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May 25, 2010

UN evacuates 10 aid staff after south Sudan clashes

JUBA, Sudan, May 25 (Reuters) – The United Nations evacuated 10 aid workers from a remote part of south Sudan after an armed group disappointed with April election results clashed with the region’s army, a World Food Programme official said.

Matt Persson, head of the WFP office in Jonglei state, said a crisis in the semi-autonomous south, where half the population is short of food, could worsen if the instability continued.

South Sudan will vote in less than eight months on whether to become Africa’s newest nation state.

"The security situation was getting bad," Persson told Reuters late on Monday. "There were reports of mobilisation of soldiers and that the population was moving out of the town… We decided to relocate."

He said 11,000 people would not be distributed food in Pibor in Jonglei where the fighting took place. "(But) if this continues 62,000 people will be affected in June," he said.

Jonglei state, where French oil giant Total <TOTF.PA> holds a largely unexplored oil concession, is one of the worst hit areas in the food crisis and has seen deadly tribal fighting.

David Yauyau, leader of the armed group which clashed with the south Sudan army on Thursday, had run for parliament for the opposition United Democratic Front party but lost.

He accused the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of fraud and intimidation during the vote.

"No other political party was allowed to win, this has angered everyone… Voters were threatened and beaten," Yauyau told Reuters.

The south Sudan army (SPLA) said he attacked an army base killing one soldier and wounding three others. Yauyau confirmed the clashes but did not give details.

Also in Jonglei a senior south Sudan army officer George Athor rebelled on April 30 after losing gubernatorial polls to the official SPLM candidate, and has since fought with the army.

Yauyau said he was in touch with Athor and that they shared the same cause. He declined to say if he would join Athor’s forces.

Analysts fear tribal violence over cattle raiding or ethnic rivalries could stabilise a newly independent south Sudan, spilling over into the region. An estimated 2,500 people died in 2009 in southern tribal violence alone.

Sudan’s north-south civil war, which has raged on and off since 1955, claimed an estimated 2 million lives and drove 4 million from their homes.

A 2005 peace deal ended the conflict fought mainly over oil, ethnicity, ideology and religion. The Jan. 9, 2011 southern plebiscite on secession was part of the accord. (Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

May 21, 2010

South Sudan swears in first elected president

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – South Sudan swore in Salva Kiir as its first elected president on Friday and the former rebel is likely to lead the semi-autonomous region to independence after a referendum in less than eight months.

Kiir won the April election against his only rival and former ally Lam Akol with almost 93 percent of the vote.

May 12, 2010

Renegade South Sudan general clashes with army

JUBA, Sudan, May 12 (Reuters) – A renegade south Sudanese
army commander said his forces clashed with government troops
for the third time in a week on Wednesday but said he still
wanted to negotiate an end to his revolt.

General George Athor rebelled along with an unknown number
of soldiers after losing in elections last month for the
governorship of the oil-producing south’s Jonglei state, stoking
tensions in a region already hit by drought, ethnic violence and
civil war.

May 3, 2010

Defeated Sudan candidate says armed, makes demands

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – A renegade army general in South Sudan said on Monday he had taken command of a body of soldiers and demanded the removal of the man who beat him in recent elections.

South Sudan’s army accused George Athor of masterminding an attack on one of its bases on Friday and plotting further assaults after he lost in the race to become governor of the oil-producing south’s Jonglei state last week.

Apr 30, 2010

South Sudan army accuses poll candidate of attack

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – South Sudan’s army accused a defeated election candidate of ordering an attack on one of its bases that killed at least eight soldiers Friday, stoking tensions days after the contested poll.

George Athor, defeated in the race to become governor of the south’s oil-producing Jonglei state, denied ordering any attack, telling Reuters soldiers in the base had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.

Apr 26, 2010

Factbox – South Sudan leader Kiir wins reelection

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir, fresh from an election victory, has an uncertain future: he could be the proud father of Africa’s newest nation, or the man who takes its largest country back to civil war.

After an overwhelming victory over his only rival, Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a former guerrilla group, now faces the task of arranging a referendum next year on independence for the country’s semi-autonomous south.

Apr 26, 2010

South Sudan leader Kiir wins reelection

JUBA, Sudan, April 26 (Reuters) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir, fresh from an election victory, has an uncertain future: he could be the proud father of Africa’s newest nation, or the man who takes its largest country back to civil war.

After an overwhelming victory over his only rival, Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a former guerrilla group, now faces the task of arranging a referendum next year on independence for the country’s semi-autonomous south.

Kiir is expected to form a national coalition government with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) in a bid to garner agreement on issues such as settling the north-south border, an area where much of Sudan’s oil wealth is located, ahead of the 2011 plebiscite.

Any major hold-up to the referendum could mean a return to civil war, just five years after the 2005 peace deal that was supposed to put end to decades of conflict.

Here are some facts about south Sudan’s Salva Kiir.

* Kiir was appointed southern president just months after the 2005 north-south peace deal, when the SPLM’s long-term charismatic leader John Garang suddenly died in a helicopter crash.

* While other members of the southern elite boast academic credentials, Kiir is seen as a no-nonsense army man, most comfortable in the field. He joined the south’s first insurgency (1955-1972) at 17 and later became a major in the Sudanese intelligence services.

* Supporters emphasise Kiir’s success in persuading a range of southern militias to join southern Sudan’s army, and say his patience in handling north-south squabbles has helped maintain stability.

* But many southerners feel he has not been tough enough on government graft despite a ‘no tolerance’ policy, and criticise the slow development of health, water and education services in the south.

* One of Kiir’s biggest challenges will be to maintain harmony between the south’s many rival tribes, especially if the region chooses independence from the rest of Sudan.

* While the 2005 accord called for leaders of north and south Sudan to make the case for unity, many southerners believe Kiir is pro-secession. Many of his comments suggest as much.

* Kiir, who is married with eight children, is a devout Catholic and frequently speaks at Sunday services in the southern capital Juba’s largest cathedral.

* Kiir is a member of the south’s largest tribe, the Dinka, which some feel dominates the government and army.

* He has a penchant for giant cowboy hats.

(Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Missy Ryan and Giles Elgood)

Apr 23, 2010

Two killed in south Sudan election clash – U.N.

JUBA, Sudan, April 23 (Reuters) – At least two people were killed during a clash between security forces and supporters of an independent candidate in elections in south Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state on Friday, the United Nations said.

The deaths were the first serious violence reported during the announcement of results in Sudan’s complex presidential, legislative and gubernatorial ballots.

Sudan is in the closing stages of its first open polls in 24 years, a process already marred by delays, boycotts and opposition accusations of widespread vote rigging.

The elections, set up under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war, were designed to help transform Africa’s largest nation into a democracy.

The violence erupted in the state capital Bentiu after a radio announcement said Angelina Teny had lost the race to become Unity governor to incumbent Taban Deng Gai, a member of Teny’s campaign team told Reuters, asking not to be named.

"From what I understand there was some sort of a demonstration over a gubernatorial radio announcement," U.N. regional coordinator for southern Sudan David Gressly told Reuters.

"It’s not clear how it happened but there seems to have been some shooting and two people were killed and four were wounded."

Gressly said it appeared security forces had tried to disperse the crowd. The dead and injured were all civilians, he added.

Teny, the wife of South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, told Reuters she had reports one of the injured people died later from their wounds.

Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) announced late on Friday that Gai, from the south’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), won the gubernatorial race with 137,636 votes, with Teny in second place with 63,500 votes.

Teny said that she would contest the outcome. During the election period she complained her agents had been harassed and arrested.

Teny was running as an independent after failing to get the SPLM nomination.

Southern officials told Reuters they were tightening security in two other southern states where independents ran against SPLM candidates.

Earlier on Friday, SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum told reporters the party won overwhelming victories at all levels of elections in the south.

The 2005 accord set up a semi-autonomous southern government and promised a referendum on southern secession in 2011.

Early results suggest Sudan’s incumbent president Omar Hassan al-Bashir will keep the top job while his northern National Congress Party will retain control of the national assembly. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler; writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Apr 21, 2010

South Sudan opposition allege poll fraud

JUBA, Sudan, April 21 (Reuters) – Opposition groups in south Sudan accused soldiers and officials on Wednesday of tampering with ballots and intimidating polling agents during vote counting, the latest accusations to mar landmark elections.

Sudan is holding its first open elections in 24 years as part of a 2005 peace deal which ended more than two decades of north-south civil war. But a wave of boycotts in the north tainted the vote’s credibility there.

Analysts say the polls are a test of democracy in Africa’s largest nation, particularly in its oil-producing south which is preparing for a referendum in January 2011 on whether to declare independence from the north.

Six independent and opposition candidates from different parts of the south told Reuters their supporters had been intimidated by southern soldiers or officials from the south’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) during last week’s five-day voting period and the vote counting.

Albino Akol Akol of the opposition United Democratic Salvation Front party said nine ballot boxes from seven polling stations were stolen and are still missing in his constituency.

"These are not elections, they are a mockery," he said. Akol said in five voting centres in Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s Malwal area the army lashed agents and then managed the polling stations alone.

South Sudan’s army (SPLA) denied interfering in any part of the polling, saying opposition candidates were complaining to cover up for their poor performance in the poll.

"This is just to justify their defeats … There’s no evidence of this," army spokesman Kuol Diem Kuol said.

SPLM official Yasir Arman also dismissed the accusations.

The 2005 peace deal created a semi-autonomous southern government and allowed the region to keep its own army. The former rebel SPLM is expected to win most votes.


Southern opposition and independent candidates from constituencies in the states of Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile and close to the southern capital Juba, said security forces had chased their agents away during vote counting.

Sarah Nyanath, an independent vying for Upper Nile governor, said in the state’s Logushuk area a government official dismissed all the polling agents from one station prior to counting and then added 732 votes to the ballot boxes.

A south Sudan elections official could not confirm that report but said many staff members had complained of harassment.

A British-led team of observers said on Wednesday it had recorded intimidation in the south. But it said overall in the mostly urban areas they were able to access, the elections were handled professionally by security forces.

"Most of the overt, if not all the overt intimidation we saw was in the south, mostly by the SPLA," Paul Moorcraft, head of the 50-strong mission, said.

The White House this week said the elections were beset by "serious irregularities" across the country.

The announcement of official results from Sudan’s elections, scheduled for Tuesday, has been held up by technical problems and delays in vote counting in the south.

The few opposition parties which participated in the north have all rejected the poll results, alleging ballot-rigging.

Early results in the north suggest an overwhelming win for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes in Darfur. (Additional reporting by Andrew Heavens and Opheera McDoom in Khartoum; Editing by Charles Dick)

Apr 15, 2010

Killings, harassment mar last day of Sudan vote

JUBA/KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) – Sudan’s ruling party said on Thursday that the southern army had killed nine people, including at least five of its officials, stoking tensions during voting in the first open elections in 24 years.

Oil-producing Sudan entered the last of a five days of presidential and legislative polls that mark a key test of stability for Africa’s largest country, emerging from decades of civil war and preparing for a 2011 southern referendum on independence. Voting has been largely peaceful, despite logistical problems and reported harassment of independent and opposition candidates.