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South Sudan’s rebels shot down a helicopter gunship, threaten to close down a trade route

Addis Ababa, July 5, 2015 (SSNA) -- A Spokesperson for South Sudanese rebels on Sunday said rebel forces under the command of South Sudan’s Former Vice President, Dr.Riek Machar, downed a government’s helicopter gunship after a failed attempt by Juba and its foreign allies to use airpower to regain control of Upper Nile State’s capital, Malakal.

The claim comes a few days after the SPLA-IO said it has shot down an alleged Ugandan helicopter gunship.

James Gatdet Dak, the Spokesman for the rebels late Sunday announced the downing of the helicopter, saying forces of the SPLA-IO under the overall command of Major General Johnson Olony carried out the operation.

“SPLM SPLM/SPLA forces under the overall command of Major General Johnson Olony shot down another helicopter gunship on Sunday morning at Kodok in Fashoda (Upper Nile) state. This came after a failed dawn attempt by government forces to match towards Malakal to recapture the state capital from our forces. The gunship was on mission attacking our forces in the area when it met its fate,” Gatdet said in a statement.

The SPLM/A-IO Spokesman also disclosed that a separate military confrontation between government and rebel forces occurred in Nimule, a South Sudanese town bordering Uganda.

Gatdet said anti-government forces are capable to do maximum damage against government interests and threatened to close down a vital trade route linking Juba to Kampala.

“SPLM/SPLA forces will be forced to close the trade route between Uganda and South Sudan at the Nimule border unless Salva Kiir’s government accepts peace and signs an agreement with the Movement,” he asserted.

The rebel Spokesperson further claimed that fighting in Nimule happened after SPLA-IO destroyed government war logistics in an area of Nimule.

Peace Ambassador condemns atrocities committed by Government Forces in Unity State

For immediate release
Thursday, July 02, 2015

July 2, 2015 (SSNA) -- I’m very disturbed to hear the atrocities committed by the Government’s Forces on civilians in Unity State. I strongly condemn the brutal killing of mothers and sisters. Wherever on the Earth, killing a woman has no different of killing a Nation.

I doubt that the very soldiers who abducted, raped and burned the women had neither raped nor burned their wives. This is dangerous and the warring factions’ leaders must critically look into it. I strongly appeal to the leaders to convince their forces because the more they continue raping and burning the civilians, the highest the chances the leaders will one day face the Court after this senseless war.

These are the consequences of war; they always resulted on innocents’ people. The brutal killing of innocent civilians in Unity State is strongly a violation of Human Rights.

In this senseless war, I believe whoever win the battle will still need civilians. 

I don’t see the benefit of abducting, raping and burning or brutally killing a woman as a strong signal of victory, but I do see it as a weakness or an authoritarian leadership to scare the citizens. Citizens must be respected for they are the cornerstones of leadership for every leader. They are there for you and me to bring us onto power. Whoever targets them must be viewed not as a strong commander, but as cruel and weak commander.

I strongly urge the warring factions to refrain from such acts. The continuation of such acts will directly lead the civilians to withdraw trust from either party.

Once again, I urge the Opposition to practically avoid the culture of revenge or any retaliation. War will never and ever end this conflict but instead will escalate the suffering of civilians if it’s not properly managed through peaceful mean.

I directly urge the two principals to attentively convince their Generals to respect the civil populations, their properties and entire vicinity.

Concerning the recent sanction on six commanders, I narrowly welcome the move but I wish the UN Security Council would have thoroughly studied the sanction before it’s imposed on commanders strategically. Commanders are only commanding, but they are under command of Commander - In – Chief. I believe that imposing sanction on Military Commanders who rarely move nowhere on the globe will contribute nothing to resolve the crisis in South Sudan. 

It makes sense not to sanction the principals because we need them to negotiate on the table, but what if the two failed to reach an amicable solution? Of course, the more the UN Security Council gives more chances for two principals to negotiate on the table with no solution, the more the innocents’ women will be abducted, raped and burned to death.

I strongly urge the UNSC to possibly study the sanction with full strategy before they imposed on Field Commanders.

Finally, I urge the Youth from all parts of South Sudan to work for peace and attempt a bold step of bringing peace through peaceful advocacy. It’s just a matter of time…a Dinka man and a Nuer man will soon share a plate of Pizza on one table.

Pray for women not to be abducted, raped and burned!
Pray for South Sudan!!
Pray for change!!
Peace Ambassador Gatwech Koak Nyuon
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Advocacy group accuses Kampala and Khartoum of ‘undermining’ South Sudan peace talks

Washington, DC, June 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- A report released on Wednesday by the Washington, D.C.-based Enough Project accusedSudan and Uganda of undermining South Sudan’s peace negotiations in Ethiopia.

The report comes as new peace talks between South Sudanese rivals resume in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

"Willingness to take action on South Sudan has been undermined by a web of political and economic relationships linking regional elites' interests to those of South Sudanese politicians,” the report reads in part.

The report also said other unnamed East African nations of having economic interests in the young country and that efforts to find a peaceful solution to the raging civil war in the violence-stricken nation are difficult.

"Political and economic interests linking elites across Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan have individually and collectively undermined peace talks and the region's will to enforce sanctions that would disrupt access to funds that sustain war," the report added.

The Enough Project’s report also stated that regional economic interests make peace negotiations even more difficulty for the United Nations and individuals countries to impose effective sanctions.

The report is the first of its kind by an international advocacy agency to accuse Kampala and Khartoum of undermining South Sudan’s peace talks.

IGAD-mediated peace talks collapsed in early March after South Sudan’s warring factions failed to agree on security arrangements and power-sharing deal.

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