South Sudan

Sudan: Friends pay tribute to victim of Sudan protests
Social media profiles have been turning blue in tribute to Mohammad Mattar who was shot dead during protests in Sudan.
Sudan protest witnesses saw 'death in all its forms'
The BBC's Fergal Keane speaks to witnesses and victims of the violence in Khartoum, which left at least 100 protesters dead.

'Outrageous' conviction in South Sudan

Prominent human rights activist Peter Biar Ajak is sentenced to two years in prison.
A South Sudanese court has sentenced prominent economist Peter Biar Ajak to two years in prison for
disturbing the peace because he gave interviews to foreign media. At the time he was already under arrest on treason charges that were subsequently dropped. That's a travesty of justice according to his international lawyer, Jared Genser.

(Picture: Peter Biar Ajak in court in Juba; Credit: Reuters)

Heavy security in South Sudan ahead of planned protest

Catherine Byaruhanga

BBC Africa

Salva Kiir
Protesters are calling for President Salva Kiir to step down

There’s a heavy deployment of security forces on the streets of the South Sudanese capital, Juba, with door-to-door searches being carried out in some neighbourhoods.

This comes ahead of planned street protests in towns across the country and in the diaspora.

The Red Card Movement is calling for President Salva Kiir to step down and democratic elections to take place.

The movement, a coalition of youth and women’s groups, says it is time for the ruling class symbolised by President Kiir to be removed.

They accuse the warring sides in South Sudan’s civil war of ripping the country apart.

In a speech on Wednesday, President Kiir warned that any violent attempts to overthrow his government will be met with force.

Over the past week, troop deployments have been stepped up across the capital including Freedom Square where demonstrators plan to gather.

Authorities say security searches are meant to find what they call "prohibited items" but the movement’s organisers believe they are being targeted.

Thursday’s protests are planned to coincide with the SPLA day, which marks the formation of the country’s army. Official celebrations to commemorate the day have been postponed to next week.

South Sudanese girls speak up for their right to education

"They use girls here in South Sudan for their resources"
As the peace process in South Sudan continues to falter, the formation of a unity government has been postponed.

Despite the political uncertainty people are getting on with their everyday lives including girls trying to go to school.

While campaigners and foreign donors are pushing to get more girls into education, many families insist that only boys should get an education. 

Newsday’s James Copnall met a group of schoolgirls,  aged 17 to 19,  in the capital Juba. 

Meet Christine, Monica, Lydia, Clementine, Hannah and first of all Sarah…

(Photo: Students take notes during class at a school in Juba Credit: Getty Images)

South Sudan pays US lobbyists $3.7m to dodge war court

A former US ambassador is among a team of consultants hired to help South Sudan's government reverse existing US sanctions and block the creation of a war crimes court.

The revelation has sparked outrage among experts and campaigners who say it undermines a crucial element of the peace deal that was signed last year, following five years of a brutal civil war that has killed at least 400,000 and displaced millions.

The two-year contract pays $3.7m (£2.8m) to a California-based lobby group called Gainful Solutions, which agrees, among other aims, to "delay and ultimately block establishment of the hybrid court":

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Gainful Solutions is run by Michael Ranneberger, a former US ambassador to Kenya and Mali.

The contract between the two parties was published in the Foreign Agents Registration Act section of the Justice Department website, Reuters news agency explains, as the act requires lobbyists acting on behalf of foreign agents in the United States to register the relationship.

South Sudan’s Deputy Chief of Mission in the United States Gordon Buay has denied his government has any intention of abolishing the hybrid court, telling AP news agency the priority was for reconciliation rather than punitive justice.

Michael Ranneberger
Michael Ranneberger was US ambassador to Kenya from 2006 to 2011

Tributes paid to Alfred Taban, legendary South Sudan journalist

The former BBC reporter has died aged 62

Alfred Taban in his office in Khartoum, Sudan - March 2010
Alfred Taban received several global awards for his work

"A beacon of journalism through the civil war", "a voice for the voiceless", "brave and courageous", "gracious and committed" are just some of the tributes being paid to South Sudanese journalist and politician Alfred Taban, whose death was announced over the weekend.

Taban, a former reporter for the BBC World Service's Focus on Africa and Network Africa programmes in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, was the founder and former editor-in-chief of the Khartoum Monitor.

It was Sudan's first independent English-language paper - launched in September 2000 and renamed the Juba Monitor after South Sudan became independent in 2011.

When he was awarded the National Endowment for Democracy in 2006, the US pro-democracy foundation said Taban had "been one of the leading non-violent voices of Sudan’s dispossessed and marginalised communities, as well as an advocate for national reconciliation, human rights and democracy".

George W Bush (R), then US president, speaks with Alfred Taban from Sudan (L) and Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove and other recipients of the National Endowment for Democracy Award on 27 June 2006 at the White House in Washington DC, the US
Alfred Taban (L) attended a reception at the White House in 2006 with then-President George W Bush when he was awarded a democracy prize

He was repeatedly jailed by the authorities in Khartoum and was later imprisoned by those in South Sudan for his determination to tell the truth.

Amongst his other accolades was the UK’s prestigious House of Commons Press Gallery Speaker Abbot Award for his “bravery in the face of personal risk including torture, and for his commitment to bring to the wider world the horrors of Darfur”.

Rachael Akidi Okwir, head of BBC East Africa and who accompanied him to collect that honour in 2005, says she remembers him as "a champion of media freedom in Sudan before the referendum that paved the way for the independence of South Sudan".

At more than 6ft tall, Alfred Taban was towering in both stature and intellect. This brave man never gave up standing up for the truth and justice."

In 2017, Taban went into politics and became an MP as part of efforts to end the civil war in the world's newest country.

"Alfred always argued that he was nudged to join politics, and despite later suffering poor health brought about by a stroke, he kept going even when his speech slurred," Akidi Okwir says.

According to South Sudan's Eye Radio, Taban negotiated the release of political prisoners, including journalists, before accepting an appointment to the National Dialogue Initiative.

Eye Radio’s station manager Koang Pal said that Taban was a “hero and a true freedom fighter” second only to John Garang, the former rebel leader considered the father of South Sudan.

Others on Twitter have described him as a mentor and BBC colleagues have remembered how generous he was with his advice:

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A campaign has been launched on social media to raise money for the family of the 62-year-old to pay for outstanding bills at the hospital where he died in Uganda and to take his body home for burial.

What might Bashir's downfall mean for peace in South Sudan?

The former president has now been moved to prison
The toppling of longtime President Omar al-Bashir has caused political upheaval across Sudan - but how are events being viewed in South Sudan?

The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but two years later a devastating civil war started that would cost the lives of 400,000 people. 

President Salva Kiir and his main opponent Riek Machar recently signed a peace deal to end the five year conflict. The deal was brokered by Sudan but the formation of a South Sudanese unity government is proving difficult. 

So, where does the change of regime in Sudan leave the fragile peace process in South Sudan?

(Photo: Former President of South Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. Credit: Reuters)