Senior South Sudanese Official Says His Country Can’t Sacrifice Its Interest for the Sake of Ethiopia

South Sudan cannot sacrifice its interests for the sake of others (Ethiopia), says Abraham Chol, a senior South Sudanese official believed to be close to S.S. President Salva Kiir’s family.

Abraham Chol, the senior South Sudanese official in the office of President Salva Kiir, also said the recent visit by Salva Kiir to Egypt was an important visit because South Sudan values its historic and strategic relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt, according to Nyamilepedia, a South Sudanese news site.

Chol has praised President Kiir’s recent visit to Cairo, saying his country was looking to see more support from Egypt. He added ,“The president’s visit was successful and we agreed to work together (with Egypt) on all issues…we agreed to put the interests first.”

Hours after Kiir landed in Cairo, there were allegations of the existence of a secret deal between Cairo and Juba brokered by Uganda where the two leaders have agreed to protect Egypt’s full rights over usage of the Nile waters without any interruption from upstream countries like Ethiopia or Sudan. In return, Egypt will work to keep South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in power.

According to some media reports, South Sudan president has agreed with his Egyptian counterpart, Al-Sisi, to cooperate together on the Nile water issues, and to stop any Ethiopian government move to continue to build dams on the Blue Nile.

Al-Sisi and Kiir agreed on actions that would include “sabotage and covert activities that would block or delay Ethiopia’s dreams of having a mega dam on the Nile that would supply the country with non-stop electricity for development purposes, reported Nyamilepedia citing reliable sources.

It also added that the actions would include “covert support and training to Ethiopian armed and non-armed opposition groups, supporting popular uprising, lobbying international support for Egypt and isolating Ethiopia diplomatically, in return president Kiir would receive unlimited and unrestricted support from Egypt in return of arms supplies and financial support.”

In the same context, al-Dostour, an Egyptian newspaper, published an article titled: “In Cooperation between Cairo, Juba, and Uganda… Egypt leads a tripartite alliance to siege Ethiopia,” during Salva Kiir’s visit.

The Egyptian newspaper mentioned that Egypt seeks to enhance its movements in Africa and especially with the Nile basin countries.

It also reported that Egypt, Juba, and Uganda are currently forming a tripartite alliance targeting to besiege Ethiopia, support Egypt’s interests in the region, and put pressure on Addis Ababa’s government if necessary.

Moreover, one of Egypt’s top priorities is to enhance its influence on Sudan to put pressure on Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s regime if the situation escalated especially that al-Bashir’s policy toward Egypt is changeable and unstable.

In addition, al-Bashir backs Ethiopia against Egypt, according to al-Dostour newspaper.

Furthermost, Sudan Tribune, an electronic news portal on Sudan and South Sudan, said, “The three leaders agreed to open training camps for Sudanese armed opposition at Uganda-South Sudan border with the view to topple the Sudanese government for supporting the construction of a dam by Ethiopian government on the River Nile.”

“This deal, according to security sources, resulted in dispatching more than big trucks full of Ugandan troops heading to South Sudan,” according to Sudan Tribune.

It added that unconfirmed reports claimed that 20 trucks entered Nimule through Elgu, and eighteen trucks via Ajdumani to Kajokej.

A source told Sudan Tribune that the mission is to chase the armed opposition figures and to clear out rebellion around South Sudan border with Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, though the Uganda government blackmail the people in the region that they are pursuing Uganda Armed opposition in Northern Uganda, Eastern Uganda and West Nile as a mere political propaganda.

Sudan Tribune also pointed to al- Sisi’s visit to Uganda last month followed by unofficial visit of president Museveni to Juba three days after Egypt President visited  Uganda,” in which President Museveni during a closed-door meeting with President Silva Kiir, conveyed the message that he and Egyptian leader to open up a training camp at border with his country.”

According to the Sudanese news site, both Kampala and Juba meetings concluded to provide support to the Sudanese and Ethiopian Armed oppositions which will involve training and providing weapons to SPLM-North, Darfur Rebels both with Military Equipment and full logistics including Finance. “Egypt will supply Uganda then South Sudan will be the corridors to supply the equipment to the SPLM-North, Darfur Rebels and Ethiopian Armed opposition.”

According to media reports, these military training camps will be opened along South Sudan border with Uganda and Congo border.

The main aim behind that “to use Congo Central Africa corridors to launch attacks on Sudanese government than using South Sudan Border. The training Camps will be around Mofok and around Lasu,” said Sudan Tribune.

A security source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that this will be making it easier for transportation of the Equipment by land because by air it will be difficult because South Sudan air-space is under the control of Sudan.

The source further alleged that the Egyptian government had sent 58 senior military commanders to South Sudan through Uganda to access the ground for training for SPLA, Sudanese and Ethiopian rebels.

He also added that the commanders are from different military units, armor, artillery, air-defense and central military intelligence.

Last August, Sudan Tribune cited military sources saying that South Sudanese recruits largely drawn by the ethnic group of President Salva Kiir and his army chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, have been trained by foreign instructors from Egypt and neighboring Uganda to perform airborne landing to seize an enemy’s airfield and retain it until the arrival of the main forces.

In fact, South Sudan government has looked suspiciously at Ethiopia since it hosted South Sudan’s armed opposition leader and leader of SPLM/A-IO Dr. Rick Machar from 2013 to 2015 after a bloody ethnic civil war broke out in the country.

Dr. Riek Machar stayed in Ethiopia until a peace agreement,mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority On Development (IGAD ),was signed in August 2015 after which he returned to South Sudan as First Vice President.

However, Machar fled the country again to South Africa after forces loyal to president Kiir attacked the lightly armed forces of Dr Riek’s SPLM/A-IO in the capital Juba leading to collapse of the peace agreement.

In this context, “The government in Juba was just looking out for its greater interest and could not let another country overshadow it’s interest’s,”according to Abraham Chol-an administrator in Salva Kiir’s office.

He said in a private interview,“We agreed that South Sudan comes first, that’s why we had to talk to the Egyptians as they have more to offer to South Sudan than other neighboring countries.”

When asked if president Salva Kiir’s visit to Egypt and the agreement to work together on the Nile could affect relations with neighboring Ethiopia, the senior official in the presidency replied that his country could not sacrifice it’s interests for the sake of another country.

The South Sudanese official added,“Look my friend…South Sudan cannot continue to sacrifice it’s interests because of other countries…be it Ethiopia or others…no way.”

It is noteworthy that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a sensitive issue to Egypt that fears it would have negative repercussions on its water shares from the Nile river.

Egypt has been seeking allies in the Nile Valley countries to support it’s campaign to stop Ethiopia building the dam and it seems that al-Sisi has finally rallied Uganda’s president Museveni and now South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir in an attempt to” isolate Ethiopia”.

Nyamilepedia said that it called South Sudan’s information ministry to confirm the alleged “dirty deal” was met with no answer.

However, the senior official in the Salva Kiir’s office Abraham Chol gave an implied answer when he told the journalists in a private interview that South Sudan will not sacrifice it’s relations with Egypt because of Ethiopia.

Abraham Chol also concluded,“….It’s our wish, it has been agreed in the close doors meeting….we will stand with Egypt, we cannot sacrifice our relations because of any other countries, Nile water should be allowed to flow freely without any obstruction from Ethiopia or other countries.…”

There is no doubt that Kiir’s latest visit to Egypt and the South Sudanese senior official statement will alarm Ethiopia that shares the same borders with South Sudan.

The latest developments in the South Sudan’s relations with Egypt will raise renew Addis Ababa’s fears that al-Sisi would use Juba to cause unrest on the Ethiopian territories taking advantage of Kiir’s need to restore back his power and stabilize his country from the rebel movement.

It is noteworthy that Ethiopia has accused Egypt of destabilizing the country’s national security.

Last December, the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that there are Egyptian institutions harboring, supporting, and funding terrorist groups in Ethiopia, during his interview on Al- Muqabla show aired on Al-Jazeera. Among these groups is the Oromo Liberation Front, he noted.

This was not the first time that Ethiopia stated such claims against Egypt. In early October, a video showed members from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopian media described as Egyptians.

The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry commented on the video saying that Egypt does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.