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Frontier spirit embraces risks of south Sudan

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By Javier Blas and William Wallis
Financial Times (UK) 10 jan
There are few regions in Africa as remote and undeveloped as southern
Sudan. Unity state, where Philippe Heilberg says he has secured a huge
tract of arable land, is inaccessible even by south Sudan’s standards.
Aside from AK-47s, it was deprived of most of the trappings of the
modern world. Even a road network that has been under construction since
2005, when a peace agreement ended the long civil war between the
predominately Muslim north and the Christian and animist south of the
country, has yet to reach it. But Unity state does border the White Nile
and its flat, arable land could, with billions of dollars of investment
in irrigation and roads, be transformed into a world-class bread basket.
As commodity prices spiked last year, Gulf countries poured hundreds of
millions of dollars into securing land in the fertile Nile valley
farther north to grow food crops for exporting home.
Mr Heilberg is convinced that demand for land is now gravitating south.
Other experts say investors are scouting out opportunities in the south,
albeit on a far less ambitious scale. That is despite imprecise land
laws and the risk of a new civil war should the oil-rich south vote for
independence in a planned referendum in 2011.
Mr Heilberg has experience in commodities markets on Wall Street and in
Asia. To help him as he looks for opportunities in Africa, he has pulled
together a board at his US-based investment vehicle, Jarch Capital,
which includes Middle East, Africa and security experts with years of
experience at the Pentagon, CIA, White House and state department.
He is of a resurgent class of western businessman drawn to the potential
of Africa’s remaining frontiers, who have been energised by Asia’s
appetite for the continent’s natural resources.
Sudan experts familiar with his business strategy liken him to
buccaneering capitalists such as Sweden’s late Adolph Lundin, who
acquired mining and oil concessions in Congo and Sudan while civil wars
were still raging and turned huge profits when he sold them on.
In both countries, however, legal wrangling has often prevented mineral
concessions from becoming productive. Mr Heilberg has experience of this
problem after being embroiled in a dispute with the south Sudan
government over oil exploration rights also claimed by other companies.
Some experts on Sudan believe his 400,000 hectares will face a similar
fate and that his ultimate strategy is to trade whatever claim he can
sustain over the land to investors with a greater capacity to develop
it. He says the land has great potential for biofuels and food crops and
is looking for joint venture partners.
He insists the law is less important to his deal than the clout he has
bought into by associating with a former warlord, Paulino Matip, whose
family says it owns some of the land in Mayom county, in Unity state.
“I never understood why the oil industry could spend $1bn drilling dry
holes but they do not want to take a single dollar in legal risks,” Mr
Heilberg told the FT.
Mr Matip fought with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement against the
northern army before gaining notoriety during a bloody civil war episode
when he switched sides to form his own militia, with backing from parts
of his Nuer tribe and the Khartoum regime. “I am sure Paulino has killed
many, but I am sure he done it in protection of his people,” Mr Heilberg
Following the 2005 peace agreement his forces were appeased when he was
brought in as deputy commander in the army of the autonomous south.
Mr Matip’s son Gabriel, who controls the company in which Jarch has
bought a majority stake, said he had negotiated with tribal leaders to
secure access to more land. He said the company also had the agreement
of the ministry of agriculture in south Sudan for the development of the


Written by torit1955

January 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

South Sudan President asks Jonglei Gov. Kuol Manyang to be Minister of SPLA Affairs

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Is Governor Kuol Manyang likely to bag the ministrty of SPLA Affairs?

See the story here

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Written by torit1955

December 16, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Sudan: Diocese of Torit Marks 25 Years With Calls for Peace

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Sudan: Diocese of Torit Marks 25 Years with Calls for Peace

11 December 2008

Juba — The Catholic bishop of Torit has asked his flock to transcend tribalism and unite to build a peaceful South Sudan.

Bishop Akio Johnson Mutek told the faithful gathered on Monday for the mass marking 25 years of Torit Diocese that Christians should look at their neighbours as people who can help them, not as enemies.

Eastern Equatoria, where Torit is located, is one of the southern states that suffer most from tribal tensions especially related to cattle rustling.

The call for unity was also echoed by the South Sudan metropolitan bishop, Catholic Radio Bakhita reported. Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro of Juba said the model of unity in the church is Jesus Christ who came to set captives free.

The archbishop of Juba acknowledged that Torit was the most affected diocese during the Civil War from 1984 to 2005. He challenged the youth to groom themselves to build a new vision for tribalism-free South Sudan where there will be peace and reconciliation.

The archbishop also asked priests to be united among themselves and be exemplary leaders.

The Silver Jubilee of Catholic Diocese of Torit started on December 6 with the Way of the Cross through the streets of Torit. The Way of the Cross was led by Bishop Mutek of Torit and Bishop emeritus Paride Taban.

The sixth station recalling Veronica wiping the face of Jesus was said in front of the State Legislative building. The chairman of the jubilee organizing committee, Fr. Joseph Otto, said Eastern Equatoria’s parliament had suffered a lot and so its face needed to be wiped with prayers like Veronica wiped that of Jesus. The state parliament was closed due to internal wrangles in August.

Concluding the prayer in front of the ruined Cathedral, Bishop Akio said the four kilometre-long procession signified the suffering, sorrow, pain and steadfastness of the people of the Diocese of Torit during 25 years of war.

On Sunday, Bishop Taban, the first bishop of Torit who retired in 2004, presided at the high mass.

He told the congregation that the diocese needs dedicated lay persons who are well instructed in the teachings of the church. He challenge the youth to uphold morality, hard work, faith and self-discipline.

The diocese of Torit is served by more than 50 priests. It has 15 parishes and runs three secondary schools, seven primary schools and two hospitals.

The silver jubilee celebrations were attended by scores of faithful, priests and religious from other dioceses, government officials, dignitaries and the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir.

Written by torit1955

December 14, 2008 at 7:48 pm

What is GOSS Saying:British Police targets Sudanese money loot London

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Below is a public statement attributed to GOSS’ ministry of Regional Cooperation, Department of Information and Media released on 12 December 2008. The aim of the statement is to  extricate Stephen Bak from alleged looting of US $ 3 millions from the coffers of GOSS’ ministry of regional cooperation and the possibility of involvement of a network of patronage in siphoning the money through London, a Public Statement  date 12 December 2008 is released.

The statement gives a different twist to the saga, admitting that some funds were officially given to Stephen Bak so that he can operate an office in London, not for purchase of arms in Britain and Israel is was reported earlier by one John Chol Gatlwak who was said to be a spokesman of the embattled ministry.

Please read:


The Ministry of Regional Cooperation (MRC) of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) wishes to refute the misinformation circulated in the internet about Comrade Stephen Madut Baak. Some anonymous individuals have been defaming the image of Comrade Stephen Madut Baak, a Southern Sudanese nationalist of high integrity and personal respect. The Ministry further strongly condemns the association of H.E President of GOSS and family with the incident of Comrade Stephen Madut Baak. Such disrespect for somebody who has continued to sacrifice his life for the liberation of our people is uncultured, particularly for a Southern Sudanese citizen who can have the courage to call our President and family names. It is a living historical fact that Comrade Baak is a very senior person in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), who served the movement in various capacities with dedication and diligence. In a nutshell, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation wishes to confirm the following:
1.       1. Comrade Stephen Madut Baak is a Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, appointed by Presidential Decree NO. 5/2008 7th February 2008. Following his appointment, the Ministry prepared a six months budget amounting to $137,000.00 (one hundred and thirty seven thousand US Dollars only) for him and his three staff. Given his health problems, he will serve from the GOSS Liaison office in London due for official opening in the early FY 2009. He was therefore advanced the money to establish the office, including purchasing a vehicle to facilitate his movement, hiring a driver and salaries for himself and the two additional staff.
2.       2. Comrade Stephen Madut Baak was also given assistance by GOSS and took loans against his monthly pay LS 200,000.00 (two hundred thousand sterling pounds only) to settle his family and resolve some of his personal problems plus the amount in (1) above.
3.       3. Comrade Stephen Madut Baak was indeed dispossessed that money on arrival at London Heathrow Airport despite the fact that there were accompanying letters from the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and from the office of GOSS President explaining the reasons why that money was given to Comrade Baak.
4..       4. It is true that any amount more than ten thousand sterling pounds should have been declared at the port of entry to British Customs and excise according to international practice. This is an admissible mistake because the money should have been wired using the accounts of the Ministry’s offices abroad.
The Ministry therefore wishes to dismiss the erroneous misinformation circulating in the internet mentioning imaginary figures such as $3 million US dollars or $20 million US dollars allegedly carried to be banked in the United Kingdom. The Ministry is constantly following the matter and a legal process is ongoing to ensure that Comrade Baak repossesses his own money.
We would like to assure the public that GOSS is committed to fighting corruption at all cost including the idol corrupt voices of the internet that engage fulltime in erroneous fabrications. The SPLM-led GOSS is a serious matter and no amount of propaganda can deter the leadership commitment to maintain peace and pursuing development for the people.
Ministry of Regional Cooperation
Department of Information and Media
Juba, Southern Sudan
December 12, 2008

Written by torit1955

December 14, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission Seeking to Proect Citizens

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Thursday 17, 2007

By Isaac Vuni

December 10, 2008 (JUBA) — The acting Chairperson of Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) Thomas Dut said that no one should be deprived of one’s life because the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has the obligation to protect its people as stipulated in its interim constitution.

Addressing journalists on the global sixtieth anniversary of Human Rights Day at the Southern Sudan Assembly building Wednesday, he called on all Sudanese to seriously observe and disseminate human rights practices that should start from their family then to others.

When asked how many cases are addressed by SSHRC, Dut pointed to abduction, rape and murder cases in Warrap state and Eastern Equatoria state where civilians were arrested by military, and Central Equatoria state where fighting against foreigners has been addressed.

He also reiterated President Salva Kiir’s appeal not to harass foreigners, especially neighbours who have come to help in reconstruction and development of Southern Sudan.

So far, he said, SSHRC has trained executive secretaries, legal officers, victim protection officers, internal auditors and clerks for three weeks after 6th November, who are now ready to be dispatched to various states of Southern Sudan.

Meanwhile the representative of a civil society organisation called Southern Sudan Law Society, Justice Dong Samuel, said prisoners in Juba are kept in inhuman and degrading conditions with 800 deliberately crowded in cells meant for only 300 prisoners.

Justice Dong accused some government officials, without mentioning their names, of deliberately inflicting torture on prisoners, creating alarming concerns that their liberty had been deprived either by police or the attorney general who might have wrongly sentenced them simply to appease the ruling government.

He added that the military rule and laws imposed on Sudanese is demonizing, especially in Darfur, and must be condemned by all peace-loving Sudanese and friends.

Justice Dong further noted that GOSS is working very hard to absorb civil society but civil society such as teachers would like to continue advocating for rights of marginalized Sudanese.

Similarly the UN Development Programme (UNDP) representative Nelson Umbu said human rights violations are committed by state actors but he was quick to elucidate that UNDP provides support to police and prisons only in order to reduce human rights abuses in southern Sudan. He said that UNDP encourages the government to do their work independently.

Meanwhile the chairperson of specialized committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian affairs of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) Margaret Abudi Peter assured that they will soon pass the human rights bill to enable Sudanese individuals to take responsibility for human rights violation.

Earlier, Commissioner Anei Adik Arop and Executive Secretary Victor Lado said the official celebration of the SSHC will be celebrated in Jonglei state on 19th December. However commissioner Arop further said the delay in passing the commission bill is causing concern to all.

Written by torit1955

December 11, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Human Rights Issues

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Poverty Reduction? A long Way to Go for Sudan

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By Alesio Clement Pwong

Poverty Reduction? A Long Way to Go for Sudan

By Alesio Clement Pwong

Poverty Reduction, a Long Way to Go for Sudan

Apart from clashing with the simmering internal political tensions and pleasures contentious issues such as Dar Fur crisis, sharing of oil and non-oil revenues between Khartoum and the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan, prices of basic communities shot up to about 200%.

The government in its early days in 1989, had promised bring peace in the war-torn Sudan; reduce the growing gaps between the poor and rich; enlarge access to social services such as health care, education, water and shelter; and invest in developing agriculture and non-agricultural sectors is either unable to answer why prices of goods and services are no longer affordable, or are giving unsatisfactory answers.

Revenue from oil export has increased tremendously in the last 2-3 years, following the ending of the North-South war in January 2005; but this increase did not translate into any change in the budget priorities of the government in Khartoum, neither in the South which is struggling to recover from years of devastating wars. This year, the central government, otherwise known as Government of National Unity, set aside US $ billion as its 2008 budget, about 17 times more than 1989 budget allocated by the government it deposed that same year.

But the government of national unity did not change its priorities even after the signing of the peace deal three years ago. Budget allocations in the last three years followed the war time patterns. For instance this year, budget allocation was as follows: 78% for security,defense, police, and sovereignty sector i.e under the discretion of the president. This huge lump sum of public resources are not liable to public audit by the Auditor General.

17% went to meet the wage bill of all state institutions and social services; only 5% is set aside for dept repayments (Sudan is currently US$30.1 billion in dept).

Government of the semi-autonomous South Sudan followed the trend, in spite of its general policies which are hinged on the poverty reduction,sold to it by the World Bank which is now controlling policy development in the South through its resident officials in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Over the last three years, Government of South Sudan allocated about40% of its budget to its army, Sudan People’s Liberation Army. of the remaining 60%, up to 80% spent on salaries, wages and allowances of ever-bloated public service sector,the largest employer in South Sudan. The president of the autonomous region make civil service reform as his top agenda aimed at trimming that body and reducing public expenditure etc. But is very much likely this policy agenda shall be challenged by many interests and groups.

This trend in government priorities explains part of the causes of price hikes and worsening living conditions of the majority of Sudanese. Taxation and multiple levies exacted by the government is another cause. for example, Price of Sugar, a strategic commodity in Sudan, have gone down recently at Kenana Suger Co. the largest producing most of Sugar in Sudan. But the decline in the price of Sugar there did not lead to lowering of consumer price because taxes collected along the supply line increased the prices at the retail shops by 60%, consumer groups maintained recently. The same goes to wheat and other essential goods.

But official government line of reasoning attributes maddening price hikes of basic foodstuffs to international increase in the prices of these goods. But analyst believe there is more to this than meets the eye:

For the last three years, new class of entrepreneurs with strong clientelist links with the political power-holders in the system constitute the main cause. Through complex association, they managed to control state organs and all the banking systems including government owned, private or foreign as their source to enrich themselves fast. Methods and mechanisms illicit as they are, include: The establishment of companies targeting public resources through those banks. Some 20,000 companies, according to a 2007 Auditor General’s report, were not operational at all. Other companies are either not registered or just fictitious, aimed at fleecing pubic coffers with gross impunity. Accordingly, persons close to power but without established business credentials or links with business fraternity use loopholes in the government fiscal rules and regulations to rob the banks of billions of Sudanese pounds loaned from the banks.
The much lauded poverty reduction will hardly occur by 2015, the deadline specified in the MDG.

Written by torit1955

October 12, 2008 at 7:36 am