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South Sudan Peace Deal Bumpy As Rebel Leader Doesn’t Return

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South Sudan Peace Deal Bumpy As Rebel Leader Doesn't Return

South Sudan’s government is spending millions of dollars next week to celebrate a “final final” peace deal to end a five-year civil war. One problem: The rebel leader who agreed to share power is reluctant to come home.

Riek Machar’s hesitation amid security concerns is the latest sign that one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts might be merely on pause.

Worried observers can list several more: Key implementation deadlines have not been met. Cease-fire violations continue amid shocking abuses. And detainees who should have been freed remain behind bars.

“There’s been no indication that the peace deal’s been working,” said Denay J Chagor, chairperson of South Sudan’s United Movement opposition party, who helped negotiate the peace talks.

He told The Associated Press it looks unlikely that Machar and President Salva Kiir, whose previous attempts at sharing power have erupted in gunfire, will ever work together again despite their recent handshakes.

Under the peace deal, Machar is meant to return as Kiir’s deputy. Tensions between their supporters led to the outbreak of the civil war in late 2013, and Machar’s second attempt as vice president under a previous agreement lasted a few months before fighting broke out in 2016 and he fled on foot into exile.

State of emergency

In a letter to Kiir last week, Machar said he would return for Tuesday’s event only if the president meets three demands: Lifting the state of emergency, releasing all prisoners of war and allowing free movement for opposition parties currently based abroad.

“It would be absolutely unprofessional and a security blunder for the (opposition) to allow him go to Juba without his protection force, keeping in mind the unwillingness of the regime to adhere to the cease-fire,” opposition spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel told the AP. The government must show a commitment to the peace deal by first silencing the guns, he said.

Kiir this week tried to be reassuring, telling Kenya’s Citizen TV that Machar’s safety is secured by the government.

South Sudan’s civil war has crippled the nation, killing almost 400 000 people with violence and disease according to one recent estimate. Attacks occurred even as the warring sides negotiated the peace deal, with both opposition and government forces accused of making a final grab for territory before the fighting stopped.

Rape has been a widespread weapon of war. A United Nations report this month accused the opposition of abducting women and girls as young as 12 and lining them up so commanders could choose “wives.” Those not selected were left to be raped repeatedly by other fighters, the report said after hearing from victims and witnesses.

‘There is little to show’

“There may be a new peace deal in South Sudan but government forces are committing new abuses against civilians,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch, which this week reported that troops attacked civilians and burned homes in Western Bahr el Gazal region from June through September, forcing tens of thousands to flee.

While South Sudan’s government and regional countries that brokered the agreement have trumpeted the peace deal, it has been met with scepticism elsewhere. For the first time the United States, Britain and Norway, the troika that ushered South Sudan into independence, decided not to sign the agreement, saying they remained “concerned about the parties’ level of commitment.”

Six weeks since the signing, some observers say there is little to show.

According to a progress report released earlier this month by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee charged with overseeing implementation, several deadlines have been missed.

Those include the formation of two key bodies meant to be established within days of the deal: the Joint Defence Board, responsible for securing the permanent cease-fire, and the Independent Boundaries Commission, tasked with defining the number of states.

While acknowledging there have been setbacks, South Sudan’s government denies that things aren’t progressing.

“It is not true, the peace agreement is being implemented in letter and spirit and those who criticize it think peace is a one-night event instead of it being a process,” said government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny.

Recent days have shown some movement. This week a separate committee tasked with monitoring the peace deal’s early implementation convened for the first time in Sudan to discuss a roadmap for peace. Last week the government released 24 political detainees.

While some South Sudan experts are not surprised at the shaky start, at least one doesn’t see the situation stabilising any time soon.

“Too many delays and the deal can stall out,” Alan Boswell, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, told the AP. “If the parties are pushed too hard, though, the accord can collapse as it did last time.”

African News

Kenya Committed To Improving Aviation Infrastructure

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Kenya Committed To Improving Aviation Infrastructure

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta says the government is committed to improving the country’s civil aviation infrastructure.  He credited the industry with enhancing the country’s economy and national development.

He said at the eleventh forum of the international civil aviation organization air services negotiation meeting in Nairobi that the aviation industry contributes four tenths of a percent to the country’s gdp.  He also said the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi provides seventeen thousand direct and more than half a million indirect jobs.

Kenyatta said about eight in ten tourists visiting Kenya use air transport.

He said these are some of the reasons his government is committed to investing in aviation infrastructure to help the industry play its critical role in the economy.

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2 Persons Killed In Clash Between Security Forces And Protesters In Togo

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2 Persons Killed In Clash Between Security Forces And Protesters In Togo

At least two persons were reported killed in Togo over the weekend after security forces moved against protesters. Opposition has accused the government of using what it called “regime soldiers” it says opened fire on the demonstrators.

At least two persons were killed in clashes between Togo’s security forces and protesters.

Authorities reported finding a dead protester in Lome with an open wound in his left eye that indicated a bullet entry. Another dead body was also reported, this time with no bullet wounds.

The protests intensified after the government called for parliamentary elections to be held in late December.  Opposition is against the polls.  It has demanded reforms of the national electoral commission, and a two-term limit for presidents.

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Cameroon Law Graduates-Turn-Musicians Sing For Peace

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Cameroon Law Graduates-Turn-Musicians Sing For Peace

Two Cameroonian Law graduates, who are now musicians, have been traveling through the country’s English-speaking regions singing messages of peace they believe will touch the rebels and help end the separatist conflict there.

The singers started their group in October when they both lost family members and friend in the secessionist struggle in the English-speaking regions.

The duo sing in both English and French reminding people about the grave repercussions of war, and urging all sides to embrace peace.

The conflict has claimed hundreds of civilian lives. Thousands have been internally displaced, and thousands more have fled, many to neighboring Nigeria.

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