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NEW YORK - 27 Nov 2019

South Sudan government recruits new fighters: report

Photo: A soldier carries boxes with forms delivered by members of Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC)
Photo: A soldier carries boxes with forms delivered by members of Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC)

A new report says National Security Service has recruited a force of at least 10,000 fighters from communities in the former Warrap State, outside the terms of the peace deal.

The report by United Nations panel of experts on South Sudan stated that the incumbent government has demonstrated limited willingness to compromise over issues related to the transitional security arrangements, the reunification of the army and the number of states and their boundaries.

A key deadline to form a unity government was missed on November 12 after opposition leader Riek Machar complained over unresolved issues in the agreement.

The United States on Monday announced it was recalling its ambassador to South Sudan for consultations as the Trump administration re-evaluates its relationship with the world’s youngest nation. The United States, the top humanitarian donor to South Sudan, said it was frustrated by rival leaders for failing to form the unity government as scheduled.

The UN report says the signatories to the peace agreement have not demonstrated sufficient political will, trust and urgency to compromise on outstanding issues to facilitate the legitimate formation of the unity government.

The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) have not cantoned their fighters or supplied sufficient forces for the necessary unified forces, according to the UN monitors.

The report also says Uganda has violated the UN arms embargo on South Sudan, adding that the panel has corroborated evidence of the presence of Ugandan military forces in various areas of Yei River State, including a deployment in October 2019.

The report further said both government and opposition forces "have continued to generate revenues through the illegal harvest, sale and taxation of teak and mahogany."

"The Panel received credible information indicating that Major General Moses Lokujo of SPLA-IO division 2B had been directly involved in the taxation of teak and mahogany illegally harvested in Liwolo, Kariwa, Kendire, Kala, Ajio, Lora Manglotore, Bori, Lowili and Katire payams, which are areas under his control. He has also been active in the transit of logs to the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda," the report explained.

The UN experts pointed out that the regional backing in support of the peace process in South Sudan has not been institutionalized, resulting in policies that leave room for the signatories to the agreement, in particular the government, to take advantage of the inconsistent mediation.

Ethiopia, the current chair of IGAD, and Kenya, the top candidate to succeed it, have not demonstrated sufficient political and diplomatic will to consistently support the peace process, the report says.

The experts expressed concern at the misappropriation and diversion of public resources and financial impropriety in South Sudan, saying they have consistently identified how the competition for natural and public resources threatens peace and security.

The UN report says there has been a continued lack of transparency in the oil sector and that the oil ministry has not ended the practice of pre-sale financing arrangements for South Sudanese oil, despite the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund.

The panel pointed out that it has continued to gather and examine information regarding the implementation by Member States of asset freeze measures that target the designated individuals in South Sudan.

The report disclosed that UN monitors had identified three commercial entities with accounts in a Kenyan bank related to Malek Reuben Riak Rengu as well as three commercial entities with accounts in a Kenyan bank and one entity with an account in a South Sudanese bank related to General Paul Malong Awan.

“The Panel also addressed correspondence to Egypt, Kenya, the Sudan and Uganda, through their Permanent Missions to the United Nations, regarding the implementation of asset freeze measures. During the current mandate, the Panel has received no responses,” the report says.

The UN investigators said neighbouring countries failed to enforce sanctions on South Sudan, including an arms embargo and travel bans.

According to the report, General Paul Malong, a former army chief turned rebel commander, travelled from Nairobi to Johannesburg, South Africa, on 2 July 2019 on a Kenya Airways flight.

It added that General Gabriel Jok Riak, the incumbent army chief, participated in the East African Community military games and cultural events, which were held in Nairobi between 11 and 26 August 2019.

President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and a handful of other opposition groups signed a peace deal in September 2018. The rival leaders had been unable to create a unified army and determine the number of states since the deal was signed.

On November 7, the parties agreed to give themselves another 100 days beyond the November 12 deadline to form the transitional government.