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South Sudan to send representatives to regional bloc parliament

By Denis Elamu JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government revealed on Thursday that it would send nine representatives to the East African Community (EAC) parliament for the first time since the country became the sixth member state of the regional trade bloc last year.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mawien Makol told Xinhua that despite delay to pay the annual 1 million U.S. dollars to the EAC, South Sudan will soon be selecting nine representatives to the Tanzanian capital Arusha.

“The timeline of doing this was supposed to be in February, but that (selection) is going to happen,” he said.

EAC member states like Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have recently been selecting representatives to the influential regional parliament that handles legislation and policy.

South Sudan applied in 2011 to join the EAC, but outbreak of conflict in December 2013 delayed its admission ,which finally came to conclusion in April, 2016.

The landlocked war-torn country, which imports all its goods and services from the EAC countries, has hoped to use its membership to benefit its economy and political stability.



South Sudanese president calls for national day of prayer

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has called for a national day of prayers for peace and forgiveness across the conflict-hit country.

In a statement broadcast on state-owned Radio and Television (SSBC) on Thursday, Kiir said the praying would be conducted in all state capitals on March 10.

He appealed to citizens to shun violence and seek forgiveness from God through prayer, while saying the national day of prayers would pave way for the start of a national dialogue initiative he declared late last year.

It is the first time the South Sudanese leader has called for a national day of prayers after the world’s youngest nation descended into civil war more than three years ago following a political rift between the president and his former deputy Riek Machar, who is now being exiled in South Africa.

A peace pact signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated by fresh violence in July.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced and last week the UN declared famine in parts of the East African nation, warning that some 100,000 people, nearly half of the population, is in urgent need of food aid.


South Sudan seeks to plant 20 mln trees

By Julius Gale JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has set an ambitious target of planting 20 million trees in ten years in a bid to mitigate negative impacts of climate change, a senior official said Wednesday.

Joseph Africano Bartel, undersecretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said deforestation in the country has reached alarming levels due to charcoal burning and illegal timber trade.

He said under the new guidelines, regional provinces would be asked to plant 2 million trees each and residents in urban required to plant five trees in their residential plots.

“In our environment management plan, we are going to plant 20 million trees in ten years and each of the ten former states are going to plant 2 million different species of trees,” Bartel said.

Bartel added that South Sudan is seeking to enact laws to crack down on illegal timber trade, charcoal export and ban importation of plastic bags to protect the environment.

He revealed that rainfall and temperature forecasts for South Sudan in the next three months predicted less rainfall in the southwestern parts of the country, signaling a negative climate change pattern that would affect food production in the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned last year that South Sudan’s forests, currently covering 33 percent of its total land area, shrink by 1.5 percent annually due to logging and deforestation as the country lacks alternative source of fuels.

The agency said forests depletion was being fueled by armed conflict, poverty and increased demand for agricultural land.

South Sudan last month launched 28 projects under the UN-led National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPAs), making the East African country eligible to acquire funding of nearly 200 million U.S. dollars for implementation of programs seeking to address climate change after it pledged to implement some provisions of the  2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21).



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