South Sudan faces crisis in forming new coalition government

A new report by the International Crisis Group warned on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019 that South Sudan was “barreling toward a crisis” and could slide back into fighting. (FILE/AP/Mulugeta Ayene)
Updated 04 November 2019

South Sudan faces crisis in forming new coalition government

  • The new report said the country’s warring parties aren’t ready to form a coalition government on Nov. 12
  • The fragile peace deal signed more than one year ago has been marked by delays

NAIROBI, Kenya: War-torn South Sudan is “barreling toward a crisis” and could slide back into fighting, warned the International Crisis Group on Monday.
The new report said the country’s warring parties aren’t ready to form a coalition government on Nov. 12, when opposition leader Riek Machar is planned to return and once again serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy, as part of a power sharing agreement to pull the country out of a five-year civil war that killed almost 400,000 people.
“A unity government formed next week would be at immediate risk of bloody collapse,” Alan Boswell senior analyst for the International Crisis group told The Associated Press. Diplomats should focus their pressure on resolving the remaining issues needed to create a viable government, he said.
The fragile peace deal signed more than one year ago has been marked by delays, a lack of funding and questionable political will. Key issues including security arrangements and the number of states in the country have yet to be resolved and fighting continues in parts of the country. Last week three volunteer aid workers were killed and one went missing when clashes broke out between armed groups in Central Equatoria state.
Machar has said he won’t return for the formation of the government next week. During a visit to the capital, Juba, in October, he called for the formation of the new government to be delayed for months until resolutions can be found to outstanding issues, specifically security arrangements. The opposition said the peace deal would be violated if the government moved ahead without Machar.
“If President Salva Kiir goes ahead and forms the government unilaterally, then it will not be a unity government, it would essentially be a new, illegal regime,” said Mabior Garang de Mabior spokesman for the opposition.
In order for the new government to be formed at least 41,500 soldiers from both the government army and opposition rebels must be housed in barracks, trained and unified into one national army, including a 3,000-member VIP protection force. The number of states in South Sudan must be agreed upon.
But the government said a delay, such as urged by Machar, is unlikely. “We are implementing the peace agreement and if we’re implementing the peace agreement all the international actors should be working toward making the formation of the government possible, not by trying to project a situation that would aggravate things,” said spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny.
The international community is also pushing for the November deadline. On a visit to Juba last month by the UN Security Council, South Africa’s ambassador to the UN, Jerry Matthew Matjila, said any outstanding issues can be resolved by the new coalition government. The United States has said it will reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan if the deadline isn’t met.
The International Crisis Group is cautioning against pushing parties to come together before they’re ready, or risk a repeat of 2016 when the first peace deal collapsed, fighting erupted in Juba and Machar fled the country on foot.
“The demand that Kiir and Machar form a government, come what may, is perilous,” said the report. Even if the leaders agree to share power, ongoing disputes over security arrangements and state boundaries would poison the new administration, potentially leading to its collapse, it said. The group is urging for immediate high-level mediation ahead of next week’s deadline.
The East African regional bloc mediating the peace deal has invited parties to Ethiopia on November 8th to try to find a way forward, said a statement by the opposition on Saturday.
At least one South Sudan expert thinks the agreement might be too late to salvage.
The failure to form a unity government would be the “final wake-up call” that a power-sharing deal will never bring peace to South Sudan, said Payton Knopf, senior adviser to the United States Institute of Peace.
“The US and its western partners should then take concrete steps to stand with the South Sudanese people in recognizing what they have known for a long time: Salva Kiir and his regime are not legitimate and neither he nor Riek Machar will ever be part of any viable political settlement,” he said.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 59 min 1 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.