‘White rebel’ label for journalist killed in South Sudan angers US

The United States embassy in Juba has condemned the recent statement by South Sudan’s Information minister describing its journalist killed in war front years ago as a ‘white rebel’.

Christopher Allen, a US-British journalist, was killed in a crossfire in Kaya Central Equatoria State in August 2017 during clashes between South Sudan’s Defence Forces and Sudan People Liberation Army-In Opposition.

Information Minister Michael Makuei’s statement five years ago caused controversy after he described the journalist as a ‘white rebel’.

And at an event last week, Makuei reiterated his previous statement, claiming that the late Allen was in the country illegally.

Calls for probe

His comment comes after the US Embassy issued repeated calls to the coalition government to investigate and hold to account Allen’s killers.

“This man [Allen] had entered the country illegally in the first place, and that’s why I declared in a statement that we have killed a white rebel, because he was killed on the side of the rebels.

“So, he was a rebel. Now, can we be held answerable or accountable for the death of such a journalist? This is funny; and we are being asked to investigate. Whom do we investigate now?” asked Makuei.

Reacting to Makuei’s statement, the US embassy described Makuei’s statement as reckless.

“The remarks would be irresponsible and reprehensible at any time but are all the more so as they were made on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

“The US embassy is seeking clarification as to whether these comments represent the position of the government of South Sudan,” said the embassy.

The diplomatic mission renewed its calls to the coalition government to conduct a credible inquiry into Mr Allen’s death and to share its findings with the journalist’s family.

Minister Makuei is among individuals sanctioned in 2017 by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan. He was reportedly instrumental to President Salva Kiir’s initial unwillingness to sign a peace agreement in August 2015. 

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The United States embassy in Juba has condemned the recent statement by South Sudan’s Information minister describing its journalist killed in war front years ago as a ‘white rebel’. Christopher […]

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South Sudan’s oil sector pulls in more deals

South Sudan’s oil and related sectors are still attracting enthusiasts in spite of the publicised problems, including on revenue sharing.

Two weeks after the South Sudan Oil and Power Conference (SSOP) in Juba, firms have been publicising their deals from the forum meant to drive business and investment in the country’s oil production.

Several agreements on financing, oil exploration and production, oil refinery and infrastructural development were inked, according to a prospectus from the petroleum ministry.

In one of the deals the South African Nile Orange Company was offered the Jonglei State oil.

“We believe the project with Strategic Fuel Fund will now move forward as we anticipated for a very long time. We agreed that a team of technical personnel will visit Jonglei State to talk to the people on the ground,” said Petroleum Minister Puot Kang.

However, details of this and other agreements were not made public.

More deals

South Sudan’s Kush Bank signed a deal worth $75 million with AIS Capital Advisors for power distribution and management.

Leonard Mathu, managing director of AIS Capital Advisors, said the agreement will create “a domestic value chain that enables us to control costs, deliver power at stable rates, and without interruption.”

South Sudan is the major oil producer in the East African region but its near-total dependency on the oil has made the resource a curse. Due to fees and obligations owed to oil firms, South Sudan’s 170,000 per barrel production per day means it only earns value worth 50,000 barrels of oil per day, with the rest paying up advance payments or contractual obligations.

Yet critics also charge the revenue that arrives is also stolen. In August, President Salva Kiir fired Central Bank Governor Moses Makur Deng and Finance Minister Agak Acuil over empty coffers.

The South Sudan Oil and Power Conference, in its fifth year, welcomed a larger audience of global and South Sudanese energy professionals and leaders, taking advantage of easier post-pandemic travel.

This year’s event emphasised the important role that energy companies play in ensuring growth of the economy, and personal and professional growth of citizens.

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South Sudan’s oil and related sectors are still attracting enthusiasts in spite of the publicised problems, including on revenue sharing. Two weeks after the South Sudan Oil and Power Conference […]

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Sentry links banks, firms and senior officials to Sudan Sudan plunder

US advocacy group The Sentry is alleging $1 billion was embezzled in deals involving senior government officials, foreign companies and international banks in South Sudan.

In the investigation titled Cash Grab: How a Billion-Dollar Scam Credit Robbed South Sudan of Fuel, Food and Medicine, The Sentry places the theft at the door of a 2012 failed letter of credit programme.

“Between 2012 and 2015, the government of South Sudan received a credit line of nearly $1 billion from Qatar National Bank (QNB) and CfC Stanbic Bank in Kenya to support efforts to import much-needed food, fuel and medicine to the war-torn and newly independent country.

“The credit line issued in US dollars in the form of letters of credit was intended to help local traders pay for these imports, considering the extreme shortage of hard currency and the weakness of the new local pound,” said The Sentry.

The Sentry added, “the government was supposed to allocate the LCs to traders, who could exchange South Sudanese pounds (SSP) at the then-official exchange rate of 3.16 SSP per dollar. Traders would then use the LCs essentially a guarantee from the bank to pay the exporter upon confirmation of delivery of the goods”.

Stanbic Bank (Kenya) acknowledged that its South Sudan unit made available a $200 million letter of credit program to South Sudan between 2012 and 2015 which was in line with the objectives of the government of South Sudan to support local businesses’ participation in the importation of certain essential goods.

In an emailed response to The EastAfrican, the lender says it transacted with its already existing clients who had undergone the normal know-your-customer processes and due diligence.

“These processes returned satisfactory outcomes,” said Stanbic bank, On whether Stanbic Bank asked for proof of delivery of goods, the lender said the requirement under the letters of credit is to examine the transactional documents requested to ensure that they are compliant with the terms and conditions of the letters of credit.

“The documents were sufficient and compliant, hence the payments were released,” said Stanbic bank, which is a member of the Standard Bank of South Africa.

However, according to the Sentry, its investigation into the LCs programme found that multimillion-dollar contracts were awarded to inexperienced middlemen and foreign-run companies that only existed on paper.

“It appears that millions of dollars’ worth of essential pharmaceuticals, fuel, and food were not delivered. The government failed to repay the borrowed money and entered arbitration proceedings initiated by QNB at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes,” The Sentry added.

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US advocacy group The Sentry is alleging $1 billion was embezzled in deals involving senior government officials, foreign companies and international banks in South Sudan. In the investigation titled Cash Grab: […]

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Violence threatens fragile South Sudan peace

The UN says there is a need to keep an eye on South Sudan, where fragile peace continues to be threatened by conflict.

On Wednesday, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) pointed out inter-communal conflict for repeated cycles of violence that may erode gains towards peace across the country.

Nicolas Haysom, the special representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, said fighting between rival factions in Upper Nile and parts of Jonglei States has caused massive displacement of civilians seeking refuge in the UN bases in Malakal town, the capital of Upper Nile State.

“The fighting between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces and the Kitgwang and Agwelek factions has displaced thousands of people within Upper Nile, to Jonglei, Unity states, and parts of Sudan,” Mr Haysom told journalists in Juba.

He said more than 14,000 have been displaced and sought refuge at the Malakal Protection of Civilians site.

Mr Haysom said that the mission is working with state authorities and humanitarian agencies to support sustainable solutions in Malakal to mitigate overcrowding, and outbreaks of disease, as well as maintain peace within the community living within the UN Protection of Civilians site.

In recent days, the Twic/Ngok Dinka conflict has created a new wave of refugees in Abyei, Warrap, and Northern Bahr El Ghazal.

Escalated fighting

Earlier, UN-appointed human rights experts sounded the alarm on the likelihood of violence escalating.

Yasmin Sooka, the chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, asked the international community to pay more attention to the violence proliferating at a local level all over South Sudan.

Ms Sooka said donors and member states must continue to monitor the peace agreement and security sector reform and ensure constitutional legislation is pushed through before elections.

“Without these steps, we are likely to see millions more South Sudanese displaced or crossing borders, creating havoc for neighbouring countries and aid agencies,” she said in a statement issued in Juba.

The UN experts said the parties to the 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement for South Sudan signed onto a further two-year extension of the transitional governance arrangements, postponing elections until late 2024.

The Peace Agreement included a national consultation process on establishing three bodies. Consultations were held in mid-2022, but excluded millions of refugees.

The UN experts said after four years, none of the three proposed transitional justice bodies have come into being — the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing; the Hybrid Court; or the Compensation and Reparation Authority.

Andrew Clapham, a member of the team, said survivors in South Sudan, told them that criminal accountability is the only way to guarantee their safety and peace in the country.

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The UN says there is a need to keep an eye on South Sudan, where fragile peace continues to be threatened by conflict. On Wednesday, the UN Mission in South […]

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South Sudan, Djibouti plan to lay fiber optic to Juba

South Sudan and Djibouti have signed an agreement to lay fibre optic cable from Djibouti through Ethiopia to the capital Juba.

The Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services said the government and Djibouti officials would form a technical team to deliberate on the project, after they signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday.

The deal was inked by the Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth and senior officials from Djibouti.

Read: Internet down in South Sudan due to ‘technical problem’: minister

South Sudan said it is also working closely with the World Bank to connect the country with another fibre optic cable from Kenya. The deal was signed in 2015.

The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but years of civil war have denied it infrastructure to offer high speed Internet connections.

The country aims to link its citizens with the rest of the world as well as cut the high cost of using the internet.

Read: South Sudan youth look at a future driven by tech

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South Sudan and Djibouti have signed an agreement to lay fibre optic cable from Djibouti through Ethiopia to the capital Juba. The Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services […]

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S. Sudan plan to build harbor in Djibouti to hurt Kenyan port

South Sudan has bought a piece of land in Djibouti for the construction of a harbour in its latest effort to find an alternative to the port of Mombasa which is facing an onslaught from Dar-es-Salaam.

South Sudan has bought three acres of land at the port of Djibouti for the construction of a facility that will handle its import and export goods as Juba seeks to cut reliance on the Mombasa port in Kenya.

The latest development comes just two months after the Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan said it will shift its cargo to the port of Djibouti, which it termed as convenient for the Africa’s youngest State.

“We have been only using Port Sudan and Mombasa but recently, we have decided to go to Djibouti and as I am speaking to you, we have land in Djibouti,” South Sudan Minister for Petroleum Puot Kang Chol is quoted by local media.

The minister said the land was procured by the Ministry of Petroleum for the purpose of exporting the country’s crude oil as well as use it on imported goods. If effected, the move will hit the port of Mombasa given that Juba is one of Kenya’s largest clients.

Mombasa has been the main route for all consignments destined to the landlocked country with South Sudan importing nearly all of its cargo through the Kenyan port.

Mr Chol said they were ready to facilitate and stock goods destined for South Sudan through Djibouti.

“If any of you have goods, and you want to bring them through Djibouti, we have a land, we will have a space for you to accommodate your materials [or] whatever you want to bring,” said the official.

South Sudan is the second country in terms of cargo throughput volumes at the Mombasa port after Uganda, accounting for 9.9 percent of transit volumes. Uganda accounts for 83 percent of all throughput cargo followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 percent in that order.

Kenya Ports Authority managing director John Mwangemi said South Sudan is one of their largest clients but they can choose a preferred facility. “I am not aware of the development in South Sudan but the government there can make a choice on which port to use,” said Mr Mwangemi.

The announcement by South Sudan comes just a few days after President William Ruto issued a directive for all inbound cargo to be cleared in Mombasa, dealing a blow to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Naivasha.

Kenya allocated South Sudan land in Naivasha for the construction of a dry port, which would see goods destined to Juba cleared at the ICD facility to save truckers the long journey to Mombasa. Kenya has also allocated a piece of land to Uganda to clear its goods in Naivasha.

Dr Ruto promised during the election campaigns to return the port services to Mombasa if elected as President in the August election.

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South Sudan has bought a piece of land in Djibouti for the construction of a harbour in its latest effort to find an alternative to the port of Mombasa which […]

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South Sudan offers 14 oil blocks to increase output

South Sudan is putting up 14 oil blocks for sale in a bid to increase production to pre-war levels of 350,000 barrels a day.

Chol Deng Thon Abel, the Managing Director of state-owned oil consortium, the Nile Petroleum Corporation Limited (Nilepet), told journalists in the capital Juba on Wednesday that interest in its nascent petroleum industry has been growing.

Much of South Sudan’s oil and gas blocks are yet to be fully explored and resources assessed, stalled by conflict.

“We have 14 oil blocks that have not been taken, and we invite international companies that are here to seize the opportunity to apply for these blocks. South Sudan is actually very busy nowadays attracting international companies to come and invest in the oil industry, and this conference is a very good platform to exchange ideas with international companies,” Mr Abel said at the end of the 5th annual oil and power forum.

Read: South Africa signs oil search deal with South Sudan

South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at 3.5 billion barrels, with only about 30 percent of the country explored.

The country currently produces 175,000 barrels a day, about a third of the potential 500,000 bpd, in blocks 1, 2 and 4 and blocks 3 and 7, and block 5A in Unity state.

Read: South Sudan’s oil production plummets

“We have a lot of countries now saying that we need to increase production because there is a huge need for crude because you have the sanctions on Iran, Venezuela and recent Russia and this is where South Sudan is positioning itself to increase production,” Mr Abel said.

Nilepet plans to take over blocks 3 and 7 by 2027, he disclosed, when the exploration production sharing agreement expires.

Blocks 3 and 7 are operated by Dar Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium owned by Malaysian Petroliam Nasional, China National Petroleum Corporation, China Petrochemical, Nile Petroleum and MOG Energy.

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South Sudan is putting up 14 oil blocks for sale in a bid to increase production to pre-war levels of 350,000 barrels a day. Chol Deng Thon Abel, the Managing […]

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Ethiopia, South Sudan sign security cooperation agreements

Ethiopia and South Sudan on Wednesday signed security cooperation agreement to jointly fight terrorism, armed groups and organised crime in the region.

The agreement was signed by the Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of Ethiopia, Temesgen Tiruneh, and the Director General of the Internal Security Bureau of South Sudan, Akor Kor Cook.

The agreement states that “the countries will work together to control and take action against terrorist groups, rebel forces, armed groups and organised criminals who have taken the mission to disrupt peace and security in the border areas and destabilise the East African region.”

In addition, the two countries will work together to prevent illegal arms trafficking, organised crime in the border area, drug trafficking, economic fraud and information technology related crimes.

South Sudan’s Security Affairs Adviser Tut Gatluak Manime said the agreement commits the two countries to exchange information; conduct exchange visits; and enhance training, capacity building and information on immigration, counter-terrorism and border crossing crimes.

“We conveyed the message of assurance of unflinching cooperation and coordination of issues of mutual concern and benefit to the citizens of the two countries,” he said.

According to Ethiopia’s spy agency, the agreement will further strengthen the strategic partnership between Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The two countries also signed a deal to cooperate with the Civil, Citizenship, Passport and Immigration Registration Directorate of South Sudan Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This will enable the two countries to work together to ensure the activities of their citizens are peaceful and their freedom is guaranteed.

The agreement will also play a significant role in ensuring that the activities carried out, especially at the border, protect the social and economic benefits of the citizens of the two countries.

On Monday, the South Sudanese high-level delegation led by Presidential Advisor General Kong Titipip Gatluak, along with senior security and civil officials, visited the construction site of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

After visiting the site, the South Sudanese delegation said the Nile dam project will play an instrumental role for regional integration through the supply of electricity.

“After witnessing the GERD’s construction site, we found that the dam is a large project and can provide all neighbouring countries with electricity…We have really seen a very big job,” Manime told state media.

The South Sudanese official urged Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt to resume stalled talks over the Nile dam filling.

Ethiopia’s Defense Minister Abraham Belay said, “The dam we are building is not only for Ethiopia but also for Africa. The rumours about the dam and the reality on the ground are totally different. The countries of the river basin should also understand that this dam ensures mutual benefit. For instance, our Grand Renaissance Dam has two bottom outlets for the purpose of downstream countries so that they can get water throughout the year.”

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Ethiopia and South Sudan on Wednesday signed security cooperation agreement to jointly fight terrorism, armed groups and organised crime in the region. The agreement was signed by the Director General […]

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95 killed in South Sudan communal conflicts

At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported.

A humanitarian snapshot released by UNOCHA on Thursday and seen by The EastAfrican adds that more than 17,500 people were also displaced.

“At least 80 people were killed during intercommunal violence in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria. Fighting between armed factions in Mayom County, Unity State resulted in dozens of people being killed or injured.

“Cattle raids in Gumuruk County, Pibor Administrative Area, displaced some 1,700 people and left 15 dead. Torrential rain and floods affected nearly 2,400 people in the IDP site, Twic County in Warrap,” OCHA stated.

The agency added that some 7.7 million people are estimated to face crisis or higher levels of food insecurity across the country.

“People’s situation in Longochuk County, Upper Nile State, related to food security was reported as worrying; as a result, some 5,000 people moved to Maiwut and Pagak in Maiwut County. Residents fled to the bush or to nearby villages seeking safety.

“In July, armed cattle keepers attacked villages in Yei County, Central Equatoria and looted properties including livestock. Renewed fighting between armed factions in Kundru Boma, Yei County, displaced hundreds of people to neighbouring villages, and others crossed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said OCHA.

The agency went added that in Ikotos County of Eastern Equatoria State, clashes between an armed youth group and government soldiers led to the death and injury of an unconfirmed number of people, including an NGO worker, adding that an unknown number of civilians were reported displaced within Ikotos town.

Last year, the UN Security Council approved a resolution extending an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan for one year. South Sudan’s unity government opposed the decision, arguing it would jeopardise the progress of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement [ARCSS] which helped form the unity government last year.

South Sudan has many guns in circulation, most held by civilians.

According to a Gun Policy report, the estimated total number of guns (both legal and illicit) held by civilians in South Sudan was 1.2 million in 2017 and 3 million in 2013. The Defence Forces of South Sudan is reported to have 351,500 firearms.

Juba, which is barred from purchasing weapons from the international market unless with express permission from the UN Security Council, argues that the arms embargo makes it difficult to equip its forces.

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At least 95 people have been killed in communal conflicts in South Sudan in July alone, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has reported. A humanitarian […]

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South Sudan suspends dredging of Nile tributaries

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardiit has suspended all dredging activities on Nile tributaries following opposition within his government, environmentalists and activists over the deal with Egypt.

Mr Kiir’s order put to end weeks of public debate sparked by the arrival a month ago of a 21-truck convoy from Cairo with dredging equipment, which brought to light the agreement signed in April last year.

The President said environmental studies on the project’s impact on the communities and ecosystem must be done before any dredging of the Naam River and resumption of the Jonglei canal project.

“In the last few weeks, the country has been engaged in an emotive debate over the issue of dredging the Bhar-el-Ghazel basin, especially the Naam River. In this debate, the contending sides have put forward legitimate arguments both for and against dredging.

“For example, those who support dredging see it as a permanent solution to floods in the low areas. Others in some groups see it as a means of opening our waterways for river transport that will ease transportation bottlenecks in the country,” said Mr Kiir during his address on the country’s 11th independence anniversary on July 9.

He added: “On the other side of the debate, dredging without proper studies is viewed as a path to an ecological disaster that will change South Sudan’s biodiversity forever.”

He noted that after following the arguments keenly, he “realised the outcry from both sides came because we have not conducted informed public consultation that addresses the concerns.”

The 30km canal project involves dredging and aquatic weed control in the Bahr el Ghazal basin and creating landing spots along the canal.

While some argue it would mitigate the perennial floods that displace thousands in Unity State, others say the project will only benefit Egypt at the expense of South Sudanese.

President Kiir stressed that evidence-based studies on the impact of the activities on the environment, communities and ecology of the Sudd region be carried out by competent persons.

He ordered the Environmental and Forestry ministry to engage experts for the feasibility studies.

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardiit has suspended all dredging activities on Nile tributaries following opposition within his government, environmentalists and activists over the deal with Egypt. Mr Kiir’s order […]

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