary system would work out all that well in nations inclined towards a warlord culture. The problem in South Sudan, and in most warring African nations, seems to be one of a lack of institutional discipline. Hard to enforce the writ of the government when your army splinters and starts butchering itself after every power struggle.
    I don't think the issue is one of 'checks & balances', it is one of longevity & general acceptance. The new systems of government have been in place only a very short time & the extent to which those with the power to challenge them by force actually accept them is open to question. For people who have achieved freedom from unwanted masters by force the temptation to resort to it to resolve internal problems always exists, especially when new institutions have such narrow roots.

    Africa certainly struggles with the problem of democratic & accountable institutions having shallow roots that are regularly torn out. Latin America suffered from the same problems from independence until the 1990s & still periodically runs into them. Europe is still dealing with such issues in certain areas.

    Sth Sudan is a nation with a quite unique set of problems. Few nations can have been less well prepared for independence by its former rulers. There were only a few kilometres of paved road at independence & there are still whole swathes of the nation that are cut off except by air for substantial parts of the year. This lack of infrastructure & geographic mobility plays into ethnic divisions & makes it even harder to establish governing institutions that are broadly accepted.


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    On eof the dead at Akobo was a clinical health worker there as part of the International Medical Corps NGO.

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    Mob of TWO THOUSAND attacked Indian unit in Sudan

    The internal assessment has revealed that a mob of nearly 2,000 people attacked the Akobo camp as a fallout of the UNMISS and Indian Army sheltering 36 members of the Dinka tribe, in keeping with the mandate of the mission.

    In the ensuing attack, the 36-member detachment of the Indian Army - which had sought reinforcements - was overwhelmed by the mob.

    "A helicopter had indeed been activated which had on board one officer and six men for reinforcement. At Akobo, a BMP (infantry combat vehicle) was launched to secure the helipad for landing; simultaneously the mob attacked. Many of them were even carrying lethal weapons," said a source.
    It was also revealed that the mob, which was seeking the 36 Dinka tribe members, fired at the shelter-seekers and ransacked the camp.

    "These members who attacked us were largely from the Lou Neur tribe and they were successful in dragging away the Dinka tribesmen out of the camp," added the source.
    Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan (8 Rajputana Rifles) and Subedar Kumar Pal Singh (Army Medical Corps) were killed in the attack, while Naik Sahabul Mandal was left seriously injured.
    Sources said the troops trapped in Akobo were later evacuated by helicopters and moved to Malakal.
    "A search will be carried out soon with the local army unit to ascertain our losses," a source claimed.
    Revealed: How mob of TWO THOUSAND attacked Indian unit in Sudan | Mail Online

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    Liberté, Unité, Egalité Senior Contributor Tronic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    I don't think the issue is one of 'checks & balances', it is one of longevity & general acceptance. The new systems of government have been in place only a very short time & the extent to which those with the power to challenge them by force actually accept them is open to question. For people who have achieved freedom from unwanted masters by force the temptation to resort to it to resolve internal problems always exists, especially when new institutions have such narrow roots.

    Africa certainly struggles with the problem of democratic & accountable institutions having shallow roots that are regularly torn out. Latin America suffered from the same problems from independence until the 1990s & still periodically runs into them. Europe is still dealing with such issues in certain areas.

    Sth Sudan is a nation with a quite unique set of problems. Few nations can have been less well prepared for independence by its former rulers. There were only a few kilometres of paved road at independence & there are still whole swathes of the nation that are cut off except by air for substantial parts of the year. This lack of infrastructure & geographic mobility plays into ethnic divisions & makes it even harder to establish governing institutions that are broadly accepted.
    Well, I do hope they learn in the long run. It's a continent I can't get my head around. Latin America didn't seem this bad. Europe most certainly isn't. Africa probably trumps both in the shear amount of resources it is gifted with. Just to think the massive economic potential some of these countries have, if they get their act together.
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    Meanwhile;

    India shuts down South Sudan oilfields, evacuates employees


    NEW DELHI: India today evacuated all its oil employees from strife-torn South Sudan and shut down oilfields amid escalating violence in the world's youngest nation.

    All 11 executives working on 40,000 barrels per day Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A were airlifted, a top source with direct knowledge of the development said.

    "The evacuation happened in two batches. All the officials have arrived in India safely," he said.

    Before departure, the last job the Indian executives did was to shut down the oilfields yesterday.

    ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), had deputed 11 employees at Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A in Sudan.

    The company made all arrangements to evacuate its personnel as rebel forces loyal to deposed South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar captured Unity state which housed most of the fields it was operating.

    OVL owns 25 per cent stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project which produces about 40,000 barrels of oil per day and 24.125 per cent in Block 5A that produced 5,000 bpd.

    Other partners in the blocks - China's CNPC and Petronas of Malaysia too have decided to evacuate their officials from South Sudan, the source said.

    Fighting in South Sudan, which broke out on December 15, has already claimed as many as 500 lives, including Indian soldiers working as United Nations peacekeepers.

    The source said rebels so far have not captured any of OVL's oil wells but as a precaution all of them were shut before officials left the country.

    India shuts down South Sudan oilfields, evacuates employees - Economic Times
    ....

    UN approves more S Sudan peacekeepers


    The United Nations Security Council has approved plans to almost double the number of UN peacekeepers in South Sudan.

    The 15-member council unanimously authorised on Tuesday a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to boost the strength of the UN mission in South Sudan to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police - up from its previous mandate of 7,000 troops and 900 police.

    Earlier on Tuesday the top UN humanitarian chief in the country said thousands of South Sudanese have been killed in the week-long violence, giving the first clear indication of the scale of conflict engulfing the young nation.

    "Absolutely no doubt in my mind that we're into the thousands" of dead, Toby Lanzer told reporters on Tuesday.

    The official death toll has stood at 500 for days, although numbers are feared to be far higher, with some estimating at least a 1,000.

    Hilde Johnson, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan told Al Jazeera on Tuesday "terrible atrocities have been committed and perpetrators will have to be held accountable."

    She said the situation "will turn into a large scale humanitarian crisis if the violence does not stop."

    Mass graves found

    UN rights chief Navi Pillay said on Tuesday that a mass grave had been found in the rebel-held town of Bentiu, while there were "reportedly at least two other mass graves" in the capital Juba.

    The grim discoveries follow more than a week of escalating battles between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing his rival Riek Machar, a former vice president who was sacked in July.

    Machar's forces were driven from the town of Bor on Tuesday by the army, but still hold Bentiu, capital of the key oil-producing state of Unity.

    Lanzer said the situation in Bentiu remained "tense."

    "There are a lot of armed men, almost no civilians on the street," he said to AFP.

    "There are now well over 7,000 civilians within the UN base, where they've had to extend the perimeter."

    Fighting has spread to half of the nation's 10 states, with hundreds of thousands fleeing to the countryside, prompting warnings of an imminent humanitarian disaster.

    Machar ready to talk

    Machar said, for the first time, on Tuesday that he was ready to accept Kiir's offer of talks, suggesting neighbouring Ethiopia as a neutral location.

    "We are ready for talks," he told Radio France Internationale (RFI), adding that he had spoken earlier in the day to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ethiopia's Foreign Minster Tedros Adhanom.

    "We want democratic free and fair elections. We want Salva Kiir to call it a day," Machar said, listing his demands, which follow days of shuttle diplomacy by African nations and calls from Western powers for fighting to stop.

    Machar's promise of talks came shortly before the army stormed Bor town, which Information Minister Michael Makwei called a "gift of the government of South Sudan to the people".

    Bor's capture, apparently without major resistance by the rebels, relieves some 17,000 besieged civilians who fled into the overstretched UN peacekeeping compound for protection, severely stretching limited food and supplies.

    UN approves more S Sudan peacekeepers - Africa - Al Jazeera English
    So the guy initiates a coup and gets to negotiate with the government for power? Can't be that great of a precedent...
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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tronic View Post
    Well, I do hope they learn in the long run. It's a continent I can't get my head around. Latin America didn't seem this bad. Europe most certainly isn't. Africa probably trumps both in the shear amount of resources it is gifted with. Just to think the massive economic potential some of these countries have, if they get their act together.
    Latin America was basically a bunch of transplanted Europeans & despite that it took 170+ years for democracy and stable government to become anything like the norm. Still not universal. Parts of Europe are still finding their democratic feet. These are societies that are effectively tapping into millennia-old civilizations. A good proportion of sub-Saharan Africa was living in traditional tribal structures even a couple of generations ago. Nothing you. I or anyone here is accustomed to offers many reference points for making that sort of jump.

    So the guy initiates a coup and gets to negotiate with the government for power? Can't be that great of a precedent...
    Its a tricky situation. The most important thing right now is to stop it escalating. If the genie gets out of the bottle the place may descend into anarchy. If it does you can bet that Sudan will try to find a way to take advantage.

    Some background:

    JUBA, South Sudan: It will probably never be clear what triggered the December 15 firefight that broke out at a Juba military barracks and has now brought the world's newest country to the brink of a civil war.

    In the hours after the barracks shootout, fighting spread rapidly across the city - leaving hundreds of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.

    By the following afternoon, before the army could even launch its investigation, President Salva Kiir - in full military fatigues - appeared on a delayed state television broadcast to denounce the fighting as an attempted coup by his former deputy, Riek Machar, a gap-toothed mechanical engineer turned fighter in the Sudanese civil war. Hours later the police detained ten leading political figures.

    Machar, who slipped out of Juba and into hiding around the time the other politicians were being rounded up, fired back in an interview with a local newspaper two days later. He called the fighting "a misunderstanding" between soldiers and accused Kiir of using the clash as a cover to remove his rivals.

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    Whether coup or confusion, the incident has revealed just how fragile the coalitions that once held the country together really were.

    Independence has not come easy for South Sudan.

    After decades of war, a country the United States helped midwife into existence less than three years ago, has come to the brink of war with Sudan and watched its economy crumble after it shut down oil production early last year over a refusal to pay grossly inflated transit fees the government in Khartoum was charging to use its pipeline.

    Meanwhile, rebel groups have continued to crisscross vast swathes of the country, engaging soldiers and disrupting humanitarian efforts. But now South Sudan faces its most serious challenge: Unresolved political divisions have already caused hundreds of deaths and now threaten to split the country along ethnic lines.

    Four days later after the barracks attack, sporadic gunfire continues to disrupt Juba's nights and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in place. Traffic is returning slowly, though police checkpoints still dot the major roads. And tension remains, as many people who were displaced by the fighting refuse to return home. Still President Kiir repeats assurances that the situation is "under control."

    Meanwhile, one state capital, Bor, has fallen to a group of soldiers who defected from the army and officials are reporting fighting in some of the country's northern oil fields - near the border with Sudan.

    On December 19, the United Nations announced that a base sheltering civilians in Bor had been overrun. "There may have been some fatalities but [we] can't confirm who and how many at this stage," a spokesperson told the press.

    Now, the country's political leaders - under pressure from the international community - are trying desperately to prevent the country from splitting any further. They are stressing the political nature of the conflict, but in a country where the political often bleeds over into the ethnic, there is fear among citizens that what started as a shootout in a barracks could turn into widespread intercommunal conflict.

    The country's political fissures have been growing ever since President Kiir sacked his entire cabinet in July. Officials at the time said the cabinet was too large and not enough was getting done. Instead of continuing to pacify rivals, Kiir wanted to bring in technocrats, who would create work plans and deliver results.

    It was also clear that the move was something of a power play, with Kiir clearing out potential rivals, like Machar, and bringing his own people on board. If the new cabinet could deliver on Kiir's promises of better roads, schools and hospitals, it would solidify him as the only legitimate candidate in the presidential election scheduled for 2016.

    But the reorganisation also undid the complicated coalition of different ethnic groups the president had managed to string together with his first cabinet. That included Machar - a leader in the Nuer community, which is second only to Kiir's Dinka community in size.

    Machar and other critics remained diplomatic in the weeks after the reshuffle. Though the former deputy announced he intended to challenge Kiir for the presidency in 2016 elections, it appeared any immediate political crisis had passed with the swearing in of a new cabinet.

    But Andrea Mabior, a local political analyst, told Foreign Policy, "The power struggle was only beginning."

    Earlier this month, a group of disgruntled members of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party gathered for a press conference. In a cloak-and-dagger move, they kept the location and participants secret until hours before.

    The alliance ended up including Machar, former Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor - now among the 10 politicians who have been arrested - and Rebecca Nyandeng. Her presence was particularly notable, because she is the widow of John Garang, South Sudan's great martyr, who led southern rebels during the decades-long war with Sudan only to die in a helicopter crash months after signing a peace deal with Khartoum.

    Machar read the group's statement, in which he accused Kiir of exacerbating divisions within the ruling party, cutting himself off from SPLM members and, general "dictatorial tendencies" in his leadership.

    Nine days later, the fighting started.

    Juba saw heavy gunfire and sporadic shelling for more than 48 hours. The city was on almost complete lockdown until forces loyal to the government finally drove the rebel fighters out of the city.

    As Juba calmed down, fighting spread to restive Jonglei state, with reports that former rebel leader Peter Gadet had re-defected and that he and his troops had taken the state capital, Bor.

    Jok Madut Jok, who heads a local think tank called The Sudd Institute, says has no doubts that Machar's recent pronouncements led - at least indirectly - to the country's current situation.

    Machar's coalition "made this call for dialogue contingent on certain conditionalities," Jok said. "And failing that, they said this situation could escalate into violence. This is kind of their own prophecy becoming fact." Even if Machar did not lead a coup, Jok said, it is possible people loyal to him decided to follow through on his remarks.

    It was not a given that the violence in the wake of the barracks shooting would become ethnically motivated, and humanitarian and government leaders have tried desperately to prevent exactly that from happening.

    Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in South Sudan, called on leaders December 7 to "refrain from any action that fuels ethnic tensions and exacerbates violence." And in northern Unity state, government leaders took the radio to tell people that President Kiir had not ordered the targeted killing of any communities and there should be no reprisal attacks.

    Early evidence is starting to show that they had a right to be concerned.

    Twenty-three-year-old Tebisa Albino, lives with her family in one of the areas of Juba that has experienced heavy fighting. She said soldiers came through their area and asked people to speak certain phrases in languages associated with particular ethnic groups. Nuer who failed the test had their houses destroyed or worse.

    "The heavy vehicles are coming and are demolishing homes and killing people inside," she said. "And they are shooting people."

    Human Rights Watch has already found that Albino's was not an isolated incident, reporting, "South Sudanese soldiers fired indiscriminately in highly populated areas and targeted people for their ethnicity during recent fighting in Juba."

    Even loyal members of the SPLM acknowledge there might be some truth to the reports.

    Just as it is not clear how the fighting started, it's also unclear how it ends - especially if more people come to perceive it as an intercommunal fight. The international community is urging dialogue and President Kiir said he is receptive, though he admitted, "I cannot tell what the outcome of the talks will be."

    Jok said the key is to rein in the fighting as quickly as possible. But with every reported flare-up the forces loyal to the government get stretched even thinner. And thousands of people are not waiting to find out what happens if they snap.

    They do not want to stick around to see if South Sudan escapes from its latest challenge
    Read more: Why South Sudan descended into anarchy


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