South Sudan

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South Sudan: monthly report April 2024

The agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland for access to the port of Berbera remains the most destabilizing issue for regional geopolitics. Relations between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu have reached a new critical point this month with the expulsion of the Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia, Muktar Mohamed Ware, and the closure of Ethiopian consulates in the Puntland and Somaliland regions. The statement from the Somali presidency announcing these measures leaves no room for ambiguity: "The decision was made following actions by the Federal Republic of Ethiopia that violate Somalia's territorial sovereignty," the document reads. The closure of consular missions is significant as it is part of tensions between the Somali federal government and regional governments in Puntland and Somaliland. The Puntland government has announced its self-suspension from the Somali federation to protest constitutional reforms proposed by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud earlier this month, which, according to the Garowe government, would concentrate too much power in the hands of the president. Amidst the new tensions, Somali President Hassan Sheikh flew to Saudi Arabia where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to strengthen ties with Riyadh, while the Somaliland government sent a highlevel delegation to the United Arab Emirates. In this context, a new Kenyan mediation attempt has also ended without success. Nairobi authorities had announced an agreement with the Somali government regarding the dispute through IGAD negotiations, which was promptly rejected by the Mogadishu executive reiterating its red line: no Ethiopian military base in Somaliland; only bilateral agreements to facilitate Addis Ababa's access to the Red Sea for commercial purposes would be conceded. At the end of the month, the G7 foreign ministers also expressed concern over the dispute at the Capri summit. Support for Somali territorial integrity and encouragement for dialogue are the key concepts reiterated by the heads of diplomacies of the G7 countries.

Meanwhile, emboldened by recent victories, Sudan's Sovereign Council cracks down on internal dissent. The judiciary is investigating former civilian Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and 15 Tagadum coalition leaders on charges of incitement to war, undermining constitutional order, and crimes against humanity, all crimes punishable by death. The intention to punish the meeting between the former prime minister and RSF commander "Hemedti" in early January, which helped internationalize the leader of the paramilitaries, is clear. Additionally, loyalists have banned Sky News Arabia, Al Arabiya, and Al Hadat broadcasters due to their "lack of transparency and professionalism." As the belligerents grew more distant, the Sudan Donors Conference was held in Paris. Organized by the governments of France and Germany along with the European Union, the summit aimed to raise funds to address the humanitarian crisis in the country and keep international attention on the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Financially, the forum achieved its goal by raising €2.1 billion, but diplomatically, Paris aimed for more significant outcomes. Indeed, the French summit highlighted France's leadership in European diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis and direct engagement with key international actors. In this context, French President Macron personally appealed to external actors to refrain from funding the war between SAF and RSF. A week after the summit, President Macron spoke with UAE leader Mohamed Bin Zayed to discuss the conflict. Following the call, both parties issued an appeal for a ceasefire and achieving peace that meets the expectations of the Sudanese people. It is not unlikely that this diplomatic tandem will launch new initiatives to resolve the war in the coming months. At the Paris conference, the UAE pledged €100 million to address the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Public finance and internal tensions are the key issues of Ethiopia's politics this
month, with mixed results in both areas. The Paris Club renewed the suspension of Ethiopia's public debt payments, staving off a worsening financial crisis for the time being. However, group representatives tied payment suspension to an agreement (to be reached by the end of June) with the International Monetary Fund, whose experts conducted their first mission in Ethiopia. Internal IMF sources confirm disagreements between the institution and the Ethiopian government, especially regarding the devaluation of the birr, an essential step according to the Fund for implementing an aid program. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian stock exchange completed its planned capital increase, raising $11 million. Relations with the Oromo worsened after the killing of Oromo Liberation Front Leader Bate
Urgessa. Urgessa's disappearance prompted a formal request from the US Senate for a credible and impartial investigation into the incident. The OLF accuses the Ethiopian government of the political leader's assassination. For now, Addis Ababa authorities have arrested 13 individuals, including Urgessa's brother and sister. Amidst these escalating tensions, the Ethiopia Donors Conference was held in Geneva, sponsored by the British government and the United Nations, to raise funds to address the humanitarian and climate
crisis in the country. The conference raised $600 million mainly due to donations from the USA and EU, and the British government hopes to involve other donors soon.

Download the April 2024 report

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