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The White House declares South Sudan’s civil war a ‘national security threat’

Washington, DC, March 31, 2015 (SSNA) -- The United States’ President, Barack Obama, on Tuesday signed an Executive Order 13664, saying South Sudan’s raging civil war poses a direct threat to US’s national security and foreign policy. Obama decided to extend US’s national emergency of April 2014 beyond April 2015 so that the US can deal with South Sudan’s mounting problems.

The order comes more than fifteen months after fighting broke out in Mid-December of 2013.

In the document, Obama ordered US national emergency to deal with threat poses by the ongoing civil war in South Sudan. The US leader also stressed that the war in South Sudan has created instability for the surrounding region including widespread atrocities and human rights related issues.  

“I declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the situation in and in relation to South Sudan, which has been marked by activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan and the surrounding region, including widespread violence and atrocities, human rights abuses, recruitment and use of child soldiers, attacks on peacekeepers, and obstruction of humanitarian operations,” the order reads in part.

The Executive Order, which will be published in the US’s Federal Register and transmits to the American Congress, explicitly labels South Sudan’s armed conflict as a threat to the US interests.

“The situation in and in relation to South Sudan continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.  For this reason, the national emergency declared on April 3, 2014, to deal with that threat must continue in effect beyond April 3, 2015,” the document added.

The US presidential order appears to be indicating that the Obama administration is closer to take action. However, it is not clear what actions Obama will take to restore peace in the war-wracked nation.

On March 5, IGAD-led peace talks between South Sudan’s warring factions collapsed in Ethiopia after President Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar failed to agree on power sharing, security arrangements, among others.

On Tuesday, South Sudanese information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth announced that Juba does not want Troika countries (US, UK, and Norway) to be part of future South Sudan’s peace negotiations. But Minister Lueth failed to provide any reason as to why his government wants Troika out of the talks.

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.

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