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US congressman warns South Sudan could become the next Rwanda

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April 30, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – US congressman Frank Wolf has called on president Barack Obama to send former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to South Sudan to help resolve the ongoing crisis, amid warnings the conflict is eerily reminiscent of the genocide that unfolded in Rwanda 20 years ago.

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US congressman has warned that South Sudan could become the next Rwanda and is calling for the Obama administration to do more to address ongoing conflict in the country (Photo: Getty Images)

“I stand before you as concerned as I have ever been about the state of affairs in South Sudan and the potential for the recent violence to spiral into genocide – a genocide that could defy even the horrors of Rwanda given the oil reserves that are in play,” he said.

Wolf made the comments at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday in which he showed graphic photos of mass killings taken by an expert who witnessed the atrocities taking place during a recent wave of ethnic violence.

“I stand before you as concerned as I have ever been about the state of affairs in South Sudan and the potential for the recent violence to spiral into genocide – a genocide that could defy even the horrors of Rwanda given the oil reserves that are in play,” he said.

“MORAL OBLIGATION”

The US played a pivotal role in South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in 2011 following the signing of a peace agreement in 2005 aimed at ending the more than two-decades-long conflict, and thus had a “moral obligation to act”.

“President Obama must do more to resolve this crisis. America helped give birth to South Sudan,” Wolf said.

“Both sides are at fault and by immediately dispatching president Clinton and president Bush to help negotiate a halt to these killings, we would unequivocally convey to the long-suffering people of that nation that this is a US foreign policy priority,” he added.

Wolf’s comments come ahead of a visit to the capital, Juba, by secretary of state John Kerry as the US warns it is considering targeted sanctions on South Sudan.

The alleged massacre of more than 200 civilians sheltering in a mosque after rebel troops recaptured Unity state capital Bentiu from government forces has sparked international condemnation.

Rebels are accused of carrying out targeted killings after rounding up civilians based on ethnicity and nationality.

UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay and special envoy for the prevention of genocide Adama Dieng were in South Sudan this week where they held high level meetings with president Salva Kiir and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar as part of investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent killings.

Wolf himself has travelled to both Sudan and South Sudan on several occasions and is widely recognised in Congress for his work in the region.

CALLS FOR US TO ACT

He has been pushing the Obama administration in recent months to do more to address the crisis, which erupted in mid-December after simmering political tensions in the country turned violent.

The conflict has pitted the country’s army and members of Kiir’s Dinka tribe against pro-Machar rebel forces, comprising largely of defected soldiers and ethnic militias from the Nuer group.

Wolf said unless Obama intervenes to help stem ongoing violence in the country he may be forced to apologise for foreign policy failures just as Clinton did in Rwanda in March 1998.

“If nothing is done to stop the senseless killing in South Sudan, it will be on president Obama’s conscience,” he said.

Nearly a million perished in a horrific 100-day killing spree in Rwanda in 1994 as the international community, including the US, largely turned a blind eye.

Clinton, who has described the events in Rwanda as his “personal failure”, later apologised in Kigali for not doing more to stop the violence.

LASTING RELATIONS

In December, Wolf publicly called on Kerry to enlist the help of Bush to engage the leaders of South Sudan to bring an end to the crisis.

The Bush administration played a key role in negotiating the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and is known to have developed lasting diplomatic relations with South Sudan’s current leaders during his presidency.

“Both of these men have done a great deal on this issue and have remained invested in Africa beyond their presidencies,” Wolf said. “This pair of statesman hailing from two different parties would send a powerful message to the warring factions,” he added.

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Injured civilians are extracted from Unity state capital Bentiu, the scene of an alleged massacre after rebels retook the strategic town from government forces (Photo: UNMISS)

Wolf said he had been personally briefed on events surrounding the recent massacre by a credible source on the ground. He says he has also received information that a further attack on Bentiu may be imminent.

“I have heard of civilians, including women and children indiscriminately targeted and killed; I learned of houses of worship turned from places of sanctuary to mass graves; I have been told of ethnic divisions that now run so deep they could take a generation to heal,” he said.

“I have to believe cables are being sent to Washington that tell this same story. People who are in a position to help know what is happening. It is time to do something, or this is going to be Rwanda all over again,” he added.

ENHANCE US POLICY

On Tuesday, the Enough Project and Humanity United released an open letter to Kerry and ambassadors Susan Rice and Samantha Power, calling for a major of US policy towards Sudan and South Sudan.

“The US cannot positively influence outcomes in Sudan and South Sudan without fundamentally recalibrating its policy approach, the advocacy groups said.

The letter identifies the promotion of accountability, as well as support for peace and democratic transformation as three key areas in which the US should do more to support both countries.

The letter calls for the appointment of separate envoys and two full-time teams of experts and seasoned diplomats to better address specific issues affecting the two countries.

“We believe the enormity of the crisis in both countries requires someone of stature leading efforts on South Sudan and another official leading the efforts on Sudan,” the letter said.

The groups said increased diplomatic support for civil society, particularly women, youth and traditional leaders at the grassroots level, to ensure there voices are heard during peace negotiations.

Peace talks resumed this week in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but participation has been restricted to rebel and government delegations only.

Negotiations between the two warring factions have yet to yield a breakthrough, with a January ceasefire deal failing to halt violence on the ground.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 1 May 06:31, by Lotodo Awino Odug

    America must learn about the history of this Dinka cousins called Nuer, before they support their cause. because they are capable of destroying this new nation for minor issues. Dinkas are slow to react, but will be hard to stop when they begin to react. real genocide will occur when the entire Dinka communities begin to mobilize.

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  • 1 May 07:07, by dinkdong

    Send in former presidents; Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, or send in the arm forces? What are those former US presidents going to do? They might go and meet Kiir and Riek like the rest of people that have been there, but they wouldn’t do anything. The army (SPLA) and the rebels (the White Army) will continue to violated the signed peace agreements and international diplomatic interventions.

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  • 1 May 08:10, by Jalaby

    US Congressmen,
    Yes,the south is heading to be second Rwanda and that what we warned you long time back before the separation occurs but you never listened!
    You separated the south from north and then you turned your back on them leaving them hungry and starving to death and waited for Sudan to dismantle and collapses but that never happened

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  • 1 May 08:26, by Jalaby

    What? sending former president George W. Bush? I can understand sending Bill Clinton but W. Bush is known to be a moron person and he involved America in losing wars that costed US very high price and he damaged US economy so badly and for the first time since 1928 the unemployment rate in US reached 2 digits high!

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    • 1 May 08:30, by Jalaby

      You better stay away from George W. Bush and leave him alone otherwise he will mess it all in the south and make it upside down and for sure will speed up the process of heading the south into new Rwanda situation or may be even much worse!

      Jalaby (Abo Jalabia)

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      • 1 May 09:49, by Akol Liai Mager

        Don’t lie Jalaby, tell the truth that it is was your racist and religious based NIF who worked hard to either defeat South Sudanese and take their lands, or separate them so that Arabised and Islamised Taliban’s Style State can be created in the North. Not American, but Not-Nafie Ali Not-Nafie was the one who said; "Separation is better than the Unity of Garang which makes us equal".

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  • 1 May 10:33, by Angelo Achuil

    I think the coming of the two friends of South Sudan (Bush and Clinton) will definitely make a difference. Anybody who know the history of CPA and Bush’s contribution in it will gladly welcome his coming.

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  • 1 May 13:25, by Jalaby

    Museveni can easily turn the south into Rwandan model because he succeeded before in turning Rwanda into a piece of hell and made Africans killing each others in a horrific way like human monsters!
    I urge all of you to watch "Hotel Rwanda" movie and see how Rwandans massacred each others in a horrific way, you can find the movie in the Youtube.com

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    • 1 May 13:39, by Jalaby

      Instead of being part of the solution,Museveni is adding the oil into the flaring fire by entering UPDF in the south and heavily participating in the fighting by lining with one group against the other and no one knows why except Museveni himself!!
      Museveni seems to be unaware about the dangerous situation in the south when it moves to Rwandan model,he is going to be

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      • 1 May 13:49, by Jalaby

        one to warm himself by this burning fire, LRA will find a good environment in the south to continue their Guerrilla war against Museveni when the central government collapses in the south, see what happened in Somalia when the central government was gone! Somalia threatened the whole world by reviving the sea piracy which is supposed to be ended since the middle ages!

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        • 1 May 13:58, by Jalaby

          Yes Museveni will be the first one who will warm his body by this burning fire, LRA know very well the south is the strategic location more than eastern Congo to launch their war against Museveni, and Museveni himself toppled Kampala regime in 1985 when he was rebelling against Kampala government from south Sudan and came to power and not from Congo or any other place

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          • 1 May 14:02, by Jalaby

            if the central government collapses in the south then the whole region would be under great jeopardy, Ethiopian rebels will launch their war against Addis Ababa from the south, Sudan rebels will follow, same applies for Congolese rebellion, the south will join the already burning area in CAR and it would be the most big messing area in Africa!

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            • 1 May 14:08, by Jalaby

              We will work with Nuer to establish them a state similar to the state that got separated from Somalia and called itself "The Land of Somalia" after the central government was collapsed,the new Nuer state in the south will contain all the 4 states that bordering with Sudan, we will do that to protect Nuer and protect ourselves at the same time and prevent SPLA-N & JEM

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              • 1 May 14:14, by Jalaby

                from attacking us from behind and put our national security at great risk!
                I am pretty sure all the small tribes who live in these states will support new based Nuer state to get rid of Dinka ugly dominant!
                I am really not sure to which direction Equatorians are kicking the ball!! Please stay away from Museevni-Dinka alliance, it is a loser horse!!

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                • 1 May 23:19, by Bentiu Sudan

                  Jalaby,
                  You are right man. The war in South Sudan is worsening by the present of Ugandan troops. As the whole world knows that Ugandan government is in South Sudan fighting Nuer,and Uganda is a part IGAD that is Mediating peace talk between Rebels and South Sudan government, yet the international community does now want to dismiss Ugandan from being part of mediation.

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  • 1 May 23:05, by Bentiu Sudan

    US Congress man,
    Now you condemned the killings of JEM of Darfur in Bentiu and failed to condemn the mass killing of Nuer in Juba and Bor town. How would you solve this problem if you do not want to find the root causes of the conflict?

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