Tag Archives: US

Should South Sudan really hold an election this year?

South Sudan‘s government has announced that it will hold elections in June. But a hasty vote in this young and fragile nation – already mired in civil war – could cause more instability. Read more…

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, left, shakes hands with rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar, right, after signing an agreement at the end of talks in Arusha, Tanzania. (AP)

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As S. Sudan’s rainy season ends, more aid for the displaced – but more fighting

For the past six months, South Sudan’s rainy season brought misery to the nearly 2 million civilians displaced by the 10-month civil war. In crowded United Nations camps, tens of thousands lived ankle-deep in latrine overflow; and for those in the countryside, survival meant eating water lilies and drinking from rivers as the land transformed into marshy islands.

The rains are petering out, and should cease this month. But the change in weather hardly means respite: The end of the wet season means the start of the fighting season. Read more…

Photo: A rebel soldier patrols through a flooded area near the town of Bentiu, South Sudan on Sept. 20, 2014. Matthew Abbot/AP

Could Burkina Faso protests signal end of president’s 27-year rule?

A week of escalating protests in Burkina Faso exploded into violence Thursday as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets against an attempt by longstanding President Blaise Campaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Demonstrators in the capital Ouagadougou broke through lines of police, who used tear gas, to storm and torch the parliament building. The protesters took to the streets to protest a vote – now cancelled – that would have changed the constitution to allow President Compaore to run for an unprecedented fifth term.

“We have tired of this president. We want a new system,” says Ives Ouedraogo, who is 27-years-old and unemployed, speaking to The Christian Science Monitor by telephone from Ouagadougou. “I know just one president in my life. He needs to let another person.” Read more…

Soldiers attempt to stop anti-government protesters from entering the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014. Joe Penny/Reuters

South Sudan civil war: Rights reports slam both sides as leaders go to talks

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar smiles as he meets his friends at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir arrived on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital for the first face-to-face talks with Machar to try to end four months of conflict and avert a possible genocide. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Juba, South Sudan — In one of two much-anticipated human rights report released Thursday, the United Nations said both sides in South Sudan’s civil war have possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called for international justice.

A striking feature of investigations on the brutal warfare in the world’s newest country is evidence of widespread use of sexual violence, including gang rape and forced abortion, by all parties.

The accusations come as South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar today traveled to Ethiopia for peace talks amid continued fighting.

“From the very outset of the violence, gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law have occurred on a massive scale,” reads the UN report.  “Civilians were not only caught up in the violence, they were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.”

The UN report came out on the same day as another damning investigation by advocacy group Amnesty International.  Both reports document shocking abuses by both the government and the rebels since the war began in mid- December.

The conflict emerged out of a power struggle between President Kiir and his former vice president, Mr. Machar, that widened largely along ethnic lines. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, and Machar is a Nuer.  Thousands have been killed, and more than a million civilians have fled their homes.

Totaling 130 pages and based on more than 1,000 interviews with victims, witnesses, and others, the two reports present the most credible and comprehensive documentations of human rights violations since the conflict began.  Read more…

A South Sudan surprise: breakthrough on peace talks? Maybe.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (r.) chats with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Office in Juba, South Sudan, May 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Leaders of both sides of South Sudan’s bloody five-month civil conflict agreed Tuesday to go to Ethiopia for peace talks this Friday.

The announcement comes after a week of heavy diplomacy, with visits to South Sudan’s capital by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who threatened targeted economic sanctions against the belligerents. After months of a fruitless peace process, there are at least some tentative hopes now for a breakthrough.  Read more…

Will Kenya mosque assault radicalize Muslim youths?

A boy, who was with fellow Muslims detained by police from a raid at the Musa mosque, climb in a cell as the men wait to be arraigned at a court in Shanzu, a coastal town of Mombasa February 3, 2014.  Joseph Okanga/Reuter

Early this month more than 100 young Muslims in this port city gathered at the Musa Mosque for what was billed as a regional Islamic conference. The meeting had been banned by police, who say the mosque has ties to the Somali militant group Al Shabab. But the organizers went ahead anyway.

By early afternoon on Feb. 2, Musa was full of people, including dozens of neighborhood children drawn by a free lunch.

What followed next is unclear:  Police say they tried to arrest mosque leaders and came under gunfire.  Muslim activists say the police stormed the mosque unprovoked.

However it started, police stormed the religious structure with boots on and began firing tear gas and live bullets at youth, some of whom fought back with knives. After a melee that captured national attention, police arrested 129 people, including 21 minors, some only 12 years old.  Dozens were injured, and rioting continued for days as wounded succumbed to injuries.  By Feb. 6, seven Muslims and one police officer lay dead.  Read more…