South Sudan rebel leader Machar back in Juba after two years

South Sudan rebel leader Machar back in Juba after two years

Ex-vice president Riek Machar returned for the first time since 2016 to take part in a peace ceremony.

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar has returned to the capital, Juba, more than two years after he fled the country after the collapse of a 2016 peace deal.

Machar, the former vice president, returned to Juba on Wednesday to take part in a peace ceremony.

Machar fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016. He later travelled to South Africa, where he was held under house arrest until earlier this year.

Last month, he and President Salva Kiir signed a new peace deal in Ethiopia in the latest attempt to end the five-year civil war that erupted in the world’s youngest country in December 2013.

On Wednesday, Kiir said Machar’s imprisoned South African adviser, William Endley, and a rebel group spokesman, James Gatdet, would be released on Thursday as part of the peace deal.

Endley will be deported to South Africa upon release, Kiir said.

Machar’s previous homecoming in April 2016 was put off by wrangling over how many bodyguards he could bring with him and what weapons they would carry.

South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011 after a 22-year civil war pitting rebel groups against Khartoum.

Safety concerns

It was not immediately clear how long Machar would remain in Juba, as his aides have expressed concerns over his safety in the city.

“We are worried for his security in Juba, but the truth is here: we are for peace, and what we are trying to do is build trust,” Gabriel said.

Several thousand people have gathered for the ceremony at the John Garang Mausoleum, built in honour of the independence hero who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Among regional leaders in Juba for the ceremony were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopia’s newly appointed President Sahle-Work Zewde and Somalia’s head of state Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was also expected to attend.

Humanitarian crisis

Two years after gaining independence, South Sudan descended into civil war after Kiir accused his then-deputy, Machar, of plotting a coup.

Ethnically-charged fighting soon spread from the capital across the impoverished state, shutting down oil fields, forcing millions to flee and killing tens of thousands of people.

The conflict split the country along ethnic lines and has seen mass rape, the forced recruitment of child soldiers and attacks on civilians.

It has caused one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises and wrecked the economy in a country which relies on oil production for the vast bulk of its revenues.

A power-sharing deal that returned Machar to the vice presidency was signed in 2015. But it collapsed a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile.

The United Nations and the African Union earlier this month appealed to the country’s warring parties to make concrete steps to implement the latest accord.

SOURCE: News agencies

Regional presidents, Machar joined South Sudan peace celebration

Regional presidents, Machar joined South Sudan peace celebration

Leaders from around the East Africa subregion ‘descended’ on the South Sudanese capital, Juba, to join the peace day celebrations.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Somalia’s Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s president Sahle-Work Zewde, were among the dignitaries who joined the event.

Each of the the leaders presented a message to the government and people of South Sudan, stressing the need to maintain and work to protect the September 12 peace deal signed in Addis Ababa.

South Sudanese rebel leader and former first vice-president, Riek Machar, earlier returned to the country for the first time since 2016. He arrived in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday to join the event.

The former Vice President had fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 under a hail of gunfire when an earlier peace deal collapsed.

Machar and President Salva Kiir signed a new peace agreement last month in the latest attempt to end the five-year war which has claimed thousands of lives.

Riek Machar smiles as he walks outside surrounded by other people at the Juba airport

In a letter to President Salva Kiir earlier this week, Machar demanded to take charge of his security upon return to the youngest African nation.

International partners and mediators remain sceptical about the respect of this new deal following multiple ceasefire violations.

Source – African News

Qatar lifts exit visa system for migrant workers

Qatar lifts exit visa system for migrant workers

By BRIAN NGUGI

Hundreds of African migrants employed in Qatar as domestic workers, cleaners, drivers and chefs can now come back home freely after the Middle East nation abolished its controversial exit visa system, which requires foreigners to obtain their bosses’ permission to exit the country.

Qatar authorities said on Sunday the “Law No 13 of 2018… regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates would be implemented effective this week.

Kenya on Monday welcomed the move saying it raises hope of an end to mistreatment of locals seeking bread and butter in Qatar. It asked other middle east nations to follow suit.

“It is a welcome development of putting to an end a heinous and outmoded system that has sinister echoes of a dark and oppressive time of shackled labour and slavery,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in an interview yesterday.

“We welcome the development and hope that Qatar’s enlightened leadership will resonate across the Arab Middle East, where similar systems of denial of free passage of peoples and labour continues to cause great difficulties and suffering among migrant workers and even some professionals,” Mr Kamau said.

Kenya has over the years called for abolition of the exit visa system as it had long been abused by employers who would confiscate passports of workers.

Most Kenyan migrants are employed as domestic workers and are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, violence, rape and sometimes murder.

Many of them who have returned home from Qatar and other Middle East nations have come back with harrowing tales of mistreatment, torture and abuse by their employers, with many blaming the exit visa system for their predicaments.

But under the new law, all but five per cent of a company’s workforce-reportedly those in the most senior positions-can leave without prior permission from employers.

Those not allowed to exit Qatar “for any reason” can file a complaint to the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee that will “take a decision within three working days”, the Qatar ministry was quoted as saying.

Employment contracts involving migrant workers in the Middle East are based on the ancient Bedouin principle of kafala, which many liken to modern-day slavery.

What was once essentially a code of hospitality – that encouraged families to host travelling strangers and treat them as one of their own – has evolved into the sponsorship of migrant workers, which gives employers enormous control over their employees. Common practices include the withholding of wages, confiscation of passports and long working hours in substandard or inhuman conditions.

Domestic workers, who are obliged to live in their employer’s homes, are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, sexual violence and various forms of mental cruelty, while the almost total lack of labour laws for migrants provides little scope for redress.

Kenya in September 2014 announced a ban on export of labour to Middle East countries but later lifted it last year after instituting reforms that included vetting of recruitment agencies.

In 2013, the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh rescued more than 800 Kenyans languishing in Saudi jails.

Source – Daily Nation

South Sudanese President orders release of Opposition party spokesman During Peace Celebrations

South Sudanese President orders release of Opposition party spokesman During Peace Celebrations

(JUBA) – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Wednesday ordered the release of James Gatdet Dak the spokesperson of SPLM-IO leader.

Kiir announced his decision during the celebration of the peace agreed attended by the regional leaders and in presence of opposition leaders including Riek Machar.

Dak was deported by the Kenyan authorities to Juba on 3 November 2016 because he praised a UN report blaming a Kenyan general who was the UNMISS former force commander for his failure to protect civilians in Juba during the bloody clashes of July 2016.

President Kiir said that James was condemned by a special court but he ordered today to free him from jail.

On 12 February 2018, a special court in Juba sentenced James to death by hanging, but his lawyers described the verdict as a political decision.

The South Sudanese leader also ordered the release of a second South African mercenary and ordered to expel him immediately.

He also reiterated his commitment to fully implement the peace agreement and called on the South Sudanese opposition leaders to remain in the country and to contribute to the peace implementation from now onward.

Source  – Sudan Tribune

Let’s Mourn and Celebrate the IGAD’s led Peace Agreement of 2018

Let’s Mourn and Celebrate the IGAD’s led Peace Agreement of 2018

By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey

ON 31 OCTOBER 2018:

(a) South Sudan paradoxically, mourns and regrets the past five years, and celebrates “the Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS),” which was signed on 12 September 2018, by President Salva Kiir Mayadit (SPLM), Dr. Riek Machar Teny (SPLM IO) and Gabriel Changson (SSOA), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is, hopefully, expected to end the political anarchy, chaos, violence and the devastating “senseless war,” so-called, that held the country hostage from 2013-2018.

(b) Mourns and regrets “the senseless war,” so-called, which unfortunately broke out on 15 December 2013, within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) leadership, ranks, and files. This devastating war, is estimated to have killed 400,000 South Sudanese, displaced 2 million internally, forced out of the country 2 million more into exile, seeking political asylum as refugees in the neighboring East African countries, and exposed 7 million more to severe starvation and untimely death resulting from related diseases. Children, women and the elderly became the main victims.

(c) Nevertheless, in the expression to the national commitment to national-unity and transformation, peace and security, accountability, apologeticness, harmony, reconciliation, and shared forgiveness South Sudan celebrates. South Sudan commits and celebrates these basic principles in peace-making which are, fortunately, embodied in the R-ARCSS. South Sudan celebrates along with 99 percent of its resilient citizens, collectively wishing their leaders: Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and others, to declare their political commitment and loyalty to the country and the people.

(d) South Sudan celebrates to declare its full commitment to the implementation, letter, and spirit, the R-ARCSS.

(e) Finally, South Sudan celebrates, without prejudices, to thank and appreciate the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its fair and transparent approach to resolve the arms conflict; to thank the Troika (the US, UK, and Norway) for their tireless efforts to support the humanitarian plight, peace mediation and funding; to thank the African Union (AU); the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). And finally, appreciate the personal efforts exerted Presidents Museveni, Al Bashir, Kenyatta, Ramophosa and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, of Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia respectively.

NB: On my personal level, I congratulate President Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President-designate Riek Machar Teny, Hon. Gabriel Changson and the rest of the politicians, heads of the political parties: to please reconcile and forgive one another and expect the citizens, people of South Sudan to forgive in return. Best regards!

Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey is a Former Government Minister in Sudan and South Sudan. He  is currently  a  Member of Parliament in South Sudan and the Chief Administrative Officer at The Nile Explorer – The Mirror of Africa.