South Sudan rebels reject president’s peace compromise

South Sudan trainee soldiers for a new unified army raise their wooden rifles above their heads while attending a reconciliation program on January 31, 2020, meant at ending bloodshed in the country. (AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2020

South Sudan rebels reject president’s peace compromise

  • The rejection by rebel chief Riek Machar dashes hopes of breaking a deadlock and ending a six-year conflict
  • When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 10 states

JUBA: South Sudan rebels rejected on Sunday a peace offer by President Salva Kiir to return to a system of 10 states, paving the way for a unity government.
The rejection by rebel chief Riek Machar dashes hopes of breaking a deadlock and ending a six-year conflict that has left at least 380,000 people dead and millions in dire poverty.
Kiir and Machar — who lives in exile — are under increasing international pressure to resolve their differences by a February 22 deadline.
Kiir on Saturday said the country would now be divided among the original 10 states — a key opposition demand — plus three “administrative areas” of Pibor, Ruweng and Abyei.
But rebel leader Riek Machar said Sunday he objected to the three administrative areas.
It “cannot be referred to as reverting to 10 states (and) as such cannot be accepted,” Machar wrote in a statement.
“We therefore call upon President Kiir to reconsider this idea of creating administrative areas,” he added.
Machar warned the three areas risked causing further problems, calling the issue a “Pandora’s box.”
The number of states is contentious because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.
When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan had 10 states, as set out in its constitution.
Kiir increased that in 2015 to 28, then 32 — and has now reduced them back to 10, plus the three areas.
He issued an order late Saturday relieving all governors of the 32 states of their posts.
He has said the final matter of states would be debated once the unity government forms.
Of the three areas, the most contentious is thought to be oil-rich Ruweng, in the north.
Oil provides almost all of the government’s revenue in South Sudan, making it one of the world’s most oil dependent nations.
Ruweng has been one of the most heavily fought over areas in the civil war and is claimed by both the Dinka people of Kiir and the Nuer of Machar.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.