South Sudan: Basic Information on David Yauyau’s Rebel Movement

The rebellion led by David Yauyau in South Sudan’s Jonglei State has attracted some press coverage lately; here I’ll try to provide some background sources about Yauyau and his movement, as well as some key dates. Yauyau has rebelled twice – from May 2010 to June 2011, and from April 2012 to the present. Small Arms Survey published a backgrounder (.pdf) in 2011 on the first rebellion. The backgrounder analyzes the rebellion partly in terms of internal politics within the Murle community, to which Yauyau belongs. Reports by the Sudan Tribune (April 2012) and Reuters (September 2012) offer information on the second rebellion and its place within the broader constellation of rebel movements South Sudan faces. From the Reuters story:

Yau Yau, thought to have limited military experience, first rebelled in May 2010 after standing as an independent candidate in the state’s parliamentary election for the Gumuruk-Boma constituency. He lost to the SPLM [Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the ruling party in South Sudan] candidate by a big margin.

During his first revolt, he gained support amongst the youth because he was seen as a champion of Murle interests. But he also lost backing when he accepted a South Sudan government amnesty in June 2011, allegedly in exchange for a house, cars and cash, according to Murle involved in the negotiations.

He defected to Khartoum in April while supposedly being treated in a Kenyan hospital, and later went back to Jonglei with 19 men, arriving in July, Murle leader Konyi said.

According to a radio station called Radio Yau Yau, which the Juba government believes is broadcasting from Khartoum, his rebels are fighting in reaction to abuses committed during the disarmament program, especially the rape of Murle women.

VOA has more on Yauyau’s recruitment among Murle youth in the wake of government disarmament campaigns in Jonglei State in March 2012.

In April of this year, continued attacks by the rebels seemed to indicate that they were rejecting a government offer of amnesty. In an interview with VOA this week, Yauyau said that the rebels want the government to create a new state for minority ethnic groups like the Murle:

“This time around, we are fighting for the people of South Sudan, the minority communities like the Murle and the others…They don’t have a voice… they don’t have rights to live in the land. We don’t have a voice in the government. We are struggling together with them and we’ve lost some of our sons.”

Here are the dates of some battles between Yauyau’s forces and the SPLM’s Army, the SPLA:

Coup Rumors and Reports from Eritrea and South Sudan

Eritrea

Martin Plaut:

At around 10am on 21 January a contingent of Eritrean troops stormed the state television station. They rounded up the staff – all employees of the Ministry of Information – and forced the director of Eritrea TV, Asmellash Abraha Woldu, to read a statement calling for:
the freeing of all prisoners of conscience
the implementation of the Eritrean constitution
and stating that the ministry of information was under their control.
Almost immediately the television broadcast was interrupted, and remained off the air for several hours, before resuming its broadcasts with pre-recorded material. This is about all that is clear.

Al Jazeera:

The small country in the horn of Africa remains isolated and is often described as repressed.

With thousands of political prisoners, a constitution that remains in limbo, and a president who has failed to keep promises of reform, analysts say more challenges are inevitable.

The BBC has more reporting, while Think Africa Press takes a look at Eritrea’s present and its possible future. Jay Ufelder, meanwhile, reminds us that there’s more to events like these than the equation “poverty+repression=coups.”

South Sudan

The BBC:

South Sudan has denied to the BBC that the dismissal of more than 30 top army officers has anything to do with a rumour about a coup attempt.

The country’s information minister said the changes were been made to bring younger people into top positions.

On Monday, all six deputy chiefs of staff were removed and 29 major generals were dismissed.

It is the biggest shake-up of the military since South Sudan became independent in July 2011.

More here and here is the official document from the Government of South Sudan, via their website.

What do you make of these events?

After Latest Sudan-South Sudan Agreement, Southern Oil Exports May Resume Soon

Sudan and South Sudan have suffered economic pain in the last two years – Sudan, due to the loss of the South and its oil in 2011; and the South, due to the shutdown of oil production it began in late January of this year as a protest measure against Khartoum’s demands regarding oil transit fees. The shutdown in the South has, of course, also affected the north, and the economic picture I’m painting here is extremely simplified – more economic information about Sudan is available here and here, and more information about South Sudan is available here.

Economic pain has continued in part because of political conflict. Since South Sudan’s independence, the two countries have disputed issues including border demarcation, security, and oil revenue sharing. In August of this year, Sudan and South Sudan came to a tentative agreement on oil, and signed a deal covering oil and border security on September 26. Yet security issues remained unresolved, and the South did not restart its oil production on November 15 as it had planned.

On December 1, Pagan Amum, the South’s chief negotiator, met with Sudanese officials in Khartoum. The meeting had two important outcomes. First, the South Sudanese now plan to resume oil exports through Sudan within a few weeks (although returning production to pre-shutdown levels could take up to one year). Second, the two sides have agreed to stop supporting rebel movements within each other’s territory; the north is particularly concerned about the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North or SPLM-N, who have fought government forces in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, along the new border between Sudan and South Sudan. AFP has more on the new agreement and the background to it.

The success of these agreements, of course, will depend on their implementation. Meanwhile, other contentious issues remain, including determining when and whether the territory of Abyei will hold a referendum about joining the South or the north.

For Arabic readers, summaries of the remarks of Pagan Amum and Sudanese presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi are available, respectively, here and here.

Sudan, Uganda, and Rebels

Sudan and Uganda have been trading accusations this year that each side is supporting rebel groups against the other. In April, Uganda charged that Sudan was backing the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group whose rebellion began in Uganda in the 1980s but has since metastasized into a regional problem. Uganda’s Chief of Defense Forces Aronda Nyakairima stated that Joseph Kony, the LRA’s leader, was now operating out of Western Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan near the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni even weighed in, warning Sudan not to support the LRA.

Sudan fired back with allegations that Uganda was supporting rebel groups against the Sudanese government, allegations that Uganda denied. Uganda does allow Sudanese rebel groups to operate in its territory, though. On October 4, rebel groups in the Sudanese Revolutionary Front coalition held a ceremony in Uganda’s capital Kampala where they signed a document “detailing how Sudan should be governed once the regime of President Omer Al-Bashir is brought down.” Fighting continued in Sudan this week as “Sudanese air force and ground troops attacked positions of rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North on Wednesday in an attempt to halt a rebel advance on the city of Kadugli, South Kordofan’s capital.” The SPLM-N is a member of the Revolutionary Front.

Amid violence inside Sudan and diplomatic tensions between Kampala and Khartoum, Uganda and Sudan are attempting a rapprochement. Sudan Tribune reports:

Sudan and Uganda agreed to reactivate a joint committee between the two countries to discuss contentious issues and improve strained relations, a Sudanese official said .

Salah El-Din Wansi, state ministry for foreign affairs told the official news agency SUNA on Monday evening following his return from Kamala that the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, directed to reactivate a joint committee to tackle ways to improve bilateral relations and to ease tensions.

[...]

The two countries held different meetings in the past but they failed to settle the issues of rebel groups as Kampala insisted that Sudan should help to arrest Joseph Kony. But Khartoum kept saying they have no contact with the notorious rebel leader.

Sudan and Uganda made an effort at reconciliation in May, but it seems to have yielded little progress. We’ll see if this time is different. The outcome will have implications for a number of issues, including the hunt for Joseph Kony and the trajectory of negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan (of which Uganda is a major ally).

Details on the Sudan-South Sudan Economic and Security Agreements

In August, Sudan and South Sudan reached a provisional agreement on oil revenue sharing, one of the issues that has divided the two sides since South Sudan’s independence last July. Yesterday, the two sides signed deals on trade and security. AP gives an overview:

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan signed economic and security agreements Thursday that will allow a resumption of oil exports from South Sudan. The two countries also reached deals for a demilitarized zone between their borders and a cessation of all hostilities that brought the countries to the brink of all-out war just a few months ago.

[...]

The security agreement was signed by the two countries’ defense ministers, while lead negotiators inked economic and trade agreements. AU mediators say the two sides also signed a deal to let their citizens freely move between, reside in and work in both countries.

On the security front, Reuters adds,

Under the border deal, the countries agreed to pull back their armies 10 km (6 miles) from the frontier. Special arrangements will be made for a strategic strip of land called Mile-14, which is important to Arab tribes allied to Sudan.

The Sudan Tribune gives additional details:

Beside the security arrangements agreement, the other seven deals include the following: an Agreement on Banking, which aims to enhance cooperation in the management of monetary policy, an Agreement on Border Issues, which deals with the demarcation of common borders, an Agreement on Post-Service Benefits, which addresses the situation of workers who served on both sides of the borders before secession, an Agreement on Trade, which mainly deals with regulation of trade, an Agreement on Certain Economic Matters, which deals with assets, liabilities and debt, an Agreement on Oil, which deals with the management of oil resources and exportation, and an Agreement of Nationals, which grants citizens of both countries the four freedoms of movement, ownership, work and residence in the other country.

The agreements are also notable for what they leave out. Missing is a deal on the fate of Abyei, a territory that was supposed to hold its own referendum on whether to join (north) Sudan or South Sudan in 2011, but did not. The African Union has floated the idea of a referendum again, though as Reuters notes “similar votes have failed in the past because the sides cannot agree on who is qualified to vote.” Five other border areas – Hofrat Al-Nuhas, Mile 14, Kaka Al-Tigaria, Al-Muqaines, and Goda – are also disputed.

Press outlets are characterizing yesterday’s agreements as a partial success. The Economist notes the balancing act both sides strive to strike as they deal with international pressures to make deals, and domestic pressures to avoid major concessions. The Economist concludes,

The resumption of oil production will soothe international concerns, but the UN and Western governments have routinely overestimated the industry’s ability to bind north and south. The outlines of the oil deal had been clear for several months; it was the border demarcation that proved, and continues to prove, much trickier.

Reuters writes, “The border deal…will throw both ailing economies a lifeline and prevent, for now, a resumption of the fighting that broke out along the frontier in April.”

What comes next? AP has details on the timeline for the resumption of South Sudanese oil exports, while Reuters has a forward-looking assessment from US Special Envoy Princeton Lyman:

Lyman…told Reuters the AU should now concentrate on brokering a ceasefire between Khartoum and SPLM-North rebels, who are fighting in two states on the Sudanese side of the border.

“This has to be a very high priority. If they keep fighting it will be probably hard to secure the borders,” he said.

Reactions also came from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, who issued statements praising the agreements. AP provides comments from a number of experts.

Nile Politics in a Post-Meles Era

Conflict and tension between upstream and downstream countries over the use of the Nile River has been going on for years. But changes in leadership in the Nile region could affect the course of the struggle. Egypt, the leader of the downstream bloc, and Ethiopia, the leader of the upstream bloc, both have new heads of state. At a recent meeting between Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi shows, parts of the status quo will remain in place, but other parts may be set to change.

Kenya’s Africa Review reports (Kenya is one of the upstream countries):

In what must be construed as a warning to the other Nile waters sharing countries, both President Bashir and his Egyptian counterpart reaffirmed their countries “identical position” in regards to the water dispute.

Mr Morsy’s spokesperson did not hide the fact that the issue of the Nile Water is “an Egyptian national security issue”. The two countries receive 55 billion ( Egypt) and 18.5 billion ( Sudan) cubic meters of water annually thanks to a series of agreements that date back to 1929 and drawn by Britain when it was the main colonising power over much of the continent.

The upstream countries maintain that these agreements, which also give the two countries veto powers over projects deemed as “harmful’ to their interests, where [sic] signed during the “colonial era, and should be rewritten to allow countries to equally share in the river’s economic potential.”

One of Egypt long standing objectives over the body of water is that it would never consider the calls for a decrease in its annual share, in fact it would actively seek to increase it – already both Egypt and Sudan control approximately 87 per cent of the water resources of the Nile.

Back in 2010 then Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, following the signing of the the Cooperative Framework Agreement water treaty by Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, flatly stated Egypt’s annual share would not be affected.

That view has pretty much remained unchanged in the eyes of the newly elected government and whilst it also seeks to increase that share, it has been at pains to add that this is “through cooperation and coordination with the Nile Basin countries”, not unilaterally.

In the midst of continuity – Egypt and Sudan against the upstream countries – there is also some change, at least in the diplomatic tone Egypt takes. Africa Review writes that “President Morsy’s government has gone on a charm offensive with its African counterparts,” adding, “What steps Khartoum and Cairo will take is still unclear, but the signs do point to a more conciliatory tone though not to the extent where they will agree nor accept the demands of the other Nile Basin countries unconditionally.”

Read about Morsi’s July visit to Ethiopia here.

How will the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who had ruled Ethiopia since 1991, affect Nile politics? Meles’ most ambitious move on the Nile issue as of late was the Grand Renaissance Dam, projected to be one of the largest dams in the world. Construction began in April, and by late May 10% of the dam had been completed, with the project set to finish in 2018. So far, it looks as though the project will remain on track even without Meles there to oversee it. The International Monetary Fund recently suggestion that Ethiopia slow down the project, but the government refused:

Ethiopia’s government won’t reschedule construction of the Grand Renaissance dam, said Communications Minister Bereket Simon, who co-chairs a fundraising committee for the plant.

“It was a well-considered plan and it’s one of the mega projects for which the government commits itself unconditionally,” Bereket said in a phone interview [September 13].

The Grand Renaissance Dam has caused substantial alarm in Egypt, which fears the project may reduce its water supply. Experts project that by 2017, even Egypt’s current share of the waters will be insufficient for its population’s needs. Egypt may attempt, then, to frustrate the Renaissance Dam project by “lobby[ing] foreign donors and international organisations to withhold financing for the dam because of the adverse impacts on its economy.”

The existence of South Sudan adds another complication to the status quo. The National writes,

The 1959 treaty did not foresee an independent South Sudan, and the implications for Juba’s share of Nile waters. Like most post-secession issues between Sudan and South Sudan, the South’s allocation of Nile waters is not agreed. Nor is Khartoum, like Cairo before it, likely to easily give ground to a state upstream. The acrimonious relationship between Juba and Khartoum is unlikely to help.

Tension with Khartoum has not, however, prevented Juba from taking action. As part of its strategy to meet the country’s energy needs, South Sudan has stated that it will build dams on the White Nile and its tributaries. Reuters reports, “One of the most ambitious plans is the construction of a 540-megawatt Bedden dam across the White Nile south of Juba, but the government has not yet provided details of funding for the $1.5 billion, seven-to-eight-year project.” As details on this and other projects emerge, South Sudan’s role in the new politics of Nile water usage will become clearer.

As populations grow, the Nile issue will only become more urgent over time. The new leaders of Egypt and Ethiopia, no matter how friendly the tone of their diplomatic interactions, will face difficult choices in the coming years about how and whether to share the waters.

Meles Zenawi’s Death and the Sudans’ Negotiations [Updated]

Sudan and South Sudan have been at odds over various issues, particularly oil revenue sharing, border demarcation, and security, since South Sudan became independent last year. Negotiations – sometimes fruitless, sometimes more promising – have taken place in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. A round of talks in early August saw a breakthrough of sorts: a tentative agreement on oil revenue sharing, subject to further agreements on security.

This week the Sudans are back at the negotiating table:

Western diplomats and African Union mediators now hope to build on progress after the two struck an interim deal on oil fees last month. Sudan says it wants a border security deal before oil flows resume.

Officials from both sides have been much brighter in their predictions than in previous rounds.

“Sudan’s delegation is ready to reach an agreement by the end of this round,” El-Obeid Morawah, spokesman for Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, said. “I think they (South Sudan) are also open-minded and open-hearted.”

Michael Makuei Lueth, chairman of the border committee for South Sudan, said he was optimistic about resolving issues such as cross-border trade, the status of citizens in one another’s countries, and the disputed Abyei border region.

“If the government of Sudan is coming to negotiate in good faith, then we are likely to agree on everything except the borders that will follow at a later stage,” he said.

The United Nations, which previously set a deadline of August 2 for the resolution of the two sides’ disagreements, now says they must finalize a deal by September 22. Based on the experience of August it seems the deadlines are meant to generate a sense of urgency, but that some flexibility remains.

What has changed in the interval between the talks in early August and the current talks is that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a powerful influence in the region, has passed away. Some eulogies for Meles emphasized his role as a peacemaker between the Sudans, and some observers have wondered whether his absence might decrease the chances of peace:

It is Sudan and South Sudan where Meles’ personal engagement might be irreplaceable. Meles is the only regional leader to maintain strong relations with both Sudanese President Omar Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Meles often personally mediated meetings between the two foes.

The Sudans’ optimistic rhetoric suggests that the talks in early August established some momentum toward peace. The loss of Meles complicates an already fragile situation, but perhaps not critically so. And it will, of course, take some time to assess the impact of his death on the region, and to understand how Ethiopia’s new leaders will approach the conflict between the Sudans.

[UPDATE]: Sudan Tribune reports on talks in Addis Ababa between Sudanese presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie and Acting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegen.