Tuesday, August 7, 2018

UN chief calls on South Sudan leaders to finalize peace deal

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday welcomed the signing of a power-sharing deal by South Sudan's leaders and urged them to act quickly to reach a final agreement and end their nearly five-year war. PHOTO | SUMY SADURNI | AFP  

By AFP Agency
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday welcomed the signing of a power-sharing deal by South Sudan's leaders and urged them to act quickly to reach a final agreement and end their nearly five-year war.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his arch-foe Riek Machar signed the deal Sunday in Khartoum that will see Machar return to the government as the first of five vice presidents. 

The accord is to pave the way for a final peace deal and the formation of a transitional government that will hold power until elections are held.

Guterres hailed the agreement as "an important step" on the path toward reviving a peace deal signed in 2015 that was supposed to end the war.

The UN chief "urges all parties to work in good faith and demonstrate their commitment to fully implement and to finalize the revitalized ARCSS as soon as possible," he said in a statement.

The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) was signed in 2015 to restore peace, but never materialized after Machar was chased out of Juba in an attack by government forces in August 2016.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into war in December 2013 following a power struggle between Kiir and Machar.

Last month, the Security Council slapped an arms embargo and sanctions on two military officials to pile pressure on South Sudan's leaders to turn away from the battleground and seek a diplomatic solution.

The United States, a major backer of South Sudan and top aid donor, has said it has lost patience with the leadership in Juba following a string of failed diplomatic efforts.

Tens of thousands have been killed and nearly four million have been uprooted. Seven million South Sudanese -- more than half of the population -- are in need of food aid, according to the UN.


Friday, July 13, 2018

'Credible evidence' of killings by Cameroon soldiers: Amnesty


Rights group Amnesty International said Thursday it had "credible evidence" that Cameroonian soldiers carried out the extrajudicial killings of two women and two children, demanding the servicemen be brought to justice. 

The watchdog said it had analysed a video purporting to show soldiers in military fatigues shooting dead the civilians -- footage that a government spokesman dismissed as "fake news".

"The evidence we have provided forms a firm basis for strongly suggesting that the individuals committing these atrocities are members of Cameroon's armed forces," said Samira Daoud, deputy director of Amnesty's West Africa office. 

"Some individuals are clearly identifiable and cannot be allowed to get away with such a heinous act with impunity." 

The video, posted on social media on Tuesday, shows men wearing uniforms similar to those used by some units in the Cameroonian army forcing two women and their two children to their knees and shooting them.

Before the killings, men speaking in French identified the victims as "BH" for Boko Haram and said they had been captured during an assault against the jihadists, who have mounted operations in several of Nigeria's neighbours since 2015, including suicide bombings.

It has not been possible independently to authenticate or date the video.

But Amnesty said it had studied the footage and matched the military fatigues worn by figures in the video to units in the Cameroon military. 

In addition, it said the weapons used in the killing -- Galil rifles -- are comparatively rare in West Africa and are known to be used by the Cameroonian army. 

After his government initially dismissed the video as a fake, President Paul Biya on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the alleged killings. 

"It is imperative that a proper, impartial investigation is undertaken and those responsible for these abhorrent acts are brought to justice," said Daoud.

Several NGOs have periodically accused the army in Cameroon of serious atrocities against civilians suspected of having ties with Boko Haram fighters. The military have always denied the allegations.


© Agence France-Presse


Friday, July 13