South Sudan: Innocent victims of the civil war

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The conflict in South Sudan has taken a heavy toll on civilians since it began 15 months ago. In Leer, Unity state, the situation is relatively calm at present, but caches of unexploded ordnance left behind by armed groups are still claiming innocent victims. Fourteen-year-old Kume was visiting relatives when an ammunition container exploded without warning.

Kume Saadi Kuony was on a visit to relatives, and was seeking some shade from South Sudan’s scorching sun, when disaster struck. Kume had no idea that the container sheltering him from the midday heat in the village of Gayiel, near Thar Jaat in Unity state, was full of unexploded ordnance left behind following heavy fighting in the area last year. Without warning, the container exploded, injuring Kume and killing the seven men with him. Seriously wounded, Kume was brought by local villagers to the MSF-managed hospital in Leer, 40 km away.

“Once again we are confronted with the tragedy of conflict, the senseless suffering of civilians”, said Paul Critchley, MSF Head of Mission in South Sudan.

The exploding ammunition had thrown up dirt, soil and grass, which had buried themselves in the boy’s body, leaving him with multiple lacerations. “Kume had wounds all over his body, from his shoulders down to his feet, but mostly on his legs,” says Dr Fouad Dahir, MSF deputy medical coordinator. “When he arrived on 19 March we disinfected, dressed and bandaged the wounds and stabilised the boy.”

The exact sequence of events that set off the explosion is hard to establish, since Kume himself is still too weak to talk about the incident and all of his companions are dead. But it seems likely that local people set fire to the grass around the container – a traditional method of clearing land in preparation for farming. The container was propped up on bricks, but once flames had spread to the grass underneath, the ammunition inside it could have overheated and detonated. This was despite warnings on local radio about the potential dangers of burning grass around the container, according to Kume’s father, Yoak Saadi.

“It is impossible to say just how much unexploded ordnance there could still be in this area,” says Aleem Shah, MSF project coordinator in Leer. “But last year there was a lot of fighting, so there could be much more.”

The violence has taken a heavy toll on civilians, who at times have been directly targeted by the fighting. Right now the situation in Leer is relatively calm, but people are still suffering the after-effects of the fighting and looting in February 2014, during which time the MSF hospital in the town was extensively pillaged and damaged by fighters. With no other medical care available, and with food in increasingly short supply, MSF teams are seeing more and more patients.

“We are seeing a lot of patients every day in the hospital, and many of them walk miles to reach us in Leer, as there is no other healthcare available in the area,” says Shah. “There is also moderate and severe malnutrition, especially among children, and with food stocks running low, we are concerned that this may get worse.”

Two days after being brought in to Leer hospital, Kume is able to sit up in bed and say a few words. His father is happy with the care is son is receiving at the hospital, but is worried about what will happen to him. “The boy was sitting up and talking a little this morning,” says Saadi. “But I am concerned about the future, as I don’t have a job to provide for him and his five brothers and sisters.”

“This tragedy shows the reality of what is happening in South Sudan,” says Florian Westphal, general director of MSF Germany, who was visiting Leer when Kume was admitted to the hospital. “This boy was lucky, because there was a car to transport him 40 km to an equipped hospital. More often than not, civilians have to walk for hours or even days to reach a hospital or clinic – if there are any at all. It’s shocking to realise that this is partly the fault of the warring parties, who have deliberately looted and destroyed healthcare facilities, as happened in Leer last year.”

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SPLA-IO briefly shell Bentiu in Unity State

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Opposition forces in South Sudan’s Unity State launched mortar shells at the state capital today, according to government sources.

SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said the shelling was coming from the southeast of Bentiu. “There are no injuries yet as a result of this shelling. There are no casualties.”

He noted, “This is not an attack by ground forces – these are artillery attacks with mortars on the areas inside Bentiu. But the forces of SPLA are controlling Bentiu city and the area around it.”

https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/spla-io-briefly-shell-bentiu-unity-state

Supreme Court demands clarification over elections schedule

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Juba 22nd March, 2015. On 20th March was the day South Sudan Supreme Court of law making ruling on the court case brought forwards by 18 political parties against the National Elections Commission over the proposed South Sudan National Elections dated 30th June, 2015.

The Supreme Court has demanded clarifications from the election commission to clarify whether the decision by the Council of Ministers to postpone the elections has been cancelled.

The Supreme Court also demanded clarification from the group of 18 political parties to clarify if they are aware that the Political Parties Council has commenced its work.

“If so, have they submitted their Constitutions to the council of the Political Parties’ Council as required by the provision of section 6(1) of the political parties Act 2012, for registration or re-registration in the Republic of South Sudan?”

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization treated the stand of the supreme as convincing and urge the supreme to demonstrate legal professionalism with any fear or favor expect making the law functional in handling this mater of the disputed national elections.

This matter is so risk that if it is not handle well it may act as flash back point for more violence.

Mr. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO said it is a high time for the Supreme Court to justify to the South Sudanese and the world the spirit of judiciary independence.

It is right moment for testing the Supreme Court over the independence of the judiciary and its legal professionalism and neutrality in addressing national political disputed issues that has direct link with enhancement of democratic principles and values in the country.

so far  CEPO felt the Supreme Court is handling the case well and demonstrated some credibility of independence.

Demanding for clarification for some facts is a remarkable decision that will make the ruling of the court as genuine and credible.

The greatest confusion is the council of ministers under the leadership of the president decided to cancel the national elections per the proposed schedule of 30th June, 2015 but the national elections commission is silent on that decision.

It is within the powers of the national elections commission to postpone the elections per National Election Act, 2012 “Article 14(J) postpone any electoral procedure or event for any election or referendum when warranted by the situation in accordance with provisions of this Act and determine new dates for carrying out such events;”

Further their silence is challenging the provision of the national elections act, 2012 which stated that “Article 15 (2) Upon announcement of the date of elections by the Commission, the President shall, within three months to the elections date, dissolve the National Legislature, State  Legislative Assemblies, the national government, and state governments” per this provision the government if the national elections commission believe yet elections will commerce than on the 30th of march, 2015 the president should dissolve the government. This is one week to do so. Mr. Yakani stressed.

CEPO is urge the Supreme Court to handle this matter timely as they demonstrate maturity in the first court hearings

EAC leaders urge faster integration

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East African Heads of State have commended achievements made under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) initiative and advocated for faster integration of the region to bring about prosperity.

Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan and Burundi’s Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri as well as Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, joined President Paul Kagame in Kigali yesterday for the 9th NCIP summit.

Less than two years since the northern corridor meetings began, fourteen projects including infrastructure, energy, transport, ICT and trade have been launched.

Recent achievements of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects include the improved free movement of people and labour, the use of Identity Cards as travel documents, the establishment of One Network Area, the one visa for tourists coming to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and the waiver of work permits for EAC citizens in the northern corridor.

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2015-03-08/186683/

IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton Visits DRC To Discuss Economic Challenges

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Mr. David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during March 5–7, 2015, and issued the following statement at the conclusion of the visit:

“I would like to thank Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon for his hospitality and our fruitful discussions during my visit. I also had the honor to meet Minister of Finance Henri Yav Mulang, Governor of the Central Bank Deogratias Mutombo Mwana Nyembo, members of parliament, and representatives of business and civil society.

“I was also pleased to have opportunities for engagement outside the official sector, including discussions with faculty and students at the Protestant University in Congo, a visit to the Kimbondo Orphanage, which provides shelter and health care to orphans and abandoned children, and where we were able to make a donation, and to talk to students at the Gombe public school. The energy, commitment and enthusiasm of the people I met was impressive.

“In my discussions with the authorities, we covered many important topics, including the challenges of maintaining economic and financial stability in a difficult domestic and global environment, how to diversify the economy, the need to further strengthen governance, as well as the pursuit of policies to create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality. We discussed the recent decline in copper prices and the challenges it poses for the DRC economy. I was impressed by the progress made over the last five years in bringing about economic stability and robust growth, which resulted in the DRC recording the third fastest growth rate in the world in 2014. I was also encouraged by the authorities’ intention to build on this record and to transform the DRC into a more inclusive economy.

“I am pleased with our ongoing dialogue, in particular through our annual consultations and sustained program of technical assistance (TA), and look forward to finding ways to further develop this relationship. However, the policy agenda to take forward is sizable as the DRC still faces many challenges in achieving broad-based and more inclusive growth. These include: mobilizing domestic revenues to create fiscal space, including allowing adequate investment in social sectors, addressing the infrastructure gap to lay the foundation for future growth, and developing the financial sector so that it can fully contribute to the financing of development in the DRC. It is also important that the government provides new impetus to some stalled structural reforms aimed at strengthening the financial sector (central bank and commercial bank laws), improving the business climate through enforcing the rule of law, and strengthening natural resource management through greater transparency and better governance.

“The IMF remains committed to assisting the DRC government to address these challenges and meet its development goals.”

Secretary Kerry on South Sudan Negotiations

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Press Statement

Photo from WikipediaJohn Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

March 2, 2015

The warring parties in South Sudan must seize the current and final round of negotiations to deliver a sustainable peace.

We are well past the point where enough is enough. Leaders must put the interests of their people above their own. The violence must end.

A negotiated conclusion to this conflict is required now. Legitimacy is not a presumed right of any government. It is conferred by the people, and it is sustained only by demonstrating leadership to protect and serve all citizens—responsibilities the government has neglected.

The opposition has likewise failed to choose peace or make the hard choices required of leaders.

Both President Kiir and Riek Machar have promised time and again that they would negotiate a transitional government under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) process, but have failed to make the compromises needed.

The world is watching to see what the leaders of South Sudan will do. IGAD has outlined the way forward to a transitional government and necessary reforms, but the two sides continue to obfuscate and delay.

The parties have until March 5 to secure an agreement that is inclusive, that initiates a broad range of transitional reforms and that ensures those responsible for human rights abuses are held to account.

The United States will work with our international partners, including in the region, the UN Security Council, and beyond, to take further concerted action against those who do not demonstrate a willingness to make the difficult decisions needed for peace.

Leaders can choose to do the hard work of implementing peace—or they can all too easily drift back into the nightmare of war. The choice is clear, and for the sake of all the people of South Sudan, I urge them to choose peace.

Google is teaming up w/ carriers to offer its own wireless service in the coming months

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During an interview at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona today, Google’s Android chief Sundar Pichai made a few interesting announcements, including confirming the company will launch its own wireless service as an MVNO in the coming months.

The news follows several reports in recent months claiming Google was planning to launch its own wireless network. Back in January, we discussed why a Google MNVO is exactly what the US wireless industry needs.

Google becoming an MVNO, or a mobile virtual network operator, would mean it will likely team up with one of the other carriers to run its own wireless service using one or more networks. Although Google does have several of its own projects for delivering internet access, such as its Project Loon initiative, Pichai confirmed Google is working with other carriers on the roll out of its wireless service. Previous reports suggested that Google’s wireless service would be capable of automatically switching between T-Mobile and Sprint connectivity based on which network offered the best service at any given location.

Pichai didn’t provide many other details, but he did hint that the project would at least initially launch on the scale of its Nexus devices, which could be a hint that the service might first be paired with its own Android devices.

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