South Sudanese government soldiers’ attack on foreign peace monitors has raised concerns that the government may not be keen on the implementation of the September agreement.
Four military officers from Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan working under the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), were detained for five hours and beaten in Luri, Central Equatoria by South Sudanese soldiers.
The incident, which occurred on December 18, involved a training centre of the National Security Service (NSS), where the monitors had gone to verify reports that President Salva Kiir’s government was training new recruits contrary to the agreement.
The security arrangements in the agreement require all armed groups to stay in their cantonment areas and put a halt on fresh recruitment by both the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
In a letter to the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and chair of Igad Council of Ministers Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, CTSAMVM’s Gen Desta Abiche Ageno said the government forces assaulted and illegally detained senior ranking male and female officers and support personnel from Igad guarantor nations. Gen Ageno said during their detention, the CTSAMVM members were blindfolded and handcuffed, beaten up and stripped of their clothing.
The three male members of the team were stripped down to their underwear and the sole female member forced to remove all her clothing and remain completely naked.
They were also robbed of their money and items such as silver wedding rings. The soldiers threatened to kill the team driver for having transported the team to Luri, some 10km from Juba.
“This incident is a flagrant and gave violation of the two cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the parties to internal conflict in South Sudan on December 2017 and the September 2018 agreement,” said Gen Ageno.
He added that the incident raises serious question about the safety of the monitoring and verification teams and the commitment of the government to respecting the requirements of the agreement. He called upon Igad to investigate and punish the 10 soldiers that were involved.
In a separate statement, CTSAMVM said that the monitoring and verification team based in Juba of Col Muhammad Fadul , Col Adina, Maj Chemjor and Leju Michael (the driver) were blindfolded, their hands tied and moved to a jail.
CTSAMVM demanded that the government immediately conduct an investigation; “holding perpetrators accountable for these despicable acts and their chain of command responsible for its utter failure of leadership,” said the statement.
There are some 12 teams composed of international monitors located in the affected areas of South Sudan tasked with verifying the compliance by the parties and armed groups with the cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreement.
Allan Boswell, the International Crisis Group senior analyst on South Sudan, told The EastAfrican that this was the most brazen violation of the peace process as it targeted officials from the Igad countries that are supposed to ensure the implementation.
“Given how the region has been reluctant in the past, it is time for it to take some action. If the countries don’t act when their citizens are attacked, what then would they do if the signatories violate the agreement? The region must send a strong message to the government that could guard against future violations,” said Mr Boswell.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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