SUDAN WATCH: S. Sudan: SPLA denies killing NCP members in Raja County - 'Sloppy reporting has fueled misperceptions of election-related killings'

Friday, April 30, 2010

S. Sudan: SPLA denies killing NCP members in Raja County - 'Sloppy reporting has fueled misperceptions of election-related killings'

Noteworthy Quote - re media standards
"I urge all the news media, election observers and agents, and political parties to be responsible in their reporting of incidents. They should confirm the facts of such incidents before making allegations that cannot be substantiated or supported with credible evidence, and those failing to do so should be held accountable."
- Cde. Dr. Anne Itto, SPLM Southern Sector deputy secretary general, Thursday 15 April 2010
Source: See report here below.
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Sudan Watch Editor's Note: On Thursday 15 April 2010, while scrolling through a website called i On SUDAN, I noticed a report (marked as 'unverified') relating to some news reports (listed here below) which I held back from chronicling here at Sudan Watch until the picture became more clear. Here is a copy of the report (red highlighting is mine) followed by my collection of related reports, for future reference and studying at a later date.

Copy of report published at website i On SUDAN:
Sloppy reporting has fueled misperceptions of election-related killings
Location: Juba, Sudan
Date: 15 April 2010 01:45
Report description:
SPLM Headquarters: Southern Sector Deputy Secretary General responds to inaccurate media reports of SPLM-linked election violence

JUBA (15 Apr) – On Thursday, Cde. Dr. Anne Itto, SPLM Southern Sector deputy secretary general, released the following statement after several media reports have incorrectly reported claims from opposition party leaders that their members were killed at the hands of security and/or military personnel at the direction of or in allegiance to SPLM.

"On April 15th, several news sources, including a reputable international wire service - Reuters - reported that nine (9) people were killed in W. Bahr el Ghazal state. After consulting with security officials and other prominent members of the state government, I was able to confirm that five (5) people were in fact killed in Timsah payam of Raja county. An SPLA soldier returned to his home to find his wife with another man. The soldier killed the man and relatives of the slain man, upon hearing of the incident, rushed to the scene and killed four other people including the husband of the women. This was purely a crime of passion that resulted in revenge killing. It was not politically motivated. I wish to offer my condolences to the families who lost loved ones as a result of the terrible act of violence.

Without checking their facts, Reuters inaccurately reported a claim by NCP that among the nine dead in Raja, included the local president of NCP. I spoke to him from Wau about two hours ago and I can assure you that he is alive and well.

“A criminal investigation has been opened regarding these killings, which are not election-related. Such information has been independently verified by numerous sources to include election observers, and local police and government officials. Attempts by NCP to link SPLM to this crime of passion is irresponsible. It is also irresponsible for journalists to include such accusations in their reporting without exercising discretion over their validity.

"In another example, on April 13th Lam Akol went to the media to claim that two of his supporters in Unity State had been killed by SPLM soldiers, and implied that this was done in coordination with SPLM. This claim has since been independently investigated and it turns out that it was scuffle between some groups and we have unconfirmed reports of injuries but no deaths.

"Why did the Sudan Tribune run so fast with such an allegation without confirming whether or not what Lam Akol is saying is true or false? In fact, the unnamed journalist conveniently writes that "The report could not immediately be confirmed by independent sources." Why was this published if it could not be independently verified? This is more like tabloid journalism than news, but unfortunately it is being taken as fact by their readers.

"The media needs to do more than simply publish claims by our opponents about deaths and violence, and that such acts are linked to SPLM. They need to independently confirm these reports. Anything less is equivalent to supporting the spread of rumors and innuendos.

"This type storytelling journalism will only lead to misperception about the real situation on the ground and foment tensions and threaten stability of the South. I urge all the news media, election observers and agents, and political parties to be responsible in their reporting of incidents. They should confirm the facts of such incidents before making allegations that cannot be substantiated or supported with credible evidence, and those failing to do so should be held accountable."

"The SPLA, police service, intelligence units and other security organs of the state are controlled and directed by the state – not SPLM, the political party. Our party is a non-violent democratic movement who has fought for decades for the individual freedoms that so many Southern Sudanese are enjoying today. Furthermore, the actions of rogue security agents and/or military personnel should not reflect official government policy, let alone SPLM policy.

"To imply that the political leadership of SPLM is actively colluding with security and military officials on the ground is a claim that has not been substantiated with any proof. We do not have SPLM political agents stationed with security orchestrating a mass suppression of the opposition as has been implied by our opponents and the news media.

"We support the free and fair conduct of elections in all of Sudan and continue to fight for the marginalized people and all Sudanese through our implementation of the CPA and the leadership of a legislature and government that is comprised of not one political party, but many.
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Related reports

Ref: On Thursday 15 April 2010 several news sources reported that nine (9) people were killed in W. Bahr el Ghazal state. According to Dr Itto's report above, five (5) people were in fact killed in Timsah payam of Raja county in Western Bahr-El-Ghazal state, southern Sudan

SPLA denies killing NCP members in Raja County
From Sudan Tribune by Manyang Mayom
Friday 16 April 2010:
April 15, 2010 (RUMBEK) — The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) official spokesman Maj-Gen. Kuol Diem Kuol has strongly denied SPLA involvement in the death of five members belonging to the National Congress Party (NCP) who were killed in Western Bahr-El-Ghazal state at Al-Timsha Payam of Raja county yesterday by an SPLA armed man who appeared in military uniform.

UN-sponsored Radio Miraya FM-101 broadcast this news item on Thursday, quoting NCP official Agnes Lukudu, chief of the party in South Sudan, who claimed that five members of her party were killed by SPLA soldiers at the polling canter in Al-Timsha payam of Raja county of Wau.

Maj –Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol denied her version of the the story saying that "this story was reported by NCP – what happened was an adultery case, it has nothing to do with election and it has nothing to do with politics. Somebody called Abdul found someone having committed adultery with is wife in his house during the midday – this is criminal issue and people should not mix crimes with politics."

"I don’t know what is happening to the people? Why everybody who has made sure to have failed in this election holds SPLA as a scapegoat? Those of who you take SPLA harassment as a solution are making a great mistake –it is a shame to take SPLA harassment for defeat in election and I want to tell them that they must be courageous toward their election – SPLA is not harassing any candidates," he noted.

The SPLA spokesman was speaking to our correspondent by phone from Juba. Along with his message the SPLM Deputy Secretary General Dr. Anne Itto on Thursday issued a strongly worded rebuke of media that had publicized this incident. She said that five rather than nine people were killed and added, “Without checking their facts, Reuters inaccurately reported a claim by NCP that among the nine dead in Raja, included the local president of NCP. I spoke to him from Wau about two hours ago and I can assure you that he is alive and well.”

“A criminal investigation has been opened regarding these killings, which are not election-related. Such information has been independently verified by numerous sources to include election observers, and local police and government officials. Attempts by NCP to link SPLM to this crime of passion is irresponsible. It is also irresponsible for journalists to include such accusations in their reporting without exercising discretion over their validity,” stated Itto.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Raja County Luwis Ramadan has confirmed that the killings were driven by personal motivation and not political. The Raja county official confirmed that the killings happened five days ago and he questioned the NCP leader’s motive for withholding the announcement until now well after the incident is over in people’s minds.

SPLM state secretary spokesman Cde James Deng Dimo affirmed that it has been confirmed that at least five men were killed in Raga County of Western Bahr-El-Ghazal State in Timsha Payam in Raja County. Deng explained that the fighting that resulted in the killings had no connection with the elections process nor even occurred near to any polling station there in Al-Timsha.

The official explained that fighting started when a solider who had spent six months away from his family returned back from where he was deployed and caught his wife with another man. And then the man who was away began stabbing with a knife the man who had taken his wife. When the news reached the relatives of the man who was killed, they began by cocking their guns and running to the place where their relative was killed.

He added that they began by firing guns at those who were there until they killed five people. "I have to repeat that the fight has no connection with the elections or something to do with political; it is between the military men over a woman."

Dimo concluded that this incident has not affected the voting in Al-Timsha.

In a separate report, SPLA spokesman Kuol Deim Kuol denied a report that he suggested was spread by a woman who is on the election staff in Northern Bhar-El-Ghazal state (NBGS). Her statement broadcast on Miraya FM had suggested that SPLA has arrested the representative of a political party in NBGS. "First of all I want to underline, SPLA did not and will not arrest any official staff and we did not arrest any party official in NBGS."

Kuol explained that "whom we have arrested are SPLA officers and NCOs plus other enlisted personnel who are being misused by the independent candidate in NBGS."

"There are officers and NCOs and men being used by an independent candidate Deng Aturjong, and Athuar Akueng plus other independent candidates in NBGS — those guy are using SPLA soldiers to campaign for them."

Maj-Gen. Kuol asserted that participation in politics is not allowed in the SPLA and so under the present circumstances the SPLA division commander in Wunyiek asked approval to arrest those soldiers involved. The SPLA general headquarters in Juba granted him approval to arrest those soldiers. (ST)
Sudan election violence kills at least 5 in south
From The Associated Press (Khartoum, Sudan)
Thursday, 15 April 2010 - excerpt:
A statement from the ruling National Congress party said southern soldiers killed five of its supporters Wednesday in the southern province of Western Bahr el-Ghazal. A party spokesman said nine were killed. The discrepancy could not immediately be reconciled.
Nine killed in south Sudan
From Agence Presse France (Khartoum, Sudan)
Thursday, 15 April 2010 - via Capital FM Kenya:
KHARTOUM, Apr 15 - Sudan's southern army said nine people were killed, including a member of President Omar al-Beshir's National Congress Party, in violence on Thursday that was unrelated to nationwide elections.

Lam Akol, a candidate for the leadership of south Sudan, had said on Tuesday that two voters had been killed after the southern army opened fire at a polling station at Riak in the southern Unity State.

But the southern army said the killings actually happened in the remote village of Temsah, according to Kuol Deim Kuol, spokesman for the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The dead, who also included seven civilians and a soldier, were slain as a result of a dispute about "adultery" that had "nothing to do with politics or elections," he added.

"A member of the NCP has committed adultery with the wife of a soldier of SPLM in the home of the soldier" who killed both of them, Kuol said.

Coming on the last day of landmark presidential, legislative and local elections, the incident led to clashes in which six NCP members were killed, before the soldier who had been cheated on committed suicide, he added.
Killings, harassment mar last day of Sudan vote
From Reuters by Skye Wheeler and Opheera McDoom
Thursday, 15 April 2010 8:59am EDT:
JUBA/KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) - Sudan's ruling party said on Thursday that the southern army had killed nine people, including at least five of its officials, stoking tensions during voting in the first open elections in 24 years.

Oil-producing Sudan entered the last of a five days of presidential and legislative polls that mark a key test of stability for Africa's largest country, emerging from decades of civil war and preparing for a 2011 southern referendum on independence.

Voting has been largely peaceful, despite logistical problems and reported harassment of independent and opposition candidates.

Agnes Lokudu, head of the northern-dominated National Congress Party (NCP) in semi-autonomous south Sudan said the region's separate army had targeted and murdered at least five of its party officials and four other people earlier this week.
South Sudan's army said it was an individual crime of passion by one of their soldiers who had found the local NCP chief in bed with his wife.

"At night some (southern army) soldiers came to the home of the president of the National Congress Party in Raja, and killed him and eight other people, Lokudu said.

Raja county is in Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in a remote part of south Sudan. The attack was earlier this week.

On Thursday southern Sudanese observers said security forces had removed 19 monitors from polling stations, assaulting one.

Analysts said the violence was a worrying sign of rising tensions as the polls enter the crucial stage of counting, which begins on Friday. Results are due by April 20.

"The coming days are really when things are going to potentially get heated," said Maggie Fick, an analyst from the U.S.-based Enough project.

"Maybe these are isolated incidents but the last thing we need is out of control security personnel and that could easily happen in the coming stages."

The ex-southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) head Salva Kiir, is likely to retain his title of south Sudan president, vital ahead of a January 2011 southern vote on independence which many expect to result in secession.

A wave of boycotts by political parties in much of the north left little doubt the NCP's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would win the national presidential elections. Facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for war crimes in Darfur, he hopes a victory would legitimize his rule.

Darfur's U.N.-African Union peacekeepers (UNAMID) confirmed that four of its South African police component were abducted in the western region wracked by a seven-year uprising.

On Thursday a group purporting to be the kidnappers of the two men and two women told Reuters they wanted a ransom of around $450,000 but gave no further details.

HARASSMENT OF COMPETITION

But in both north and south Sudan, the two dominant parties have been rattled by competition from independent or opposition candidates in some of the simultaneous elections for state and national parliaments and 24 state governors.

Many opposition and independent candidates have complained of harassment by authorities in both the south and north.

"There has been intimidation against supporters who are being told if they support me they will be arrested, that after the general elections are over they will kill supporters of the independent candidates," said Adil Senderi, an independent candidate for the largely separate southern Sudan parliament.

Senderi was just one of many independent candidates, opposition groups and Sudanese election monitors decrying what they said was an attempt to alter the outcome of the vote by ruling powers in both the north and south.

The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies said "systemic mechanisms to confuse the electorate and hinder engagement, such as the switching of symbols and manipulation of the registration list, are beginning to emerge."

In Khartoum, two members of youth activism group Girifna said they were beaten by NCP officials on Wednesday.
"They were beating us and we were begging the police around the voting station for help -- but they did not intervene," Nagla Sid Ahmed told Reuters.

International observers from the Carter Center and the European Union cannot comment until after the elections, But former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has made largely positive comments about the voting process.
Sudan ruling party says nine members killed in south
From Reuters CANADA - Thursday, 15 April 2010 3:36am EDT
(Reporting by Skye Wheeler; Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Michael Roddy)
JUBA, Sudan - Sudan's ruling party said Thursday that the southern army had killed nine of its officials during the first open elections in 24 years...

Sudan ruling party says nine killed in south
From Reuters AlertNet - Thursday, 15 April 2010 10:54:01 GMT - full report:
(Reporting by Skye Wheeler; Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Robert Woodward) - Source: Reuters (Adds detail, southern army comments, clarifies casualties)
JUBA, Sudan, April 15 (Reuters) - Sudan's ruling party said on Thursday the southern army had killed at least five of its officials and four other people during the first open elections in 24 years.

Agnes Lokudu, head of the northern-dominated National Congress Party in semi-autonomous south Sudan, had earlier said all nine killed were party officials, and that the murders were politically motivated.

The south Sudanese army (SPLA) said the deaths were the result of a crime of passion by one of its soldiers.

"At night some (southern army) soldiers came to the home of the president of the National Congress Party in Raja, and killed him and eight other people," Lokudu said.

Raja county is in Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in a remote part of south Sudan.

Sudan's elections entered the last day of a five-day voting period on Thursday and have been largely free from major violence. Opposition boycotts in much of the north left little competition for incumbent President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

But tension has been high in the south between parties and independents opposing the SPLM who have complained of arrests and harassment.

Lokudu said the killings happened some days ago but that people in the area had been too scared to report them.

Because most people voted for the NCP "the (army) got very angry and they shot him (the local president)," Lokudu said.

The southern army said one SPLA soldier had caught the NCP's top official in the village of Tensah in Raja county committing adultery with his wife, so he shot them both and six other "Arabs" who tried to stop him.

"This is clearly an adultery case and nothing to do with elections and politics. The NCP is just trying to politicise it," said SPLA spokesman Kuol Diem Kuol.

The ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) dominates the southern government and its leader Salva Kiir, who is also south Sudan's president, is likely to win the presidential vote in the semi-autonomous region.

Sudanese are voting in presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections supposed to transform the oil producer into a democracy, a key part of a 2005 north-south peace deal which ended more than two decades of civil war.

Under the accord, southern Sudanese will also vote in a January 2011 referendum on independence. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler; Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Robert Woodward)
Sudan ruling party says nine members killed in south
From Reuters UK - Thursday, 15 April 2010 8:34am BST
(Reporting by Skye Wheeler; Writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Michael Roddy):
JUBA, Sudan - Sudan's ruling party said on Thursday that the southern army had killed nine of its officials during the first open elections in 24 years...

Sudan 'poll shooting' kills nine
From Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera and Agencies)
Thursday, 15 April 2010 - excerpt:
Speaking as the five-day presidential, parliamentary and local polls came to an end on Thursday, Agnes Lokudu, the head of the National Congress Party in south Sudan, blamed the killing on the region's local military.

"Three days ago at night some southern army soldiers came to the home of the president of the National Congress Party (NCP) in Raja, and killed him and eight other members of the NCP," Lokuda said.

Lokudu said the killings in Western Bahr al-Ghazal state were motivated by anger that many people in the area had voted for the NCP.

"This was a passionate crime to do with a wife - a feud that led to a shooting between the husband and lover," Suzanne Jambo, the head of the SPLM's external relations office, said. "This is not political."

Sudan's Elections 2010

The NCP claims that nine of its members were killed by southern army soldiers in election violence [Reuters]
Report: Sudanese elections turn deadly
From United Press International (Khartoum, Sudan)
Thursday, 15 April 2010 - excerpt:
Sudanese newspapers indicate nine members of the National Congress Party were killed in south Sudan, a report disputed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

Newspapers in Khartoum Thursday quoted NCP officials as saying, "(The) killing was committed by a member of the SPLA in the wake of altercations on the polling process," China's government-run news agency, Xinhua, reported.

"Nine NCP leading members were killed on Tuesday at Tumsah administrative unit in Raja ... in south Sudan after altercations with a member of the SPLA, the military arm of Sudan People's Liberation Movement," al-Ray al-A'm newspaper reported Thursday.

Xinhua said an SPLA military official disputed the incident.

"Such incident has never taken place. It is a fabricated and baseless story," the source told Xinhua. "The fabricated killing story comes as part of political harassment and it is an extension of a series of accusations by the ruling party to distort the SPLA and SPLM."

No incidents of violence were reported Thursday, the last day of polling in Sudan's general elections.
[Note from Sudan Watch Ed: It seems UPI has deleted its report and replaced it with another entitled "Ban applauds Sudan elections"]

Electoral Violence As Sudan Polls Close
From Enough Project at www.enoughproject.org
By Amanda Hsiao, Thursday 15 April 2010 - excerpt:
As five days of intense balloting for hundreds of government seats across 16,000 polling centers came to a close today in Sudan, simmering tensions, a reminder of the tremendous potential for violence that still remains, began to emerge in the largely peaceful exercise.

Violence broke out in the westernmost corner of South Sudan, where soldiers in the South Sudanese army, or SPLA, shot and killed nine individuals, five of whom were officials of the ruling party, the NCP. The motivations for the killings are unclear—the SPLA claims it was an act of personal vengeance—but the timing of the act, as voters were going to the polling stations to vote between the two political rivals, should not be overlooked. [...]

Fighting also broke out at a polling center in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, in South Sudan. According to an undisclosed source, SPLA soldiers clashed with locals at a voting station and nine independent candidates were arrested. On the same day, an SPLM candidate reportedly interfered with the ballot boxes. [...]
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Ref: On Tuesday 13 April 2010, Lam Akol went to the media to claim that two of his supporters in Unity State, southern Sudan had been killed by SPLM soldiers, and implied that this was done in coordination with SPLM

Two voters killed, one candidate wounded in South Sudan: opposition leader
From English.news.cn - Wednesday, 14 April 2010:
KHARTOUM, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Two voters were killed and a candidate was wounded in the Unity State in South Sudan on Tuesday, the third polling day in Sudan's general elections, an opposition leader said.

"Two voters were killed and a candidate was wounded when the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers opened fire on the voters at a polling station in the Unity State," Lam Akol, the chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), told Xinhua here on Tuesday.

The SPLA is the military arm of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the dominant party in South Sudan.

Akol, the only candidate contesting against SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit for the post of South Sudan government president, went on saying that "the SPLA opened fire randomly, which resulted in the deaths of two voters and injury of one candidate."

Akol slammed at the SPLM, saying "the ministers and commissioners belonging to the SPLM and SPLA are intervening in the polling operations and threatening the citizens."

He added that commissioners of western and eastern Bahral- Ghazal states took the ballot boxes to their homes.

He called on Sudan's National Elections Commission (NEC) to take necessary measures to protect the voters and prevent the harassment made by the SPLM supporters.

No comment so far has been made by the South Sudan government or the SPLM on the incident.

The former rebel SPLM in South Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with Khartoum in 2005 to end a two-decade civil war between the north and the south, and has become a partner of the ruling National Congress Party in the current Sudanese government.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
Lam Akol says two SLPM-DC members killed in Unity State
From Sudan Tribune - Wednesday, 14 April 2010 - excerpt:
April 13, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Lam Akol, a candidate for the presidency of south Sudan government and leader of SPLM Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) said on Tuesday that two voters had been killed after the southern army opened fire at a polling station in Unity State.

"I was informed by telephone that at 11 am (0800 GMT), the southern army went to a polling station in Riak in (the southern) Unity State and opened fire, killing two voters and wounding one candidate," said Lam Akol, who is challenging southern leader Salva Kiir in elections for the head of the semi-autonomous government of south Sudan.

The report could not immediately be confirmed by independent sources.
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Postscript

THANKS to Ndesanjo Macha for bringing to our attention 'Sudan Sham Elections 2010 Campaign' sudansham2010.org - and its new phase in activism at http://ionsudan.net/ in his commentary at Global Voices Friday, 16 April 2010 entitled Sudan: Using the web to promote fair elections, justice and democracy.

Note, according to the About page at website 'Sudan Sham Elections 2010 Campaign':
"We are regular citizens around the 50 United States and DC, standing with the people of Sudan—the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and the brutally oppressed—in demanding truth and strength. An indicted war criminal, responsible for millions of deaths, will never be a legitimate leader. Peace, protection, and justice will come from strength in effort and conviction from our leaders.

The Sudan Sham Elections 2010 network is committing to sustained action for peace in Sudan. Our new phase in activism is i On Sudan. Please participate!

iOnSudan.net

i On Sudan connects on-the-ground reports of violence, abuses, and other events to advocacy in the United States and around the world to immediately mobilize leaders towards immediate response on behalf of innocent civilians and to promote peace, protection, and justice in all of Sudan."

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