Preparations for independence celebrations gather momentum

JUBA, 18 June 2011 –The preparations for the celebration of independence of South Sudan have gathered momentum.


Today, the army and other organized forces staged a rehearsal parade in Juba in preparation for the festivities. The marching began at the Buluk Police playground and ended at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum. Members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which is bound to become the South Sudan Army as well as the Police, Wildlife, Prison, Fire Brigade, Women, Youth as well as scouts of South Sudan, participated in the parade.

 


Part of the parade.


The march was also attended by the chairperson of the parade committee, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, who is also the GOSS minister for Education, as well as his Office of the President counterpart, H.E. Dr. Cirino Hitend Ofuho.


In a related event, Mr. Mustafa Biong Majak, the Director General of Information in the GOSS Ministry of Information who is also the chairperson of the Information and Mobilization committee led the members of the committee in inspecting arrangements for the international, regional and local media expected to cover the independence celebrations.


South Sudan will host several dignitaries during the independence celebrations scheduled for 9 July 2011. Several committees and sub-committees are coordinating various preparation activities for the event.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


SSLA Speaker urges the people to stand behind President Kiir

JUBA, 18 June 2011 - The speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) who is also the deputy chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Rt. Hon. James Wani Igga has called on all South Sudanese to rally behind President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan.

 

He made the call this week at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba while addressing the participants at a function to commemorate the African Child Day.

 

This call comes at a time when the South Sudan is preparing to celebrate its independence.

 

Hon. Wani stated that the government has been lobbying for recognition from all countries. He said emissaries of the government visited many countries including the European Union (EU) and that all the countries expressed their readiness to recognize the country and even attend the celebrations in July.

 

The speaker also denied the allegation that an attack by the SPLA sparked off the current quagmire in Abyei. “The SPLA did not start bombing Abyei, it was a lie. The North wanted to mislead the international community”, he asserted adding that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) had deployed their troops three weeks before the attack.


Reported by Ater Garang Ariath


US President calls for a ceasefire

JUBA, 16 June 2011 (VOA) – US President Barrack Obama has appealed to the Sudan leaders to stop military action immediately including aerial bombardment, forced displacement and intimidation.


President Obama also called on Sudanese leaders to end violence and allow aid workers and relief supplies to be delivered to the innocent people who are affected. He also called upon the CPA partners to implement the CPA outstanding issues on Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and resolve differences peacefully.


“Today, I want to speak directly to Sudanese leaders. You must know that if you fulfill your obligations and choose peace, the U.S. will take the steps we have pledged towards normal relations. However, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation and they will be held accountable for their actions”, President said.

 


President Obama
[Photo: VOA]


He also said that the U.S. government is working to normalize relations with Khartoum. However, he cautioned that those who dishonor their international duty will be held accountable for their actions.


“The Sudanese people have come too far and sacrificed too much to see their dreams of a better future slip from their grasp”, he emphasized. “Now is the time for Sudanese leaders to show the courage and vision that true leadership demands. Now is the time for Sudanese leaders, north and south, to choose peace”, President Obama asserted.


President Obama also said that the U.S. is working with its allies and partners to end the violence and protect innocent civilians in Sudan.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


SSLA committee reports the status of dura stores in South Sudan

JUBA, 14 June 2011 – A parliamentary select committee yesterday reported the status of dura stores in all states of Southern Sudan.


The members of the select committee reported their findings during an ordinary sitting No: 23/2011 dated Monday 13th June 2011 held at 10: 00 am at the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) and chaired by the Right Hon. James Wani Igga, the SSLA speaker.


The committee reported that there are 15 stores in Eastern Equatoria, 6 in Central Equatoria, 3 in Unity, 4 in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, 3 in Western Equatoria, none in Western Bahr el Ghazal, and 3 in Upper Nile. Warrap, Lakes and Jonglei states still need stores.


The committee also recommended that:

  1. In future, any request for the construction of food stores or warehouses must be approved by central government and resolved by the Council of Ministers;
  2. There is need to clearly spell out the issue of the ownership of the stores, that is, if they belong to the central government or state government;
  3. There is need to be disciplined in awarding the contracts and that procurement laws must be strictly adhered to. Any deviations should be penalized;
  4. In future there is need to select qualified and experienced contractors through a transparent bidding process; and
  5. All contractors who have not completed their work must refund the money to the government.


The committee was comprised of the following honourable members:

  1. Hon. Deng Dau Deng (Chairperson)
  2. Hon. Michael Muat Dhieu
  3. Hon. Richard K. Mulla
  4. Hon. Wieu Kong Koyang
  5. Hon. Vosca Martin Mayom
  6. Hon. Kuany Mayom
  7. Hon. Jamine Samuel Adakayi


The sitting was attended by 91 honourable members.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot
 


Initiative to dispel North-South border tensions ongoing

JUBA, 14 June 2011 – An initiative to build sustainable peace among the communities living along the North-South border is ongoing.


According to H.E. John Luk Jok, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), the government has engaged renowned experts on border issues to facilitate dialogue amongst the border communities.


The minister admitted that the border issue is one of the outstanding CPA issues which have not been resolved conclusively. He said that the government is also working with international organizations such as Concordis and the European Union to resolve the issue.


The minister made these remarks when he addressed a workshop attended by the border communities held in Juba on Monday. The two-day workshop was attended by governors, chiefs, members of the civil society and commissioners of five border states of Unity, Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap in South Sudan. Representatives from Northern border states also attended the workshop.

 

“We still stress the importance of developing peace-building strategies and capacity that goes beyond single states but involves regional engagement to facilitate cross-border harmony and inter-community trade and coexistence”, said the minister.

 

H.E. Jok also explained that peace initiatives for the borderline communities are critical as the South gears for its independence in July 2011. He said that the communities should establish joint peace committees to resolve key issues and coordinate response to challenges in collaboration with the local authorities.
“Security is a precondition for the development of the economic activities because the border communities need basic services to improve their livelihoods”, he said.

The workshop was organized by Concordis International in collaboration with the GOSS Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation. Manday Gardner, Concordis’ deputy director for Sudan, said the purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform for the development of strategies for borders and security management between the North and South Sudan.

 

“We are always neutral and we want the maintenance of peace and development in the borders and to foster conditions in which peaceful coexistence, security, trade and development can be enjoyed by the communities living, moving and working on the both sides of Sudan’s North-South border”, the deputy director said.

 

Reported by Ater Garang Ariath


Talks between President Kiir and President Bashir ongoing in Addis Ababa

ADDIS ABABA, 13 June 2011 - The two principals of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, President Omer El-Bashir and Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit started a very hot closed-door dialogue yesterday afternoon at the State House in Addis Ababa.


The talks were conducted under the auspices of AU/HIP and witnessed by Mr. Thabo Mbeki and Mr. Pierre Buoyoya as well as the IGAD Chair H.E. Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia.


Addressing the press after the talks yesterday, Mr. Mbeki said that the meeting was essentially looking at all matters relating to the withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) from Abyei, the Abyei administration and issues of political and joint security mechanisms between the south and the north and the borders.


The AU/HIP chair also said the discussions took the whole day yesterday without being concluded but he explained that the two principals are very concerned that an urgent solution must be found to the issues. For this reason, he said, the principals decided to resume the talks today, Monday June 13th 2011 at 9.30 am Addis Ababa local time.


By Thomas Kenneth


Schools organizing carnival show to celebrate independence

JUBA, 10 June 2011 – The ministries of Education, and Youth and Sports are organizing carnival shows to be staged by school children during the independence celebrations in Juba.


Addressing the press after a planning meeting in Juba yesterday, the undersecretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr George Justin Achor, said that the children who will participate have been identified and registered with the relevant authorities.

 


Mr. Achor addressing the press after the meeting.


He said that the ministries are working with the school authorities and teachers in organizing the carnival show. He said that training of the participating teachers has already begun. He called on all the relevant institutions, officers and parents to cooperate and make the project a success.


Reported by Gisma Shaban Suleiman


“Exercise your freedom responsibly”, Information minister urges the media

JUBA, 9 June 2011 – H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister for Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today urged the media to exercise their freedom responsibly. He also reiterated that the Government of Southern Sudan is committed to protect the rights of the journalists but emphasized that these rights should be enjoyed for the public good.


The minister made these remarks when he opened a two-day roundtable for the media professionals and security organs in South Sudan. He explained that the roundtable will provide a grand opportunity for both stakeholders to deliberate pressing issues freely. He urged both parties to take the meeting very seriously and come up with a suitable operational framework that marries their interests.


He called on journalists and security teams to work together amicably especially as South Sudan draws close to its independence. He said that the country will host many media institutions and professionals and emphasized that all systems should be enhanced to make this day a success.


“We had two thousand media houses during the referendum; we expect more in July”, he said.


The UNDP representative in Juba also lauded the roundtable and emphasized that the media will play a major role in the building of the Republic of South Sudan. He explained that the many years of war have left physical and psychological scars on the South Sudanese and called on the media to help heal the wounds.


He also called on the media to help unite the country. “There is need to unify the people to feel a sense of belonging as South Sudanese and not as members of tribal groupings”, he emphasized. He also urged the media to focus on development and human interest stories to enrich the relationship between the government and the populace. He called on the international community to support the new country and give it time to mature.


“The international community is quick to point fingers, criticize and set standards that are not achievable even in their own countries”, he said.


On his part the Director General of Information, Mr. Mustafa Biong Majak said that the media, government and security organs are all members of the South Sudanese family and should work for its good.


Mr. Oliver Modi, the chairperson of the Union of Southern Sudan Journalists said journalists in South Sudan are facing many challenges such as inadequate training systems, partnerships, funding and technologies. He called on the government and journalists to work together and accommodate each other’s mutual needs and interests. He also encouraged the media houses to be independent, responsible and innovative.


The roundtable which is ongoing at the Star Hotel in Juba is organized by the Ministry of Information and UNMIS with sponsorship from the UNDP. It is attended by several media practitioners and security officers.


Fifth Speaker’s Forum kicks off in Juba

JUBA, 9 June 2011 – The fifth Speaker’s Forum in Southern Sudan kicked off in Juba yesterday under the theme: “Preparing for an effective, efficient and sovereign independent South Sudan”.


The forum was officially opened by the President of Government of Southern Sudan, H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. It is being attended by the speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA), Rt. Hon. James Wani Igga, GOSS ministers, speakers and deputy speakers of the state assemblies, ministers of Parliamentary Affairs, and honourable members of the SSLA.


In the opening remarks, President Kiir said that the forum is the last one of its kind before the independence of South Sudan. He expressed hope that the forum will generate valuable ideas for the transitional period. He stressed that South Sudan will respect the UN charter and declaration of human rights.


He explained that the political parties were involved in the development of the transitional constitution. He pointed out that the Transitional Constitution was approved by the SPLM Political Bureau as well as GOSS Council of Ministers and presented to the SSLA. He said that political parties were involved in the process but regretted that some parties pulled out from the committee. He stressed that South Sudan constitution cannot be developed by the SPLM alone because South Sudan is for all Southerners.


The President disclosed that there are ten inaccurate copies of the constitution which were circulated by wrong elements within the government. He said that the same group is working to divide the people of South Sudan on tribal lines. He called on the honourable members the SSLA to pass the constitution with amendments deemed necessary for the corporate good of the country. He stressed that the members of parliament should work in the interest of the party as well as the interest of the people who elected them to parliament, not tribal interests.


He condemned the invasion of Abyei by the Sudan Armed Forces. He said the invasion was meant to provoke South Sudan into war so as to derail independence arrangements. He also condemned the order to disarm the SPLA members who are citizens of Southern Kordufan.


The forum is being held at the New Sudan Hotel in Juba.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


National anthem team outreaching to ministries

JUBA, 7 June 2011 - The South Sudan national anthem outreach team is visiting staff in ministries in an effort to publicize the national anthem in readiness for independence. The team also teaches the staff the lyrics and music of the anthem.


Yesterday, the team visited the Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation and taught the staff the anthem. Sitting in the ministry’s lawns, all the staff led by the Undersecretary, Madam Beatrice Khamisa Wani, patriotically rehearsed the music of the national anthem.

 


Staff of the Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation staff rehearse the national anthem at the ministry's premises in Juba.
[Photo: Lindri Godfrey Alex]


The secretary of the team, Mr. Yerijo, said they wanted to make sure that all the people are able to read and sing the anthem clearly before the 9th July 2011 Independence Day.


Shortly after rehearsing the anthem, the undersecretary told the press that it was one of the most wonderful days in the history of the ministry. “We started with great rain and ending the day with singing our national anthem is just gratifying”, she said. She urged the citizens to internalize the words of the anthem. She also urged the other civil servants and public institutions to cooperate with the team.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey Alex


New DDR policy under discussion

JUBA, 7 June 2011 – A consultative workshop to discuss the draft demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) policy paper for the Republic of South Sudan is underway in Juba.


Opening the workshop organized by the Southern Sudan Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC), the minister for Information in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said that DDR initiatives remain a priority for the government. He said that the DDR programmes, which began in 2005, will continue after the independence of South Sudan.


Dr. Marial said that the policy of the government is to reduce the size of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which, he said, had grown over the years because almost all South Sudanese were involved in liberation struggle. He said the government, through the Ministry of SPLA and Veterans Affairs, has been working to transform the army from a guerrilla movement to a disciplined and professional national army of a sovereign state.


Dr. Marial also said that the transformation of the SPLA is on course and that it is just a matter of time before the army begins to contribute peace keeping forces in the region and beyond.


He explained that GOSS is committed to reintegrate the demobilized ex-combatants into civilian life. He emphasized that the DDR programme enables the government to empower the ex-combatants to live productive lives and contribute to the development of the new country. He emphasized that the ex-combatants cannot just be demobilized in an ad hoc manner otherwise they can be a security threat.

 


Dr. Marial addressing the participants of the workshop.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


“The demobilized ex-combatants will be empowered to participate in agriculture and produce sufficient food for their subsistence and also for commercial purposes both locally and internationally”, he said. Dr. Marial also said that the ex-combatants will be engaged in craftsmanship to support the reconstruction of South Sudan.


The minister also said that the DDR programme prioritizes the reintegration of ex-combatants with disabilities, ex-combatants with psychological problems, female ex-combatants, and South Sudanese combatants on foreign soil.


He also clarified that the SPLA did not recruit child soldiers. He explained the children who went to the SPLA barracks during the war were mainly war-orphans who had nowhere to go. He asserted, however, that such children were taken to schools in the region and beyond. He explained that it is under such arrangements that hundreds of South Sudanese children were educated in Cuba and elsewhere. He said that these children were later resettled in the Diaspora and trained in various professions. Some of them, he said, are now back in the country and serving as professionals in diverse disciplines.


Dr. Marial appealed to the international community and donor organizations to support the government’s DDR efforts to bolster and sustain peace in the new country. He clarified that support for DDR is not support for the army per se but for the peace building process in the country.


H.E. William Deng, the chairperson of the SSDDRC lauded the support of the government and other donors to the DDR programmes. Nonetheless, he admitted that the commission still faces myriad challenges. He said that the consultative meeting and the policy paper under discussion will harness the efforts of all the stakeholders in setting priorities, allocating resources and implementing DDR projects in South Sudan.


The workshop is being held at “Home and Away” in Juba and is attended by representatives of GOSS, the SPLA and other organized forces, donor community, UN agencies and other stakeholders.
 


Abyei issue will be resolved before independence

JUBA, 6 June 2011 – The leaders of the Abyei community in Juba yesterday reassured their compatriots and the international community at large that the impasse on Abyei will be resolved amicably before South Sudan’s independence on 9 July 2011.


Leading the members of the community, H.E. Deng Alor Koul, the minister for Regional Cooperation in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), who is also a member of the SPLM Political Bureau reassured the people that President Salva Kiir Mayardit is committed to resolving the Abyei issue through peaceful means.


The Abyei community reiterated their condemnation of the invasion of their homeland by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and said that it was ill-advised and aimed at settling the Misseriya in the area. They asserted that Abyei is the land of the Dinka Ngok and warned that no amount of intimidation will coerce them to let go of their birthright.


H.E. Alor explained that the international community and the United Nations are with the people of Abyei and are pushing for a peaceful resolution of the impasse. He also said that the community is considering opening a case against the Government of Sudan and President Omar Al-Bashir before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the killings and displacement of the people.

 


H.E. Alor addressing the participants at the briefing meeting.


H.E. James Kok Ruea, the GOSS minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management blamed the Addis Ababa Agreement for considering Abyei as being part of Southern Kordufan. He expressed confidence that Abyei will return to South Sudan through an administrative decree. The minister emphasized that Abyei should not be isolated from the rest of South Sudan, even in speech.


The minister said that GOSS is coordinating the delivery of humanitarian services to the displaced people. He said that his ministry has set a base at Agok and is doing what it can to support the people who are now living in deplorable conditions. He appealed to the international community and other aid organizations to support the humanitarian initiatives of the government.


The community and its leaders made these remarks at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba when they briefed the international community, members of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA), and UN representatives on the Abyei issue. The briefing was also attended by the former minister for Cabinet Affairs in the national government, H.E. Dr. Luka Biong.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


Ministry of information receives 8 vehicles

JUBA, 3 June 2011 – The Ministry of Information, Government of Southern Sudan, today received eight brand new Toyota landcruiser vehicles.


While officially receiving and distributing the vehicles, the minister for Information, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin emphasized that the vehicles belong to the people of South Sudan. He explained that the ministry has only received them in trust for the people. He emphasized that the vehicles should be used for their designated purposes to deliver services to the people.

 


Dr. Marial (right) hands the keys of one of the vehicles to Mr. Santino Okanyi, Ag. Director of Government Printing Press (left) as other officers watch.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Dr. Marial explained that the role of the ministry is critical especially now as the country gears for independence. He said information collection, organization and dissemination is complex and often requires frequent travel on rough terrain. He said that the vehicles will be important assets in facilitating the fulfilment of this role.


The minister also said that the ministry is considering bringing smaller vehicles under owner-purchase scheme. He explained that under the scheme, the vehicles will be distributed to staff members who will pay for them in instalments. He said that apart from easing transportation, the arrangement will reduce logistical costs. He also said that the scheme would help to instil discipline in the management of vehicles since officers will not misuse their own cars.


He also said that the ministry is considering purchasing buses and motorcycles to be used by lower cadre staff. He said such members of staff currently face great transportation challenges yet they are expected to reach and clean offices punctually.
“With good transport, no one will come to the office late; good transport means efficiency and productivity in the workplace”, he emphasized.

 


Some of the vehicles.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


The undersecretary, News Agency of South Sudan (NASS), Public Information Centre (PIC), Government Printing Press (GPP), Southern Sudan Radio News and Programmes, Southern Sudan TV News and Programmes, and Southern Sudan TV Engineering received one vehicle each. One of the vehicles is kept at the headquarters and will be used by VIPs visiting the ministry.


The undersecretary, Mr. George Garang Deng, thanked the government for this support. He expressed confidence that the vehicles will enhance the productivity of the ministry. The event, at the ministry’s headquarters, was also attended by the Director General of Information Mr. Mustafa Biong Majak, the Director General of SSTV and Radio Mr. Arop Bagat as well as other senior officers at the ministry.


Ministry of Education to host international conference

JUBA, 3 June 2011 – The Ministry of Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) will host an international educational conference in Juba later this month, the minister H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein has said.


Dr. Hussein made this announcement yesterday while closing a two-day consultative workshop for the education sector stakeholders in Juba. He said that part of the recommendations of the workshop will be applied in the organization of the conference.


The minister also said that the workshop gave the sector stakeholders an opportunity to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. He said it also gave the stakeholders an opportunity to devise appropriate remedies for the challenges the sector faces.

 


Dr. Hessein addresses the media after closing the workshop.


Dr. Hussein also said that the workshop had identified gaps in the curriculum, coordination between sector stakeholders at all levels, teachers’ training and remuneration, and institutional capacity building as some of the critical issues they must deal with to enhance education in independent South Sudan. He said the full workshop report and recommendations will be compiled and circulated within twenty days.


Hon. James Duku Janga, chairperson of Education Committee in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) lauded the workshop and challenged all the ministries to use participatory planning approach. He emphasized that the education sector stakeholders should seek ways of uplifting the quality of education in the country. He urged them to embrace good financial management policies to ensure equitable distribution of the sector’s fiscal and human resources countrywide.


Reported by Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Annual states and counties planning and budgeting kicks off

JUBA, 2 June 2011 – The annual states and counties planning and budgeting process kicked off in Juba yesterday.


The workshop is organized and facilitated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (GOSS), the Local Government Board and UNDP. Similar workshops have been conducted for last three years but for first time this year it has been attended by all commissioners from all 79 Counties of South Sudan, all the executive directors of all counties, directors general of Finance and Local Government Board officials from the ten states as well as other officials from the state ministries of Finance.


The workshop was opened yesterday by H.E. David Deng Athorbei , the GOSS minister for Finance and Economic Planning and the Deputy Chairperson of the Local Government Board H.E Anthony Arigi .The objective of the three-day workshop is to focus on state and county planning and budgeting to discuss pay roll issues and the South Sudan Development Planning and Aid strategy.


The undersecretary of Economic Planning in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Mr. Aggrey Tisa Sabuni stated that the workshop’s objective is to strengthen financial management at the county, state and GOSS levels.


The workshop was also attended by the GOSS minister for Labour and Public Service and senior officials from different ministries.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


Workshop to transform Ministry of Regional Cooperation to Foreign Affairs ongoing

JUBA, 2 June 2011 – A three-day workshop aimed at transforming the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) to a fully fledged Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation kicked off in Juba today.


Opening the workshop, the GOSS minister for Regional Cooperation, H.E. Deng Alor said that the workshop has brought together all heads of GOSS missions and consultants to develop a strategy and other blueprints for the envisaged Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan.


The minister also said that the workshop will also develop the new country’s foreign policy which should be in force immediately after independence in July. He explained that the workshop will also set priorities, allocate resources and develop institutions to facilitate the operations of the envisaged ministry.

 


H.E. Alor (centre) and his Undersecretary Mr. Michael Majok Guandong (left) listen to the presentation of Mr. Duale (right).
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Mr. Abdillahi Mohamed Duale, a consultant and former foreign minister in the Republic of Somaliland, shared his experience of setting up a foreign affairs ministry for a new state. In his presentation, he identified key security threats that the new country should be wary of if it is to stabilize. He said distrust amongst political parties, unresolved issues with the Government of Sudan, existence of external forces such as the LRA, arms trafficking and proliferation of small arms, terrorism and economic challenges are some of the factors that may threaten the nascent peace in the Republic of South Sudan.


Mr. Duale also emphasized that the existence of militias in the country will be a major challenge to security. “The militias are considered as one of the spoilers to the peace building process inflicting untold losses of human and material destruction as well as displacing South Sudanese”, he said.


Hon. James Lual Deng, the chairperson of the Specialized Committee on International and Regional Cooperation of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) said that the workshop has come at the most opportune moment. He expressed confidence that its recommendations will be valuable in charting a way forward for the ministry and the country’s foreign policy.


The workshop is being held at Home And Away in Juba.
 


Southern Sudanese media professionals return from training mission in Japan

JUBA, 2 June 2011 – A delegation of twelve broadcast and print media professionals drawn from the private and public sectors have returned from a two-week training mission in Japan.


While briefing the media and other Ministry of Information staff, the Undersecretary in the ministry Mr. George Garang Deng who led the delegation said that the team had learnt a lot from the trip. He said the trip exposed the team to modern communication tools and techniques.


Mr. Garang also underscored the urgent need of training for radio and television engineers, technicians for print and broadcast media as well as other technical professionals required by the media sector. He appreciated the support of the Government of Japan for facilitating the course through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

 


Mr. Garang (right) addresses the meeting accompanied by Mr. Justin Alear (left), the Director of the Public Information Centre (PIC) in the ministry who was also in the delegation.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


He also explained that Japan has managed to leave behind it the effects of the World War II which had devastated the country. He said that South Sudan is also seeking to leave behind the consequences of several years of civil war and move on to a new pedestal. He said the lessons learnt by the media professionals through the course will be valuable in this regard.


The Undersecretary also commended JICA for other development projects in education, health, infrastructure, technical training, customs, waste management and media it has supported in the country. He said that these projects are crucial in the rebuilding of South Sudan.


The JICA representative in Juba reiterated that the history of Japan is quite similar to that of South Sudan. He expressed hope that the new country will learn from the experience of Japan. “We will always be partners; the cooperation today may not be much but a lot is expected in the future”, he said.


The two officers made these remarks yesterday at the Ministry of Information Headquarters in Juba when they received the media professionals who had returned from the training trip in Japan.


Reported by Khamis Matata Safi


Ministry of Education to build girls’ boarding schools

JUBA, 1 June 2011 – The Ministry of Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) will construct more girls’ boarding schools to reduce their school dropout rates.


This was announced today by the Minister for Education, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, when he opened a two-day workshop for the Education Reconstruction and Development Forum. He also said that the ministry is constructing more learning spaces and training teachers. He emphasized that the ministry will conduct learning in both English and Arabic languages.


The minister also underscored the significant role education will play in building the independent Republic of South Sudan. He said the ministry is working hard to accommodate the returnee pupils to ensure that no segment of the population is left out.


The workshop which is being held at the Juba Grand Hotel is attended by state ministers of education and other stakeholders. It will give the participants an opportunity to assess progress which has been made by sector and also set priorities for the future. The workshop is organized by the ministry in collaboration with UNICEF.


Reported by Gisma Shaban and Lindri Godfrey


Customs training ongoing in Juba

JUBA, 31 May 2011 – A two-week training for twenty five customs officers from the Southern Sudan Customs office is ongoing in Juba.


Considering the importance of the role of customs towards the development of the new independent country, the training aims at enhancing and fostering the capacity of customs officers in Southern Sudan through the latest customs procedures in accordance with international standards.


The course is being conducted through the collaboration of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Seven lecturers from the KRA are facilitating the course.


The training is part of technical support for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Government of Southern Sudan sponsored by JICA. Twelve other customs officers had also been trained in March 2011 at the KRA Training Institute in Mombasa.
 


Ministry of Peace staff trained on peace building

JUBA, 30 May 2011 – Twenty members of staff of the Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) returned to Juba yesterday after attending a short course on peace building in South Africa. The course was sponsored by ACORD, a non-governmental organization.


Addressing the press upon arrival at the Juba International Airport, Mr. Tobias Ateri, the Director for Peace Building Reconciliation at the ministry, who led the delegation, explained that they had been trained in conflict management. He said that they learned how to conduct conflict analysis, mediation and negotiation.


Mr. Ateri also reported that the delegation comprised of ten staff members from the ministry headquarters and a similar number from the states. He said the ten from the states are the peace coordinators in the respective states of Southern Sudan.


He also said that the ministry prioritizes peace building and will champion peace initiatives even after independence on 9 July 2011. He said that peace building requires a lot of resources and planning and expressed confidence that the ministry will do its best. He said they had obtained valuable skills from the short course.


Mr. Ateri appreciated the kind gesture by ACORD in sponsoring the training and expressed hope that other organizations will do likewise. The training was conducted by the Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey Alex


Chinese to build international conference centre in Juba

JUBA, 27 May 2011 – The Chinese government will build a modern international conference centre in Juba after the independence of South Sudan.


This was revealed yesterday by the Chinese Director General of West Asia and North Africa, Chen Xiaodong when he led a delegation to a meeting with the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, Mr. Michael Majok Guandong at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba.


After the meeting, Mr. Majok also announced that the Chinese government will build two modern hospitals; one in Juba and another in Rumbek. They will also build two schools at locations to be identified by the Ministry of Education.


Mr. Majok also announced that the Chinese will establish a model modern farm using new technology. He also said that the delegation had promised to offer scholarships in Medicine and Engineering, among other disciplines, to the South Sudanese.


The Undersecretary also said that the delegation discussed other matters relating to the bilateral and technical relations between the two countries. He also expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for supporting various development projects in the country.


Reported by Miriam Maneno


“We will not be provoked to war”, asserts President Kiir

JUBA, 26 May 2011 – The First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit today declared that South Sudan will not be drawn to war in spite of the provocation by the Khartoum government over the recent invasion of Abyei.


The President stated that the National Congress Party (NCP) government in Khartoum has made many attempts to derail the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). However, he explained, that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the people of South Sudan have been patient and stayed focused on their independence. “We remain committed to peace but this should not be interpreted as cowardice”, he cautioned.


He clarified that the recent invasion of Abyei is not an isolated incident but a component of the NCP’s bigger plan to cause havoc in the South in the hope of derailing its preparations for independence. He said that his government and the people can see through NCP’s machinations and will not be baited by them.


President Kiir said that the issue that is alleged to have triggered the invasion is trivial and should have been dealt with administratively. He said that the NCP over-reacted and has not given a peaceful resolution a chance. He also reported that his attempts to iron out the issue amicably have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. He pointed out that this attitude is a clear indication that the NCP has other agenda other than the issue at hand. He said it is evidence that the invasion was premeditated and that the alleged attack was just an excuse.


He reiterated earlier GOSS position that the issue should have been investigated and resolved in accordance with the normal procedures. He also condemned the unilateral declaration of war by President Bashir without consulting other members of the Presidency. He also said that the partisan use of Radio Omdurman to fan support for the illegal invasion was most unfortunate.

 


President Kiir stresses a point during the media conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


The President also reiterated that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is a disciplined force and did not attack any relief or international agencies during the 21 years of liberation war. He asserted that what the army did not do during the war, it cannot do now during peace.


He also wondered why a national army can descend on its own people with such brutality burning houses, killing civilians and committing all manner of crimes. He also wondered why the NCP is climaxing the CPA period with such atrocities just on the eve of its completion. He called for reason and immediate withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) from Abyei. He also appealed for humanitarian aid for the people who are now destitute and vulnerable to myriad dangers.


President Kiir also reiterated that the Abyei issue is addressed adequately by the Abyei Protocol, which he said, both parties signed. He also enumerated other resolution efforts such as the Abyei Border Committee (ABC) which made proposals about the border as well as the International Court of Arbitration which also ruled on the border issue. He recounted how the NCP has dishonoured all these recommendations and emphasized that this attitude shows that it is not truly committed to the search for peace in Sudan.


The President also emphasized that the land of Abyei belongs to the Dinka Ngok and explained the historical events that led to its annexation to Southern Kordufan in 1905. He said that the other people in Abyei are just guests who should leave Abyei to its rightful owners. He vowed to ensure the people of Abyei get justice however long it takes. He appealed to the international community to intervene and ensure that peace prevails in the region. He also said that no armed forces other than the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) should be allowed in Abyei.


He appealed to the South Sudanese to remain calm and concentrate on preparations for independence which is coming in just over a month. He urged them to show restraint as they have done in the past for the sake of peace.


President Kiir made this remarks today when he addressed the media at the Presidential Palace (J 1) in Juba. He was accompanied by several cabinet ministers and other senior government officers.


Reported by Matata Safi and Hayat Deng


Dr. Machar pledges government support for local authorities

JUBA, 26 May 2011 – The Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny yesterday assured local authority leaders of government support.


Dr. Machar also reiterated the government’s commitment to decentralization. He said that decentralized governance will remain pivotal to the government’s efforts to take services closest to the people and realize its policy to “take cities to the villages”. He appealed to the State Legislative Assemblies to fast track the legislation of the Local Government Act so as to ensure it is in place by the Independence Day.


Dr. Machar also underscored the role of the local authorities in facilitating peaceful coexistence by building bridges across ethnic, religious or gender boundaries. “We have enormous nation building tasks ahead of us; and this can only be achieved if we embrace mutual understanding and work hand in hand for peaceful coexistence and reconciliation as we move towards our independence, come 9th July”, he emphasized.

 

He also said that GOSS will equip the local authorities adequately to enable them to deliver services effectively at the grassroots. He also underscored the significance of the maintenance of peace for development and investment in the country. The local authorities’ leaders, on their part, assured the government of their unwavering support of the current leadership and highlighted their need for capacity building.


The Vice President made these remarks when he addressed the leaders during a workshop for Councils and Local Authorities at the South Sudan Hotel in Juba. The meeting was organized by the Office of the President, Local Government Board and development partners.


Reported by Ater Garang Ariath


Swedish government to continue supporting South Sudan

JUBA, 26 May 2011 – The government of Sweden has promised to continue supporting development programmes in South Sudan.


This was announced by a Swedish delegation led by Mr. Michael Sahlin, the special envoy of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the CPA in Sudan, when it met H.E. Deng Alor Koul, the minister for Regional Cooperation, Government of Southern Sudan in his office in Juba yesterday.

 


H.E. Alor (right) with members of the Swedish delegation.


After the meeting, H.E. Alor explained that Sweden is one of the major development partners of South Sudan and has supported many humanitarian projects in the country. He also explained that the purpose of the visit was for the delegation to assess firsthand the thematic areas of development which Sweden can support after South Sudan’s independence.


Mr. Sahlin said that the visit is important in helping the Swedish government to correctly align its development support with the priorities of the new country.


Reported by Miriam Maneno


Abyei community condemns SAF invasion

JUBA, 24 May 2011 – The members of the Abyei Community in Juba have condemned the invasion of their home town and demanded immediate withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces from there. They have also called on the international community to intervene and stop what they described as genocide instigated by the National Congress Party (NCP). Click here for the full communiqué.


GOSS denounces attacks on Abyei by SAF

JUBA, 22 May 2011 – The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today denounced the attacks on Abyei and stated that it stands by the provisions of the Abyei Protocol on the fate of the region and will not be drawn to the sideshows by the National Congress Party (NCP).


Responding to the latest attacks on the area by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the unilateral dissolution of its administration and sacking of the administrators, the official GOSS spokesperson who is also the minister for Information, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said that even though the NCP seems to be in a fighting mood the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) will not be dragged into war.


He reiterated the position of the SPLA spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer, that the SPLA has no presence in Abyei. He explained that the SAF has attacked the area and can now attest to the fact. He said that had there been SPLA forces in Abyei, the SAF would not have merely walked into the town and captured it without a fight as they did yesterday.


Dr. Marial also regretted any injuries that may have been caused on the members of the UNMIS unit as a result of the confusion caused by the unexplained shot. He said that such mistakes occur in similar situations elsewhere. He said that the SPLA has been friendly to the UNMIS unit and has never attacked it before and will remain so.


He appealed to the UNMIS force and the international community to take charge of the situation in Abyei and protect the civilians. He said that the SAF soldiers have run amok in the town and are looting or destroying property besides committing other crimes against humanity. He also said that the innocent people have been displaced and are now vulnerable to diseases and other atrocities coupled with the hostile weather. He appealed to the international community to treat the situation with the urgency and seriousness it deserves before it deteriorates further.

 


Dr Marial (right) addresses the media accompanied by Col. Aguer (left).
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Dr. Marial also wondered why President Omar al-Bashir decided to unilaterally dissolve the Abyei administration without consulting other members of the Presidency as required by the CPA and the Interim Constitution. He said such decisions would normally be made by consensus by the President of the Republic; His First Vice President, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit; and Second Vice President, Ali Osman Taha. He wondered what constitutional authority President al-Bashir used in dissolving the Abyei administration.


The minister also explained that the way the SAF is ruining Abyei is a clear indication that there are no Misseriya in the region otherwise it would not commit such atrocities on the harmless people it is supposed to protect. He said that what the soldiers are doing in Abyei is not even acceptable under the Sharia law. Dr. Marial also appealed for humanitarian support to the area residents who have now been displaced.


Dr. Marial also assured the South Sudanese that the situation will be managed. He appealed to them to remain calm and concentrate on preparations for independence. He also clarified that the ongoing talks between the NCP and the SPLM on post-referendum arrangements in Addis Ababa will continue and will not be derailed by the latest incident. He also reiterated the SPLM’s commitment to peaceful resolution of the outstanding issues.


“We want to maintain cordial relations with the North but now we recognize the fact that we have an unpredictable partner”, he said.
 


“SPLA did not ambush SAF in Abyei”, spokesperson

JUBA, 22 May 2011 – Col. Philip Aguer, the spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has denied allegations that its members had ambushed a Sudan Armed Force (SAF) unit withdrawing from Abyei.


Col. Aguer explained that a gun-shot at the SAF, whose source has not been established to date, could not have been fired by the SPLA who were part of the UNMIS unit escorting the SAF unit from Abyei. He also explained that this incident is not the real cause of the invasion of the area by the SAF. He said that the national government and army seems to have decided to invade the area and was just looking for an excuse to attack. He explained that it is possible that even the said withdrawal may have been planned to evacuate the SAF component of the Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) from Abyei in readiness for the attack.


He said that ordinarily the real source of the shot would have been investigated and established after which appropriate actions would have been taken to remedy the situation. He explained that the fact that the SAF has unilaterally declared war in Abyei can only be understood against the bigger picture.

 


A section of the media and members of the Abyei community follow the proceedings of the press conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Col. Aguer also explained that the SAF seems to have decided to take Abyei by force since the beginning of this year. He cited the SAF’s alleged mobilization of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) to attack and displace civilians along Abyei and Unity borders; movement of the Janjaweed force from Darfur to the borders of Southern Kordufan, Abyei and South Sudan; militarization of the borders with heavy mechanized units and additional divisions from Rodoom, Muglad and Defra, as some of the indicators of the premeditated attacks on Abyei.


He explained that the SAF is arming militia groups associated with Peter Gadet and George Athor to destabilize South Sudan and join it (SAF) to “liberate” Abyei. He said that some of the militia have also been given landmines with which they are now maiming and killing civilians.


Col Aguer also stated that the SPLA has no presence in Abyei. He explained that only the SPLA JIUs were deployed to Abyei as part of the CPA. Thus, he said, the SAF cannot claim to have defeated the SPLA in Abyei. “We [wish] to inform the public that the SPLA was not defeated in Abyei...what has happened is that Khartoum had planned a coup against the Abyei Administration and used a full division to attack”, he said.


He stated that the SPLA has been patient and remained calm against all manner of provocations from the SAF. He said that these attacks will not distract the SPLA and South Sudanese from concentrating on the preparations for their independence in July 2011.


Col. Aguer made these remarks today when he addressed a press conference at the Ministry of Information, Government of Southern Sudan, headquarters in Juba.


SSRDF to visit bio-gas projects in Uganda

JUBA, 20 May 2011 – The Southern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund (SSRDF) will send a team of eleven delegates led by its chairperson H.E. Alikaya Samson Aligo to Uganda to tour bio-gas project sites in the country.


The SSRDF has been working on bio-gas project proposals in partnership with international organizations such as the African Union (AU). Therefore, the main purpose of the tour is to expose the delegates to the management of bio-gas projects so as to empower them to replicate the same here in South Sudan. The delegates will also use the skills obtained through the tour to coordinate the rollout of bio-gas projects in all the ten states of South Sudan.


The SSRDF is the government’s agency that solicits and manages funds for reconstruction and development projects all over the country. Particularly, the SSRDF works to alleviate poverty in the rural areas through projects implemented in partnership with community-based organizations and the civil society.


It also works in collaboration with Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) to coordinate the funding of hygiene, water and sanitation, and income generating projects. The agency also conducts development sensitization outreach all over the country. In March 2011, a combined team of SSRDF and BRAC visited Warrap, Tonj South, Twic East, Turale, Wunrok, Malakal, Mundri, Magwi, and Torit.


The delegation leaves for Uganda tomorrow and will be there for about three weeks. They return home on 13 June 2011.


Reported by Achudi Ukidi


Southern Sudan Development Plan Conference ongoing in Juba

JUBA, 20 May 2011 – A two-day conference to deliberate the South Sudan Development plan is ongoing in Juba.


While opening the conference yesterday, H.E. David Deng Athobei, the minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) said that it will discuss ways of developing a strong, stable and prosperous South Sudan. He said that the conference will also discuss the establishment of effective institutions capable of stimulating and managing economic development in South Sudan.


The minister also emphasized that South Sudan is implementing an economic system which prioritizes rural development. He explained that this economic approach is part of the vision of the late Dr. John Garang of “taking cities to the villages”. He said the economic priorities include infrastructure development and improvement of social services such as basic education and primary health care.


H.E. Athorbei said that the government is keen to harness the natural resources the country is endowed with. He said that it is sad that in spite of its rich natural resources, South Sudan still remains one of the poorest countries in the world. He challenged all the stakeholders and the people in general to maximize the benefits of the natural resources.


The participants urged the government and other stakeholders to guarantee investor protection, ready access to investment information, and development of requisite investment infrastructure such as electricity. They also raised the need to streamline issues relating to land-ownership, taxation and trade policies. The participants identified agriculture, construction (roads and housing) and tourism as some of the sectors in the country which have vast investment potential.


The conference is attended by GOSS ministers, state governors and ministers, representatives of the international community, African Development Bank, United Nations, World Bank, Joint Donor Team, civil society, private sector as well as local and international investors.


Reported by Clement Aturjong Kuot


Southern African leaders expected to grace independence celebrations

JUBA, 19 May 2011 – Heads of governments of South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and Zambia have pledged to come to Juba to grace the South Sudan independence celebrations in July.


This was announced by the minister for Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, today at the Juba International Airport when he arrived from an extensive trip to these countries where he had delivered a special message from President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

 


Dr. Marial addressing journalists on arrival at the Juba International Airport.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


“It was a pleasure for me to carry congratulatory messages on a successful referendum from the leaders as well as good wishes for independence”, he said.


He appealed to the citizens to prepare to receive and host guests during the celebrations. “It is our duty as Southern Sudanese to receive the guests with open hands and hearts, when they come for the celebrations”, he said.


Dr. Marial also called on all the citizens to maintain law and order and display good behaviour and extend warm welcome to the guests who will join them to celebrate their independence.


Reported by Rosemary Njeri Chacha