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Sunday, Mar 29th, 2015

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South Sudan’s rebels capture Ayod, warn of ‘serious military confrontations’

Addis Ababa, March 27, 2015 (SSNA) -- Spokesman for the armed opposition of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) Colonel Lony T. Ngundeng has released a statement on Friday, saying rebel forces and Local Defense Force (LDF) have launched a joint operation against government soldiers and recaptured Ayod county of Jonglei State. The rebel Spokesperson also warns that the whole Upper Nile region could soon fall under the SPLA-IO.

Lony said the operation is a direct response to what he calls "repeated government assaults" on rebel positions.

Heavy fighting between South Sudan’s warring forces has been raging since early this week with both sides accusing each other of attack.

The hostility which began this Tuesday ended in the early hours of Friday, with the SPLA-IO saying its armed forces managed to deliver a ‘crushing blow’ to government troops.

Ayod had already changed hands several times since the fighting broke out.

Rebels said the fall of Ayod occurred in the early hours of Friday and that combined forces of the SPLA-IO and LDF participated in the operation.

“This morning the SPLA forces in a joint operation with Local Defense Force or (LDF) manage to flash out the government forces in their position in Ayot, jonglei state,” a statement extended to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) reads in part.

In the statement, the rebel military Spokesman accused Juba and its allies, saying fighting broke out on Tuesday after government’s soldiers launched surprise attacks on rebel outposts in and around Ayod County.

“The fighting had been on for the last three days since on Tuesday when government troops came out from their trenches to advance to our different locations,” the statement added.

The rebels also said the SPLA-IO and LDF have inflicted heavy losses on Juba’s troops, captured more ammunition, two tanks, military hardware, and killed 154 government soldiers.

The SPLA-IO has clarified that civilians who live in areas under rebel control have created the Local Defense Force or (LDF) to protect themselves from Juba and its foreign allies.

The Acting military spokesman further disclosed that attempts by government rescue helicopters were not possible because the SPLA-IO and LDF forces use sophisticated firepower to deny them any landing in and around Ayod.

South Sudan’s economy faces collapse as oil output plummets

Juba, March 22, 2015 (SSNA) -- The United Nations (UN) has warned that the overall economy of the Republic of South Sudan is at its final stage of collapse as the new country began printing money since December of last year.

UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, on Tuesday warned that the economy could get worse as the young nation goes on printing rampage—printing money in an attempt to try to “meet a budget shortfall.” Lanzer also revealed that South Sudan’s central bank started printing money late last year.

“Since December South Sudan's government has resorted to the old trick of printing money,” Lanzer told reporters at a news conference in Juba.

"Printing money when there is nothing to back the value of that currency usually leads to hyperinflation,” he warned.

Many experts agreed that the continuous delay of salaries of civil servants and some central government employees is also a result of a vanishing economy.

South Sudan depends heavily on oil revenues and the price of crude oil has fallen, forcing many investors to withdraw their financial backings for fear of an economic collapse amid raging civil war.

Early last year, government officials stormed out of a meeting in Juba after oil investors, mostly Chinese and Malaysian companies refused to lend huge amount of money to Juba.

However, in May 2014, Juba was able to borrow $200 million from an unnamed Chinese oil company. In the same month, South Sudan began a process of repayments delay on nearly all domestic loans, raising many questions and put the young nation’s economy capability into question.

In February, an official with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that oil export has been declining and that Juba is anxious about both the decline of oil production and current market price. The official further disclosed that March delivery is 4.6 million barrels of Dar Blend crude oil, down two hundred thousand barrels (just over 4%), compared to last month delivery of 4.8 million barrels.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir at a political rally on Wednesday admitted that his nation economy faces serious problems.

South Sudan’s Warring Factions Disagree on a Deal, Peace Talks Suspended

Addis Ababa, March 6, 2015 (SSNA) -- Rival factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party have failed to reach a peace deal after many days of intense negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

In a statement released on Friday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, disclosed that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar have failed to seal a deal that could bring the much-needed peace to the war-torn young nation.

“The talks did not produce the necessary breakthrough,” Desalegn said in the statement.

The Ethiopian leader has also expressed his disappointment over South Sudan main rivals’ inability to find a peaceful solution to the raging civil war.

“The consequences of inaction are the continued suffering of you, the people of South Sudan, and the prolonging of a senseless war in your country. This is unacceptable, both morally and politically,” he added.

Desalegn hopes that peace negotiations between South Sudanese rivals will resume in the near future.

Meanwhile, an African Union (AU) diplomatic source who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media revealed to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that South Sudan’s peace talks have basically been suspended and that the only thing that is not known to the public at the moment is IGAD public admission of its failure.

"There are simply enormous problems between both sides. I don’t think the two leaders of South Sudan [Kiir and Machar] will sign any agreement that IGAD and the international community would want them to sign. They seem to be looking for a deal that fit their own interests," the source said.

“I can tell you that IGAD has already suspended the negotiations and asked the African Union (AU) to either intervene or come up with an idea,” he revealed.

Fighting broke out in Mid-December 2013 between different units of presidential guards after months of political chaos among senior leaders of the SPLM.

President Kiir has accused Dr. Machar of planning a coup. Machar denied the accusation and said the coup allegation is deliberate act by Kiir in an attempt to try to purge his political rivals.

At least two million South Sudanese have fled their homes and tens of thousands of people have been killed.

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