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South Sudan government suggest progress has been achieved
at recent Peace Talks despite power-sharing disagreements

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Saturday said there has been progress in the just concluded second round of peace revitalization process to end more than four years of conflict.

"This phase was a successful phase that we managed to sign some of the provisions which were agreed upon in Chapter 1 and 2," said the Minister of Information Michael Makuei.

"We agreed on most of the provisions on governance and security arrangements, except that we did not agree on some of the issues as well as in terms of the permanent ceasefire."

The two parties also agreed to continue with the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) up to the time when they sign a permanent ceasefire, Makuei said after returning to Juba from Addis Ababa.

The CoH has been violated on several occasions by the warring parties since coming into force on Dec. 21.

Makuei said a demand by 14 opposition groups for the resignation of President Salva Kiir’s government and the dissolution of all institutions of governance including the security organs was rejected at the talks.

A proposal by regional leaders under IGAD for the creation of four deputy presidents has been rejected by the government, he said.

"The government is saying we are maintaining the status quo," Makuei said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013, after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.


Intergovernmental Authority on Development suspends South Sudan peace talks

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Friday suspended South Sudan peace talks for an undetermined time to give warring sides more time to reach conclusive agreement.

Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs Hirut Zemene said the positive spirit achieved during the latest round of peace talks should continue in the next session.

Ethiopia, an influential South Sudan neighbor, currently shelters around half a million South Sudanese refugees and has hosted several rounds of peace talks since the South Sudan civil war erupted in December 2013.

The conflict started as a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar but has since fragmented to several sides complicating efforts to achieve peace.

"A permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangement is needed to find a common ground for the finalization of a comprehensive agreement at the next phase of peace talks," Zemene said.

She also said that the recess time until the start of new peace talks should be used to overcome remaining difficulties for a lasting peace agreement.

Zemene called for a list of ceasefire violators to be prepared ahead of the next round of peace talks so that actions can be taken on peace spoilers.

Kenya’s Karoki wary of Ethiopian challenge at World Half marathon in Valencia

South Sudan welcomes border trade resumption with Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Thursday that the reopening of the border with its northern neighbor Sudan will spur hitherto stalled trade between the two countries.

Chairperson of the South Sudan Business Union, Ayii Duang Ayii, said the reopening of the border after a seven-year closure will help South Sudan’s battered economy, which has been suffering from more than four years of conflict.

"What we had been requesting all the time from the two presidents is finally implemented and borders are now open, even the goods which were not allowed to come will be allowed now to come freely," Ayii told journalists in Juba.

Sudan on Monday announced the opening of the border between its White Nile province and South Sudan’s Upper Nile region.

Sudan’s Trade Minister Hatem Elsir said the reopening of the border will be one of the mechanisms to limit the smuggling of commodities, a development analysts say could ease economic troubles in both countries.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar Al-Bashir, met in October last year in Khartoum and agreed to expedite implementation of the cooperation agreement signed in 2012 that covered security, trade and oil issues.

They also agreed to establish customs and migration offices in the 11 crossing points between the two countries.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013, after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Deal signed to end hostilities in South Sudan Jonglei State

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Warring clans in South Sudan’s Jonglei state on Wednesday signed an agreement to end hostilities and embrace peaceful coexistence after 39 people died during clashes that erupted last year.

South Sudan’s Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Xinhua by phone that the state government officials and community chiefs initiated a dialogue that included youth and women representatives from the two sub-sections of Abii community to end the violence.

"I am happy that the two clans were able to iron out their differences that divided them and reached an agreement to live again in harmony," Juuk said.

The defense minister said that although the two clans agreed to end fighting, the state authorities still deployed heavy presence of security forces along a previously created buffer zone to monitor any violations and to uphold relative calm in the area.

The Jonglei region has suffered decades of communal and tribal violence, mainly caused by rivalry over livestock and grazing land.

Last week, 15 people were killed and 8 others injured, in addition to the 22 killed and 18 injured in December last year, when members of Nyara clan fought with Biong clan within the section of Abii community over the ownership of land in the same area.

China’s peacekeepers offer new hope, insights in war-torn South Sudan

by Xinhua writers Yao Yuan and Jin Zheng JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Chinese peacekeeper Zhang Qun quietly walked past a classroom of South Sudanese students as they were taking an exam.

Everything seemed peaceful—only the broken windows and bullet holes on the nearby buildings testified to lurking danger.

The children came from camps for those displaced by war, and Zhang’s mission was to protect them as they sat for college entrance exams in Juba city.

As temperatures shot up to 41 degrees Celsius past noon, Zhang, wearing a bulky bullet-proof vest, was grateful to receive a bottle of ice water from his colleague.

"I initially ate some chocolates for lunch, but now they are all chocolate mousse," the 40-year-old Chinese officer told Xinhua reporters.

As a member of the sixth team of peacekeeping police China sent to South Sudan, Zhang represents a new profession that is promoting the Chinese image abroad, following traders, engineers and agricultural specialists.

The approaching Chinese New Year is a proud moment for the team, and Wei Yiyi, a Chinese peacekeeping police contingent commander, decided to stick to tradition and introduce some Chinese elements to their residence in the United Nations (UN) base.

There were no couplets with good wishes, festive lanterns or red envelopes, yet Wei got a Nile River fish to symbolize good luck and dozens of home-made dumplings to make the dinner resemble the ones eaten on New Year’s Eve.

The Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is the most important time for family gatherings in China, but Wei explained that they needed to leave behind their families so as to protect thousands of more families here.

"My daughter misses me a lot, but she understands it is a glorious job, and she often tells others how she is proud of having a peacekeeping police father," Wei said.

China’s participation in peacekeeping police missions has a relatively recent history: China started to send out its peacekeeping police in 2000 and now deploys about 150 police officers worldwide.

In South Sudan, those Chinese peacekeeping police, like their colleagues from other countries, patrol internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and engage in the protection of civilians.

Thanks to their good performance, the police earned a medal from the United Nations (UN) in November 2017.

The glory did not come easily, as the complex security situation in the world’s youngest nation poses great risks. Since 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in continual civil strife.

In 2016, two Chinese peacekeepers, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, died while five others were injured after their vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade while guarding a refugee camp near a UN compound for displaced people in South Sudan.

Last year, Japan withdrew its troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan amid mounting domestic concerns over the soldiers’ safety.

Meanwhile, China has cast itself as a staunch supporter of the UN peacekeeping mission.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at the United Nations Peacekeeping Summit in 2015 that China would take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad, build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, and provide free military aid of 100 million U.S. dollars to the African Union, as Africa has the biggest peacekeeping needs.

When asked why he is working abroad as a peacekeeping police officer, He Bin, deputy head of the team who works in the South Sudanese state of Wau, said the drive to join world’s peacekeeping effort agrees with China’s responsibilities as a major country, but there is more.

"Once a British police instructor told me that China has a small police force compared to its huge population, yet China is among the safest countries in the world, so Chinese police must have something the world can learn from," He said.

"Chinese police, as a representative of the Oriental culture, should go out and present its experience to the world. In this process, we also learn from our foreign counterparts," He said.

Wu Xiaobing, from China’s wealthy coastal city of Wenzhou, said he believes that the close encounter with wars and conflicts can draw the attention of the many Chinese who are now living in comfort and peace to the sufferings of the local people.

He told his family and friends about the children’s hardship in the IDP camps, and received generous donations of children’s clothes.

Among the most impressed was his 8-year-old daughter.

"I told her there are still places where children of her age are struggling in wars and poverty, and so do not take your comfortable life for granted," Wu said.

"I said to her: When you are capable, you should do more to help those in need."



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