A summary of the news from the Sudans and the DRC the past two weeks. Click on the title for the full article.
SUDAN & SOUTH SUDAN
South Sudan Failed to Save Hundreds of Citizens from Attacks Says UN Report
Last month, the United Nations (UN) issued a report finding the South Sudanese government negligent in protecting the 888 men, women, and children who died in association with violent unrest between the Nuer and Murle tribes from December 2011- February 2012. The findings include accounts from survivors as well as descriptions of devastated post-attack villages. By failing to either cease or even investigate the violence, South Sudan enabled victims to wage counterattacks, says the UN report. The report also contains recommendations that South Sudan pursue those responsible for the attacks and implement new guidelines to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.
One Thousand Sudanese Protesters Arrested, Some Held in “Ghost Prisons”
On June 30, the twenty-third anniversary of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir’s coup, Sudanese police cracked down on anti-Bashir protesters, arresting about 1000 and injuring hundreds. An unidentified Sudanese official maintained that some rioters were being held in “ghost houses” of an unknown location, alleging, “They don’t tell you where they are. You are not even allowed to ask.” Among those arrested was Sudanse AFP correspondent Talal Saad, who has since been released. The Organization for Defense of Rights and Freedoms has said that “a few hundred” people were injured during police’s attempts to disperse the protests, citing that injuries resulted from tear gas, rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and beatings. Meanwhile, protesters reportedly burned tires and launched stones at police officers while holding banners with messages reminiscent of the Arab Spring. Despite the protests, Bashir has downplayed the magnitude of the riots, claiming that he remains well-liked amongst the Sudanese people.
Canada Denounces Arrest of Sudanese Protesters
Late last month, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird expressed “concern” over Sudan’s response to anti-regime protesters, saying, “We condemn the arrests of bloggers, journalists, and political activists that have taken place over the last week and call for their immediate release . . . The government of Sudan must immediately halt all violence.”
Sudanese President Relieves Nine Aides
On June 25, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir called for the resignation of 9 advisors in association with a nationwide downsizing of executive powers in which all regional governments, except that of the non-complying South Darfur State, have dissolved. Sudan hopes to engineer economic “reform” with the downsizing, according to one of the aides who was relieved from his duties. Losing 75% of its oil revenue due to the secession of South Sudan last July, Sudan harbors a $2.4 billion US budget deficit. Khartoum has responded to the deficit by implementing austerity measures, which have generated significant civilian protests. According to some analysts, the additional relief of many government employees may be detrimental to the future of Bashir’s National Congress Party, whose survival has heavily relied on its network of political support.
Rwanda Denies Supporting Congolese Rebels
On June 25, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo denied accusations of her country’s involvement in aiding Congolese rebels, alleging that the DRC is casting Rwanda as “a scapegoat” for its own internal violence. The accusations had arisen when Reuters published information from a leaked United Nations report that was eventually published on July 2. Mushikiwabo likened eleven self-identified Congolese defectors’ claims of having been recruited by the Rwandan government to propaganda used by the Congolese government “just before the genocide in 1994.”
UN Peacekeeper Killed as Rebels Take Town on Ugandan Border
A United Nations (UN) peacekeeper of Indian origin was killed by an exploding shell Thursday night by defected Congolese M29 rebels waging an attack to gain occupation of the town on Bunagana, located on the Ugandan border. Earlier this week, the defectors gained control of the village of Jambo, thus gaining access to Bunagana. M29 rebel spokesman Vianney Kazarama announced that his force does “not plan to stay” and that they are “only asking the government of Kinshasa to respond to [their] demands, which are known by all.” Captain Peter Mugisa of the Congolese army, which has thus far been able to contain the rebels, announced Friday that approximately 600 Congolese soldiers were seeking refuge in Uganda in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the rebels. In response to the growing conflict, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called for an “immediate end to all violence by armed groups.”
Check out BBC’s audio debate on South Sudan’s progress in its first year of existence: “South Sudan: Has independence met expectations?”
Mother Jones has a great photo essay on South Sudan’s ongoing struggle with war and corruption as it celebrates its 1st anniversary.