South Sudan

S.Sudan: Window of Peace Closing as Fighting Resumes

President Salva Kiir and rival Riek Machar have compromised a number of peace deals

The Speaker of Parliament, website Hon Rebecca Kadaga has granted a three-week extension to the Select Committee on the Standard Gauge Railway to complete its investigation and present its report to the House.

The Speaker made the ruling on Thursday following a request by the Committee Chairperson and Nakifuma County MP, Hon. Eng. Kafeero Ssekitoleko.

The Chairperson informed the House that the Committee had requested for more Information from the Chinese Government and there was therefore, need for more time so that this is included in the report.

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“We sought for more information from the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of China but they have not yet responded. We seek for three more weeks as we await this information before we present the report,” said Ssekitoleko said.

Kadaga in 2014 ordered an investigation into the much-anticipated infrastructural project following reports that its cost was raised from $8bn to $11bn under mysterious circumstances and that the procurement process leading to the awarding of the contract to Chinese firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHECL) was done in secrecy after edging out China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The Committee visited China in January 2015 on a fact finding mission which saw the Members hold meetings with the three construction companies to establish their capabilities to construct the standard gauge railway.

The Select Committee is composed of MPs Hon. Maxwell Akora(UPC, Maruzi), Hon. Clement Ongalo Obote (NRM, Kalaki), Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Ind., Sheema district), Hon. Patrick Amuriat (FDC, Kumi), Hon. Xavier Kyooma (NRM, Ibanda North) and Hon. Suzan Amero (NRM, Amuria district).

The Committee in January met with officials of the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) which is among the Chinese companies that had expressed interest in constructing the Uganda railway line.
Heavy fighting has resumed in the war-torn South Sudan as the peace talks’ deadline which her citizens and the rest of the world were expecting as the last solution to the bloody conflict, rx expires next week.

The shelling started on Thursday evening in the restive Upper Nile state that has continuously suffered the worst brunt of the first internal strife since the country’s Independence in 2011.

Aid agencies and residential sources from Upper Nile where the rebel movement also known as SPLA- In Opposition is based, information pills said the Rocket Propelled Grenades commonly known by the acronym RPG and artillery fired from rebel positions hit several places including residences in Renk town.

“Big bombs are landing here from the known rebel held areas. Everyone is terrified and we expect many people fleeing the town tomorrow (Friday), approved ” a source from United Nations Mission in South Sudan, who asked not to be named so as to speak freely, told us on Thursday night.

Fighting had reduced to the oil-rich State Unity in the recent past where both the government under President Salva Kiir and rebel movement led by Dr. Riek Machar wanted to gain much control before signing the peace agreement.

Yesterday`s attack signals a possible return to a fully blown war that rocked the world`s youngest nation in late 2013 when the duo disagreed during a ruling SPLM national party meeting in capital Juba.

Meanwhile, the set time frame of the IGAD-mediated peace talks expires on March 5 without clear signs of a possible signing of a lasting peace agreement.

The conflicting parties were expected to pen the agreement early this year during the African Union and regional Great Lakes Heads of State and Government summit in the neighbouring Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa where the talks are taking place.

The summit however ended without the final agreement being reached due to sharp disagreements on power sharing and the future of Machar’s rebels.

Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the conflict.


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