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On S. Sudan, African PR Tells ICP Sanctions Depend on Reservations, AU & IGAD

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- After the South Sudan peace agreement was not signed by President Salva Kiir, who still has reservations, Inner City Press on August 18 (and August 19) asked UN Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci for the UN's response, and what it could at least say about fighting in the country, see below.

  Inner City Press put online the August 17 Compromise Agreement, as obtained, here.

  On August 25, Ellen Loj, the head of the UN Mission in the country UNMISS told the UN Security Council that Kiir is expected to sign the agreement on August 26. How might that impact the pending draft resolution on sanctions and an arms embargo?

  An African Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that while there would be sanctions if Kiir does not sign at all, there "might" be sanctions if Kiir raises reservations. After Inner City Press tweeted this, there came more: it would depend on what type of reservations Kiir raises, and in any event, the annexes to the sanctions draft would have to go to the African Union and IGAD. We'll see.

  Loj said, "a Mini-Summit has been called for tomorrow, where the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, in the interest of peace, is expected to sign the proposed agreement. Despite this hopefully positive development, the security situation on the ground has been volatile and tense. Fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region has remained intense and further escalation of hostilities in southern Unity State has had increasingly severe consequences for the civilian population. Major offensives conducted by the SPLA and its allied militias into Opposition-held areas have led to further deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation since April, and have resulted in numerous reports of grave human rights violations. Most recently, on August 19, fighting occurred between SPLA and Opposition forces around Leer town, with both sides trading accusations of having initiated the attack.

  Loj spoke of discouraging some from entering the UN's "protection of civilian" camps, without addressing the blocking of civilians fleeing fighting from the UN's Yambio camp, which Inner City Press has repeatedly asked about. Nor did she address if UNMISS' radio station, Radio Miraya, kept rigt on broadcasting amid a strike by media in the country to protect the assassination of journalist Peter Julius Moi.

  On August 18, Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesperson Maestracci, "do you have any comment on, or does the mission have any comment on, Salva Kiir having said at the airport on his way to Addis that 'if anybody among journalists does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time'?"

  By August 21, after South Sudanese journalist Peter Julius Moi was assassinated in Juba, Inner City Press asked the next UN Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko this question, video here:

Inner City Press: In South Sudan,  virtually all media there, the Union of Journalists in South Sudan and the Association for Media Development in South Sudan, have agreed to a media blackout in mourning and as a protest of the murder of the journalist Peter Julius Moi.  They’re saying that UNMISS’ Radio Miraya is going to keep broadcasting.  Is that the case?  Is Miraya part of sort of the media of South, what’s the position of the UN on this?

Associate Spokesperson:  I’m not aware, but I will look into that.

  Eight hours later and counting, there has been no answer. Video here.

  On both August 18 and 19 when Inner City Press asked, UN spokesperson Maestracci declined to confirm or deny any of the fighting in the country -- a pattern for UNMISS under UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous. On August 19, Maestracci told Inner City Press, "As soon as I have [information], I will give it to you." None came: also a pattern.

  But Inner City Press sources tell it of ongoing clashes in Upper Nile, in Pageri, East Equatoria, still ongoing. The Juba – Nimule road, the only "proper tarmac road" in the country, remains closed; limited communications within the fragmented phone networks confirm that civilians are being targeted.

   West Equatorial Governor Joseph Bakasoro is still detained.

  Also, here is UNMISS sit-rep for insiders, not meant for the public, apparently:

“Following attacks in Pageri on 18 Aug 2015 host country security forces have advised that there is still military operation in the vicinity of Pageri town (30 kms North of Nimule).
UN Security advises that:
·        UN/INGO travels on the Juba - Nimule road are currently restricted.
·        UN Security will re-assess the situation in the next 24 hours and will advise accordingly.
·        In the interim all missions should be cleared with UN Security until further notice.
·        Additionally, UN/INGO missions into Pageri are to be suspended until a clearer picture is established as there are reports of heavy host country security forces deployed in Pageri.”

  ... This is how things are at UN Headquarters and elsewhere in the system, especially in UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous. The Free UN Coalition for Access is challenging this.

Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, Aug 17, online via Inner City P... by Matthew Russell Lee

  On August 19 after UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson briefed the Council behind closed doors - he stopped and told Inner City Press is was not a short consultation, only a scheduling misunderstanding - he stopped on the way out and spoke again.
  Inner City Press asked Eliasson the question the UN Spokesperson has for two days declined to answer: "Have the two sides started fighting again?"

  Eliasson to his credit answered: "There are reports, they are very worrying. And this is also why, it is important if there is this progress towards signing of an agreement, that it is accompanied by the need for a ceasefire. A diplomatic solution cannot be found if there is not a de escalation."

  Moments later New Zealand's Ambassador Gerard van Boheman stopped and spoke about the US submitted draft resolution that the US' Susan Rice had alluded to the day before, that that it "does deal with an arms embargo also posits additional sanctions, if the agreement is not signed. I think there’s general recognition that the situation in South Sudan is not good, there’s a recognition that the IGAD and that the IGAD plus countries have been doing all they can. We want to be able to support their efforts.”
  Ambassador van Boheman said that “it’s quite a technical resolution. So I think it will take quite a bit of work to get everyone on the same page.”  Could that timing be related to the 15 days from August 17 deadline for Salva Kiir to sign?

  Inner City Press also asked van Bohemen about Yemen, but that's another story.

 On South Sudan, from the UN's August 18 transcript:

on South Sudan, can the Mission there, or do you have anything on reported, an attack by the Government on the opposition in a place called Imatong?  And do you have any comment on, or does the mission have any comment on, Salva Kiir having said at the airport on his way to Addis that "if anybody among journalists does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time"?  It's a comment that CPJ has criticized, and I wonder if the mission has seen it and what they think of it.

Associate Spokesperson:  So on Imatong — is that what it's called?

Correspondent:  Yeah.

Associate Spokesperson:  I actually do not have a statement.  On South Sudan and the comments on the media that were made by Salva Kiir, yes, the Mission told us they were very concerned about, over the curbing of the press freedom in South Sudan, including recent closure of media houses and threats to journalists.  And they've also reiterated the importance of independent, free and pluralistic press.

Question:  Is the Deputy… I just wanted to ask one thing.  I saw that the Deputy Secretary-General's schedule says appointments are internal.  Did he come back from Addis?  Is there some way…

Associate Spokesperson:  He is on his way back.

  On August 19, Inner City Press asked Maestracci again - still no information on Imatong, nor Upper Nile, Pageri or other attacks since. From the August 19 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about South Sudan.  I’d asked you yesterday about whether UNMISS could confirm reports of fighting and now there’s increased reports of fighting and counter charges by the Government and the opposition of fighting in Upper Nile State, also near the Ugandan border.  So I’m wondering if UNMISS, given its presence in the country, it seems important to know is this taking place and if so which side is instigating it?

Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci:  We’re checking and we’re waiting for an answer.  As soon as I have one, I will give it to you.

  Nothing was given, but see above.

 Inner City Press asked DSG Eliasson of reports of fighting in South Sudan, he acknowledged the reports, Periscope video here. We'll have more on this.


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