EU’s Africa Agenda: South Sudan ‘Genocide’ and Egyptian Election Mission

Written by | Friday, May 2nd, 2014

A leading European Union diplomat, Alexander Rondos, who is the EU’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa, has warned on Wednesday (30 April) that “all the ingredients leading to genocide” are evident in South Sudan, whereby the country has recently seen “widespread and consistent systematic killing”. While stressing that an internal power struggle has assumed increasingly ethnic characteristics over the course of four months of fighting, Mr Rondos also expressed his concerns that the crisis “risks becoming an ethnic conflict”, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing in “what is becoming widespread and consistent systematic killing”. Rondos’s warning comes after a series of massacres across South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.
The current developments in the country are reminiscent of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 that was fuelled by hate speech and namely radio broadcasts calling for the rape of women of particular ethnicities. To that end, a senior UN official characterized the use of hate-stoking language in the South Sudanese media – with an implicit reference to the Rwanda scenario – as a “game-changer”. The current crisis began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked his vice-president, Riek Machar (two men come from different ethnic groups), accusing him of orchestrating a coup attempt.
In a separate development, the European Union has condemned mass death penalties against opponents of Egypt’s rulers, but pressed ahead with its controversial plans to send an observation mission to monitor the upcoming presidential election in the country on 26-27 May. Brussels announced that it would dispatch a total of 100 officials to Egypt, whereby the final number of observers is at the lower end of the EU’s initial expectations that were around 100-150 observers. It is all but certain that this election will be won by Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, a former general who led the Egyptian army’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi last July.
Human rights groups report that since the removal of Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, over 1,300 Egyptians have been killed by the security forces. Moreover, Egypt was again in the spotlight when the country’s courts have handed down death sentences on 1,212 people. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement criticizing the death penalties, emphasizing “a very worrying trend regarding the compliance of Egypt with its international human rights obligations, as well as the seriousness of Egypt’s transition towards democracy”.

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