AU Report Calls for President Kiir and Riek Machar to be Barred from the Interim Government

Posted: March 6, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Reports

Exclusive: Bar South Sudan leaders from transition – inquiry draft

The recommendations are directly at odds with a peace deal being negotiated that would retain Salva Kiir as president and appoint rebel leader Riek Machar as deputy. The two are holding talks this week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on forming a unity government.

Fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels allied with Machar plunged South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, into a civil war in December 2013. At least 10,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million civilians displaced.

The inquiry blamed the United States, Britain and Norway for creating “a politically unchallenged armed power” by backing a 2005 peace deal that “ushered in an unaccountable political class”.

The findings were to be presented to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on Jan. 29 but the body shelved publication of the report. The inquiry’s findings have not been released due to fears its publication could disrupt peace negotiations, say diplomats in the 54-state African Union.

Reuters obtained a 60-page draft of the inquiry, which a source close to the five-member inquiry panel said was produced in October. The same recommendations of barring Kiir and Machar from a transitional government were included in a new draft in January, the sources told Reuters.

Kiir sacked Machar as his deputy in July 2013, sparking the crisis. The United Nations and aid agencies accuse both sides of ethnic-based massacres and grave human rights violations including widespread rape and executions.

The United States supported Kiir until it lost confidence in him in late 2013. Washington had hoped he could oversee a stable, oil-producing, majority Christian state allied to the West in contrast to neighboring Muslim-led Sudan, which is hostile to Washington.

The conflict reopened ethnic fault lines, pitting Kiir’s Dinka people against Machar’s ethnic Nuer forces.

The violence “ethnically cleansed” the capital Juba of Nuer, who then sparked revenge attacks, said the draft of the inquiry obtained by Reuters.

The inquiry, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, holds Kiir and Machar responsible for the political collapse in December 2013 and “the organized massacres and the large-scale violence that followed.”

“RULE OF THE GUN”

The draft recommended that members of the South Sudan government, including the president, vice president and ministers in power before the cabinet’s dissolution in July 2013 “be barred from participation in the transitional executive.”

It called for an AU-appointed and U.N.-backed three-person panel to oversee a five-year transition and the creation of a transitional executive that would place all oil revenue in an escrow account overseen by the African Development Bank.

It recommended the creation of an African Oversight Force made up of troops “without prior involvement or direct interest in South Sudan” that would be under AU command and “the overall charge” of a U.N. peacekeeeping mission.

It does not specify how many troops would make up the force. There are already some 11,500 U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan.

Fighting has continued despite a truce signed a month ago by Kiir and Machar, who aim to form a transitional government of national unity by July 9. The current peace talks in Addis Ababa will extend beyond a Thursday deadline set by mediators.

The inquiry blamed some of South Sudan’s problems on the United States, Britain, Norway and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country Eastern African trading bloc known as IGAD, who were behind a 2005 deal paving the way for South Sudan’s 2011 independence from Sudan.

It said they helped to establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan” that acted with impunity and legitimized “rule of the gun.”

Officials from the United States and Britain declined to comment on a document they said they had not seen. Officials from South Sudan, IGAD and Norway were not immediately available for comment.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday urged public release of the findings. The United States, Britain and Norway last month called for the report’s release.

The draft obtained by Reuters recommends that the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, instead of the International Criminal Court, be given criminal jurisdiction over “high state officials individually responsible for war crimes and/or gross violation of human rights.”

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by David Storey, Jason Szep and James Dalgleish)

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AU investigators found South Sudan capital was ‘ethnically cleansed’

The African Union Commission of Inquiry found that violence in South Sudan’s capital city in December 2013 “resulted in a mass slaughter and effective ethnic cleansing of the Nuer population of Juba,” according to a draft version of the AU commission report obtained by Radio Tamazuj.

The report cites allegations of hate speech by President Salva Kiir and suggests in a section headed ‘Who were the killers?’ that many killings were carried out by “a body of irregulars” who had been brought to Kiir’s private farm near Juba and to his guard headquarters in Juba in the days immediately prior to the killings.

Mass killings began in Juba on 16 December after a clash within the presidential guards the previous night and following two days of tense political deliberations in which Kiir berated his rival Riek Machar – an ethnic Nuer – for “behaviour tantamount to indiscipline.”

The leaked African Union document – a draft of a commission report that the AU has decided to keep confidential – stated that a “killing spree” in Juba from 16-18 December left alive few Nuer besides those who fled to UN compounds.

The AU report focuses on the period of 16-18 December as the first of “two phases” of extreme violence. It also looks at the “second phase” of violence including revenge killings as violence spread beyond the capital into other states.

“Juba is settled along ethnic lines, and the killings took place in Nuer residential areas, as a house to house operation,” reads the document.

“The violence ethnically cleansed the city of Juba of its Nuer population. The motive of this violence was political: the violence, which originated as a schism in the governing elite of South Sudan, targeted one particular ethnicity, the Nuer.”

“Its intent and effect was to divide the civilian population along ethnic lines, to destroy the middle ground, thereby to polarize the society into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ An IDP at the UNMISS compound in Juba 3, told the Commission: ‘They put a knife into what bound us, turned the crisis from political to ethnic.’”

According to the document, “The violence in Juba targeted one nationality, the Nuer. Those who survived either fled the town by motorized transport, or those who ran on foot to the UNMISS compound.”

The document mentions not only killings but also other barbarous acts: “The gratuitous degradation of one’s humanity was a marked feature in many of the incidents of brutality narrated to us,” reads the report, going on to quote a survivor as saying, “I have seen people being forced to eat other humans. Soldiers kill one of you and ask the other to eat the dead one. Women are raped, people burnt.”

In the months after the killings, people in Juba seized the houses and properties of Nuers who had been killed or fled. The AU document reports “mass appropriation of property, such as the grabbing of houses in urban areas (particularly Juba), and land in the countryside, following large-scale ethnic cleansing.”

Allegations of hate speech

The inquiry commission noted that President Salva Kiir undertook a tour of his native Bahr el Ghazal in the period prior to the December violence and gave public speeches that were televised on South Sudan Television.

“These speeches, focused on his reasons for sacking Dr. Machar and the cabinet, became the focus of a growing public debate as more and more voices called for an end to ‘hate speeches,’” reads the AU draft report.

The Commission was unable to get transcripts of these speeches or videotapes.

In interviews with army officers and other sources, the AU Inquiry Commission found that military forces afterwards were ordered not to investigate the killings that had taken place.

A senior army officer stated, “Back to killing of 17th and 18th and why there was no attempt to counter the organized killing… To investigate the killing, we arrested some officers… We took all their statements. They were 12 officers. We were going up to Colonel. We were stopped, asked not to continue with the investigation.”

The SPLA officer was quoted as saying, “We handed all papers to the National Commission of inquiry. We were stopped by a decree.”

In a section headed “Who were the killers?” the AU draft document states, “The Commission received three different responses to the question: Who carried out the killing of Nuer civilians in Juba from December 16 to 18?”

“The most widespread explanation was that the body of killers was a body of irregulars recruited in two districts of Bahr el Gazal by the current Chief of Staff who was then Governer of Northern Bahr al Gazal and ran the party branch in the district.”

More coverage to follow.

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