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Wednesday:  December 17, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Republic of South Sudan (2)

Wednesday
Jan112012

Ending The LRA: Reason For Optimism And Political Commitment (PERSPECTIVE)

By Ned Dalby

Marie-Paul Kimakosa, 18, with 12 month-old son Emmanuel Mbolina, and Mado, 3 (sleeping). Formerly of Ngilima village, Marie-Paul lost her husband, her father, grand-father, grand-mother to the LRA. Two cousins have been kidnapped and not returned. She fled to Dungu where she has settled with other internationally displaced persons (IDP's). July 2011 PHOTO CREDIT: Oxfam International /via FlickrInfrequent observers of central Africa are startled and appalled to learn that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group that emerged in the late 1980s, is still killing. Forced into the border zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, its brutality can no longer be framed as political protest but rather survival by its own awful, time-tested method.

However, military and civilian efforts to stop the LRA are gaining momentum and there is now a precious opportunity to end the nightmare of thousands. To make the most of it, African leaders and foreign partners should commit to an immediate military push and measures to help traumatised communities recover in the long-term.

In late 2008 Joseph Kony, the group’s leader, refused to sign a peace deal with the Ugandan government. Talks collapsed and the Ugandan army botched a US-backed assault on the LRA’s camps in north-eastern DRC. Since then it has been trying to catch Kony and scattered, highly mobile groups of fighters in dense forest.

The political agendas of the region’s leaders have made a difficult job even harder. Since the LRA no longer presents an immediate threat to Ugandans, there is understandably little domestic pressure on Museveni to invest the men and money needed to complete the mission. He has prioritised other more politically rewarding goals, including his re-election in February 2011 and beefing up the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In mid-2010 he pulled out about half the troops assigned to the operation. The campaign of attrition became markedly more passive and for months was little more than a cordon preventing the LRA’s return to Uganda. Local armies meanwhile have neither the will nor the strength to protect their people, let alone hunt down Kony’s fighters.

The DRC’s tolerance of a Ugandan military presence on its soil has been exhausted. During the second Congo war (1998-2003) Uganda occupied part of Congo’s territory, plundered its natural resources and earned President Joseph Kabila’s lasting mistrust. A deeply engrained animosity has seen the Congolese army deny the Ugandans access to LRA areas and in October 2011 forbid them to leave camp, reportedly on pain of death. Most of the LRA is in the CAR but could cross back into Congo at any time and find safe haven.

The LRA is inevitably a low priority for the governments of Uganda, the DRC, CAR and South Sudan sitting hundreds of kilometres away in country capitals. But an outcry from local civil society and pressure from human rights groups, particularly in the U.S, has made it difficult for western partners to stand idle.

Under direction from Congress, the US. government has committed to using political, economic, military and intelligence means to eliminate the LRA threat. The deployment in late 2011 of about 100 troops to Uganda, a minority of which have now advanced to south east CAR to advise and assist the Ugandans, is the clearest expression of US commitment to the fight.

The African Union (AU) is also in the process of launching its “regional cooperation initiative” to end the LRA. The three countries affected by Kony’s violence pushed the AU to the fore hoping it would bring in more funding. Looking to promote African ownership, the US also encouraged it. The AU’s limited capacity and difficulty reconciling the demands of affected member states and those of its main backer, the EU, have delayed the launch. But in November 2011 the AU appointed a special envoy to muster political will on the LRA issue and plans to reframe the operation as a “regional intervention force” thereby investing it with greater legitimacy.

US support, the AU initiative and other international interventions have now advanced far enough to present a genuine collective opportunity to end the LRA in the near future and enable afflicted communities to rebuild their lives in the long-term.

The U.S. military advisers in the field have the chance to embolden and strengthen Ugandan operations, in particular by improving communications and coordination among the troops and with host armies. But they will not be there long; just a matter of months according to US officials. While their expertise is on hand, while most LRA fighters are in the CAR and while the dry season allows for easier movement, the Ugandans should launch a concerted military push against the LRA, at all times prioritising civilian safety and accepting strict accountability for their actions.

As an essential complement to military pressure, the UN mission in Congo uses leaflets and radio messages to persuade LRA fighters and captives to leave the bush. Defectors say it works. The UN should take advantage of a healthy appetite among donors for such non-military measures and expand and intensify them as quickly as possible.

The UN, present in DRC, CAR and South Sudan, should also agree with government, military and humanitarian actors on procedures by which escapees are debriefed, taken home and helped to restart their lives. It should iron out unnecessary delays and funding gaps to be ready for greater numbers in the future. Assisting returnees should dovetail with long-term government and donor plans for stimulating social and economic recovery in hard-hit, border-zone communities.

For these collective efforts to come off, regional leaders, Museveni and Kabila in particular, will need to show their commitment to military and civilian efforts and cooperate. In particular, Kabila will need to allow Ugandan operations on Congolese soil and Museveni ensure his forces behave with total professionalism. It falls to Francisco Madeira, the AU special envoy, western partners and the UN to work with both on these issues.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst, the AU should recognise the need to maintain political support among African leaders and international donors for comprehensive military and civilian efforts in the long-term, especially if domestic pressure sees the US reduce its role. This political commitment is critical to beating the LRA and enabling thousands of vulnerable families to live without fear.

Ned Dalby is Central Africa Analyst for the International Crisis Group.

- This article also appeared in AllAfrica.com

Tuesday
Aug302011

Sudan Complains to UNSC Against Republic of South Sudan (NEWS BRIEF) 

(HN, August 30, 2011) Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti has sent a message of complaint to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), accusing the South Sudan government of violating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the official SUNA news agency reported Tuesday.

"I'm committed to send you a complaint concerning violations by South Sudan's government during the past period. The Republic of South Sudan has adopted hostile stances towards the mother state ( the Republic of Sudan), starting from the negative signals embodied in the speech of Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, on the day South Sudan was declared independent," SUNA quoted Karti as saying in the message to the UNSC chairman.

The South Sudan president's "negative signals" included his reiteration to support the Darfur rebel movements, together with his remarks about the South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas, which belong to north Sudan, Karti said.

 The complaint came shortly after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement saying that their researchers led a week-long mission to the area in late August and were able to establish that SAF had carried out 13 air strikes in Kauda, Delami and Kurchi areas where at least 26 civilians were killed and more than 45 others injured since mid-June.

“The relentless bombing campaign is killing and maiming civilian men, women and children, displacing tens of thousands, putting them in desperate need of aid, and preventing entire communities from planting crops and feeding their children,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Sudanese government is literally getting away with murder and trying to keep the outside world from finding out” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor. “The international community, and particularly the UN Security Council, must stop looking the other way and act to address the situation”.

Karti went on to say that South Sudan has hosted the Darfur armed movements and provided them with shelter, training and arms, and it is still supporting them.

 Martin Majut, an official with South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, told Bloomberg News, that the Sudanese charges were “baseless.”

The Sudanese minister went on to  reiterate commitment of the Republic of Sudan and its keenness to achieve a political settlement and stability, saying that the government's commitment to peace was represented in its signing and implementation of the CPA, including its recognition of the referendum results as well as of the newly-born South Sudan state.

Despite the violations by the government of South Sudan and its continuing support of the Darfur rebel movements to undermine security in Sudan, the Sudanese government has initiated a unilateral ceasefire for two weeks, Karti said, adding that the South Sudan government was still instigating the SPLM/northern sector to launch a war in South Kordofan.

The minister urged the UNSC to use its powers and means to push the government of South Sudan to commit to the agreements signed between the two countries and to immediately stop training, supporting and instigating the armed groups, whether in South Kordofan or Darfur.

He also called on the UNSC to urge the rebel groups in Darfur and South Kordofan to respond to the ceasefire declared by the government and sit directly with it to reach a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiations.

Southern Kordofan is Sudan’s only oil-producing state, accounting for 115,000 barrels a day, according to the energy ministry. South Sudan assumed control of 75 percent of the country’s former daily crude output of 490,000 barrels a day.

 - HUMNews Staff