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
On October 4, the United Nations in South Sudan (UNMISS) expressed its support for Amnesty International’s allegations of human rights abuses against South Sudan’s army (SPLA). Amnesty International’s report, released a day earlier, accuses SPLA soldiers and police forces of “acts of torture and abuse committed against civilians, including children as young as 18 months old” during the Operation Restore Peace campaign, a federal effort initiated in March to recover automatic weapons from South Sudan’s population. Despite Amnesty International and UNMISS’s calls for intervention, Amnesty’s report has been rejected by South Sudanese officials; Lt. Kuo Deim Kuol of the SPLA has called the findings “not accurate.”
On Sunday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir called for all borders with South Sudan to be reopened; the ruling comes despite the neighbours’ ongoing refusal to agree upon rights to the Abyei border region since South Sudan’s secession in July 2011. Under much pressure by the Security Council and African Union, the Sudans have made progress on various issues, including oil compensation and the establishing of a demilitarized zone. Violence, however, ensues in both countries; an ambush by unidentified attackers in Darfur last week four peacekeepers dead and eight injured.
On Tuesday, Sudanese military spokesman Col. Sawarmy Kahlid accused the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) of shelling in the South Kordorfan state, leaving 5 women dead and 20 wounded. The rebels deny the allegations and reports of causalities, maintaining that their efforts were defensive responses to shelling waged by military forces. South Kordofan state governor Ahmed Haroun accused Sudan Sudan’s government of “being indirectly responsible” for the violence; South Sudan has repeatedly denied Sudan’s continued allegations that it supports SPLM-N.
The M23 rebel group, which recently gained control of the small town of Nyamilima, expressed plans to seize the Ugandan border town of Ishasha last week, maintaining that it has intentions of protecting the town’s population from the presently ruling Mai Mai and FDLR rebel groups. In response, members of the Ishasha population, including police and local authorities, have reportedly started fleeing into Uganda to avoid anticipated clashes between the M23 and Mai Mai forces. The M23 group also confirmed interests in taking the city of Goma, which has recently endured a series of murders and other violence; according to an M23 spokesman, the group will take the city if the government “cannot secure its population.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed plans to speak out for Congolese victims of rape at this weekend’s summit of la Francophonie in Kinshasa. Despite his concerns, Harper has neglected to boycott the event, however, despite having voiced intentions of snubbing the upcoming Commonwealth conference unless the host—Sri Lanka—makes headway on its own human rights violations.