Archive for: July 2013

The Camel has gone through the Eye of the Needle!

BY: Tongun Lo Loyuong, EUROPE, AUG/01/2013, SSN:

Now that what hitherto seemed impossible, risky, unimaginable and atypical of the modus operandi of the President has taken place and the camel has gone through the eye of the needle, what next for South Sudan?

Now that not only the government’s exit door was pushed wide open to accommodate a camel or two on the way out but the door that also seemed open for a stormy wind to blow in, have been firmly closed and will perhaps dictate the outcome of the formation of the new cabinet, what must our leaders do?

Could this be a turning point and an end to the “open tent” or “appeasement policies” that have been identified as the menacing seal of the President leading to the fateful July 23rd, 2013 day? Could this be a game changer in the race to the next presidency of South Sudan come 2015 general elections?

Most importantly though, where does this leave us going forward, in terms of the making or unmaking of South Sudan?

Breathtakingly, as we continue to keenly observe the political unfolding in the land with intrigue and anxiety, there are several catchphrases around which a consensus seems to have been built thus far.

Almost all South Sudan’s stakeholders are unanimously agreeable in the wake of these latest political developments that the promise lies in political prudence and staying calm; expeditious and transparent formation of a new ethnically representative and accountable cabinet; and the upholding of democratic principles and human rights and the delivery of social and economic services.

On the ground, the current political situation and the race to the formation of the new cabinet is, however, complexified by what looks like the blurring of lines between that which is opposition and that which is loyalist. Who exactly is what, is anyone’s imagination.

In what can be credibly described as a “nyakama” (a scramble) for a piece of the pie in the upcoming lean and hopefully clean new cabinet, the opposition seems to have awfully turned into presidential loyalist. Some Juba based analysts have sarcastically characterized the scramble for office in the upcoming new cabinet as a daily formula 1 race to the presidential palace, where some had to change their car wheels and refuel in the process!

Indeed the current unprincipled sham that we are witnessing where the President’s friends and foes alike are indistinguishable at the moment and are both seen to be padding the President on the back for his latest political move of cabinet dissolution must be taken with caution by the presidential advisers.

This is a decisive make-or-break moment not only in the President’s political career but in the direction that will determine the future of South Sudan. No more belly politicians in the new cabinet, please. The President must begin to listen to those who make him cry rather than the clowns that make him laugh.

He must choose carefully and wisely, however long the consultations take and preferably give chance to new, young, vibrant and competent faces in the final setup of the new cabinet.

If the rumors from the corridors of presidential palace are true that the President’s new political agenda is to go back to the drawing board and revisit the vision and direction of the liberation struggle to empower the meek, the orphans and the widows and deliver basic services of clean drinkable water, health care, quality education, bread on the table and infrastructure development more generally, then what better place to reflect these intents and purposes than in a new people-friendly and policy-driven cabinet?

Be that as it may, the change agents including the international partners have been dumbfounded and caught off guard by the rapidly evolving political terrain in South Sudan. We are all left scratching our heads thinking the President has got big balls to pull this off!

But this is now an opportune moment for the President to show the whole world what he is made off in terms of moral consciousness, and promoting the widely implored democracy, human rights, liberties and freedoms, and impartial rule of law enforcement.

The world eagerly anticipates seeing the President defy the rhetoric of totalitarianism that is seen to have closely accompanied his every step in recent times, imagined or real. One way of restoring confidence on the President’s good faith is to revoke the Chairman’s order that banned the Secretary General of the SPLM, Mr. Pagan Amum from traveling and curtailed his freedom of expression.

There should not be anything to hide any longer even on the corruption front. It is time to come clean. Such a symbolic political gesture should bode well with the transparency personnel and those who are currently confused and paranoid about some looming appeal to authoritarianism in the land.

The party documents must urgently be passed, and the convention to elect a new Chairperson or re-elect the existing one be convened at the earliest convenience, in time for a timely conduct of the 2015 general elections.

On his part Mr. Amum must agree to exercise his freedom of movement and speech responsibly in a manner that will not be interpreted as violating previously signed confidentiality contracts if any, nor be seen as stirring tribal hatred or inciting political violence in the country.

In doing so the President will appear to be equally subject to the Supreme Law of the Land and respects individual rights and liberties, including that of freedom of expression as enshrined in the South Sudan Transitional Constitution, a constitution that many see him to be violating at will nowadays.

Separately, it is encouraging that the former Vice President has led the way in providing the promising and reassuring signs that this political storm in South Sudan may well come to pass without wrecking and sinking the ship.

Credit to him, Dr. Machar was the first to quell any lingering fears on potential eruption of violent carnage in the land by urging not only his political support base to remain calm and that the situation will be resolved politically, but he also warned the army on more than one occasion in the past few days, to stay away from current political developments in South Sudan.

Not only that Dr. Riek went on to publicly heap some morale and confidence boosting praises on the national army by commending the army discipline as crucial to the current prevention of violence and the relative peace and stability that many were not expecting.

If this remains the case, this is turning out to be a healthy non-violent political battle indeed, and may serve as a measure of how far democracy and non-violence culture is being rediscovered in South Sudan.

Of course this does not mean that the current storm has been entirely withered just yet. Much hinges on the exercise of self-restraint by all stakeholders from the President to the foot-soldier. But that Dr. Machar has at least publicly acknowledged the constitutionality of his removal by the President though not necessarily the removal of the elected governors of Unity and Lake States, may serve as a platform for managing South Sudanese political differences with civility and peaceful dialogue.

Mr. Amum seems equally on board by reiterating that he will examine the constitutionality of his suspension in the party’s constitution before engaging discussing with the President.

What most people seem to be oblivious to in the former Vice President’s avid stance on peaceful resolution of conflicts is that he continued to be unjustly haunted by his violent political past. But with the way he has conducted himself in recent times, the man must be given a break.

For those who seem to forget, Dr. Machar also has some remarkable records as a man of peace, and has brokered several regional and local peace and reconciliation agreements whether between LRA and the government of Uganda or between the President and the late Dr. John Garang in 2004.

Nonetheless, building on the current peaceful dialogue as the only amicable manner by which the present political differences and challenges must be addressed in the land, three recommendations cannot be overstated enough moving forward in peace and civility in the land: reconciliation, reconciliation and again reconciliation.

With every challenge comes opportunity. What is needed in South Sudan at the moment is exploring the window of opportunity in the current political fracas. The national healing, peace and reconciliation seems to provide that window to permanently address past and present political, social as well as economic issues and arrest any potential fall into political violence.

But first the political rhetoric must be toned down. We must refrain from stretching it.

Most importantly, current political crisis cannot be seen in isolation from past political beef mainly resulting from the eruption of South-South inter-communal violence in 1991, which was precipitated by similar political power struggle over contesting claims of vision and direction of the liberation struggle that had developed in the SPLA high command and structure, between Dr. Riek Machar, and the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the SPLA Commander in Chief.

It is conventional wisdom that the 1991 deadly rift in the liberation movement that left thousands of self-inflicted tragic deaths in South Sudanese ranks is yet to be amicably resolved.

The church which tried only managed to forge a semblance of reconciliation between belligerent parties to the conflict on the grassroots level through the people-to-people peace and reconciliation process, but fell short on reconciling the top-level political leadership in the land.

The result was a fragile patchwork assembly of unity but differing ideologies in the political leadership of South Sudan. It was understandable because the aim was to ensure the navigation of the struggle to the shores of an independent South Sudan. But the plastered upon wounds of that crisis remains and will continue to re-open unless healing through a genuine reconciliation process is taken seriously.

As the veteran professor Peter Adwok Nyaba is recently cited to have forcefully admonished, “I don’t think the problem is between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar struggling for power. It is much deeper than that. It is a problem that is as old as the SPLM. It characterized the split with Anya-nya II in 1983/84.

The SPLM/SPLA did not learn a lesson from that split in order to create space for reconciliation and reunification in 1988. This led to the Nasir Declaration when Riek and Lam Akol declared that ‘Garang must go now.’

Again there were no lessons drawn and they came back in 2002 and 2003, they’re just welcomed into the fold. Political contradiction don’t dissolve, they must be resolved….”

As South Sudan commemorates the selfless sacrifices of its martyrs, only honest reconciliation and peaceful dialogue to resolve current disagreements and political challenges in the land can ensure that South Sudan’s fallen heroes and heroines can rest in eternal peace.

tongunlolyuong@gmail.com

Toposa Raiders attacked Budi county: PRESS STATEMENT

Press Statement: For Immediate Release, JUL/31/2013;

Toposa Raiders burned down Eight (8) homes wounding a deaf woman as village people reportedly ran for their safety into Bushes around Lotiathe homes, Lotukei Payam. In the same span of time, Chief of Ngauro, BUDI County of Eastern Equatoria State, in the Republic of South Sudan was gunned down by perpetrators believed to be coming and heading back to Kapoeta South County.

On June 28, 2013, heavily armed Toposa raiders believed to come from Kapoeta South County attacked a village called Tababar, in Lotukei Payam, BUDI County, killing one woman and wounding two others. The wounded victims are currently undergoing recovery process in Chukudum Civil Hospital.

Again, on a similar instance, July 14, 2013, the same reported raiders attacked the same village wounding a deaf woman, burning eight (8) homes to ashes and an unspecified number of people are still unaccounted for. Many goats were taken headed to South Kapoeta (http://www.radiomiraya.org/news-202/south-sudan/11617-mp-seeks-intervention-against-rising-killings-in-budi.html#gsc.)

We, BUDI community in Diaspora are deeply troubled with this senseless and unprovoked bulling, killing of innocent persons, burning of homes & displacing many more men, women, children from their homestead by unruly armed Toposa raiders from Kapoeta South County.

Secondly, BUDI community in Diaspora condemn in a strongest term possible this kind of inhumane atrocious act.

*We call upon the government of the Republic of South Sudan to take its responsibility to protect the people & provide security. Protection to the people of BUDI County must be equated to providing security and to any citizen living in part of the periphery of the Republic of South Sudan.

The whole of Payam is hardly served by any police presence with the exception of the Military post Near Nadapal. This is a disservice to the community service with such lack of Government presence since the impressive comprehensive peace (CPA) was inked in Naivasha-Kenya.

Those who recently witnessed the verification of Lorema Boma incidence would have seen, if any services or Government present in that geographical territory closed to the “Hot- Spring Water” bordering Uganda Republic. Such places are un-patrolled triggering unnecessary bulling and innocent killings.

In the most strongest term, we task & call upon Governor of Eastern Equatoria State, Mr. Louise Lobong Lojore, to stand up to his stewardship for the people of Budi County & send organized force to go and pursue the killers and to bring them to face justice; just like the recent Lorema Boma few months ago.

By rising up our eyes after such great loss for the Republic of South Sudan, we heartedly call upon UMISS, international Red Cross, and other international NGOs to quickly visit the area to assess the situation, the dead and provide the victims with aid or assistance they need.

We are also following up of an ongoing killing in Ngauro-Tala in Loudo area after a failed peace negotiated after that big Massacre of 2007 and now the killing of the chief.

We are willing to dig out the past resolutions of that Conference to make them work and implemented with the help of the willing lovers or supporters like Humanitarian & local NGOs’. We are also questioning why Budi since the time of CPA continued to be termed as “NGOS” no go zone or given famous name as Lever 4. Could this be a deliberate act of denying Budi county and its people with services?

To this extent, we call upon the Government of Eastern Equatoria State to be serious & work for inter-counties’ peace among neighbouring pastoralist and peasant Communities. Loss of innocent & their dear lives should not be allowed to continue. It must be discouraged or stopped and meaningful programs that allow peace and cohesive collaborations must be given chance to work alongside each other supported by government through income generating programs/loans availability.

We also appeal to the Government of South Sudan to instruct the State Government of Eastern Equatoria to find the sleeping file & Re-Instate the peace conference’s Resolutions conducted between Kapoeta & Budi County after the Massacre of men & women in Ngauro in 2007. The past & the then lengthy agreed beautiful Peace Conference Resolutions between Kapoeta & Budi County must be brought where it is shelved and be implemented in the entirety to help avert such barbaric killing and burning of properties/food.

In conclusion, we appeal for UNMIS or Humanitarian wing to be established & stationed in Lotukei Hot-spring water point and Ngauro-area including Maji in Budi County. This will help monitor and reduce such recurring killing of the innocent people who normally go about their self-help-reliance/activities.

Naturally, Budi people practice mix farming. We are worried & as they continued to be disturbed while going about their cultivation or harvesting of their crops and later being burned down in their houses, we feel they are crippled as they would not be able to provide & feed their families. We are very well aware that relief food or NGOS scarcely or never even reach them. It is painful for anyone to deny ones’ property or food/labour to end up in a way of burning and to leave behind enduring afflictions on them.

CC. H.E President Salva Kiir, Republic of South Sudan, Juba
CC: Governor Louise Lobong Lojore, Eastern Equatoria State, Torit
CC: Budi Commissioner, Chukudum
CC: UNMISS, Juba & Torit
CC: Budi National &Easter Equatoria State MPs
CC: Budi Chiefs

Budi Community in Diaspora
A.A. Martin, Chair
Contact us at:
budicommunity.diaspora@gmail.com
July 30, 2013

The Martyrs day in Sudan Sudan, 8 years after Garang’s death

BY: Bol Garang Bol, AUSTRALIA, JUL/30/2013, SSN;

Today’s evening, the 30th July is dedicated to our martyrs, veterans and soldiers who remain steadfastly and resolutely committed in the defence of our sacred motherland, the recent INDEPENDENT SOUTH SUDAN. Regardless of the cost, our spirits are high and our determination unwavering. The infamous designs of our enemy, may it be internal or external, will never succeed and we shall eventually prevail.

I can say this with complete confidence because I know that the blessings of Almighty GOD and prayers of the entire Nation are with us. This realization is indeed the source of our real strength, which affords us a distinct superiority and dominance over the enemy.

We are deeply indebted to the families of our martyrs including our late leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior Atem who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of our freedom. We cannot repay their debt; however, we profoundly acknowledge their courage and pray to the Almighty to honour their great sacrifice and to bless our motherland.

Our country, South Sudan is a great blessing for all of us. It is because of our beloved martyrs who have defended our motherland that we live in freedom as an independent Nation. We have made enormous sacrifices for this freedom since 1947 and we are prepared to continue doing so, to preserve it.

However, despite tremendous sacrifices and the messes of the SPLM Party, the dream of our founding fathers under the leadership of Dr John Garang de Mabior who perished in the Helicopter crash on this DAY is yet to be realized despite the current situation in South Sudan.

Perhaps, we have either not discovered the correct path or have not remained steadfast in our journey. Yet the spirit of sacrifice and resilience of our Nation remains undiminished. I have no doubts, whatsoever, that we retain the ability to touch the heights of glory.

Hence, it is imperative that we do not let despair or disillusionment afflict our determination.

We must not cherish any suspicions or misgivings about this DAY. This indeed is a golden opportunity stated by Dr. John Garang, which can guide in an era of true democratic values in the country.

In my opinion, it is not merely retribution, but awareness and participation of the masses that can truly end this game of hide and seek between democracy and dictatorship.

If we succeed in rising above all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence, there would be no reason to fear dictatorship or to grudge the inadequacies of our present democratic system in South Sudan.

Our salvation resides in transforming the government into a true platform of public representation. This would come to pass once the construct of public representation in South Sudan is oriented towards affording primacy and precedence to larger public interest over personal interests.

Otherwise, may it be democracy or dictatorship; governance would continue to remain a means of self-overstatement and that of predatory national wealth and resources.

I assure you, as YOUTH FOR SOUTH SUDAN, that we stand committed to wholeheartedly assist and support in the conduct of free, fair and peaceful transformation of SPLM PARTY; to the best of our capabilities and remaining within the confines of the Constitution.

I also assure you that this support shall solely be aimed at strengthening democracy and rule of law in the country.

Now, once the destination is in sight we must not err in accomplishing our responsibilities towards the election process. We must never forget that success of any system resides in coming up to the aspirations of the youth. The success of democracy is intimately linked with the well being and prosperity of the Nation. The real virtue of democracy ultimately lies in the safety and welfare of the young people.

We sincerely desire that all those who have strayed and have picked up arms against the Nation, return to the national fold. However, this is only possible once they unconditionally submit to the State, its Constitution and the Rule of Law. There is no room for doubts when it comes to dealing with rebellion against the state.

Towards this end, while truly acknowledging the national aspirations and value of our martyr’s blood, we as a Nation need to forge consensus towards evolving a clear policy through mutual consultations.

Considering this war of leadership and power struggle within the SPLM Party as the war of political gimmick forces alone can lead to chaos and disarray that we cannot afford. We must distance ourselves on tribal affiliation.

In line with the spirit of this Martyrs Day, alongside SPLA Army, I would like to express my profound appreciation to the Southerners who have sacrificed tremendously in the struggle against extremism and sectarian government, the Khartoum regime and have kept the flag of South Sudan fluttering high.

However, the biggest sacrifice has been rendered by the people of South Sudan, whose steadfastness and support is a source of immense strength for the Armed Forces of South Sudan.

I salute the spirit of patriotism of the entire Nation. Martyrdom is a great honour and fortunate are those who are blessed with it. We would never let their sacrifice go to waste.

Bol Garang Bol, Australia, Canberra Nicetobeme05@yahoo.com

Why all eyes are on South Sudan?

BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, JUL/29/2013, SSN;

It was long feared that an independent South Sudan would become ungovernable, that’s why all eyes were quick to converge on the country the moment it came face to face with its first ever post-independence political fall off amongst its ruling elites.

Aware of this, the politicians and the laity alike did well to handle this historical incidence with much maturity and sense of national responsibility while they intellectualize their ways through the multitude of man-made political hurdle.

We can give ourselves credit here, for the way we all behaved in the face of our first ever test as an independent country. There could still have been a better way of tackling the political question that emanated from the ruling SPLM’s internal power struggle, they say. Well, Kiir saw otherwise.

Just to remind ourselves, it’s time we clearly understand that South Sudan is no longer the world’s darling child that it used to be two years ago. And it has long run out of favors it used to get particularly so in the eyes of the western countries.

At the same time the world is also keenly noting the new trend in which our leadership in Juba is no more focused on the national question of peace, security, prosperity and freedom for all. The promise that the leadership gave on the eve of the country’s independence way back on the 9th, January 2011, are more or less becoming things of the past.

So what exactly went wrong? Unfortunately many things have changed over the last two years, and believe you me, the love of power for the sake of it, have slowly taken over.

Whatever sleepless nights our politicians in Juba are currently experiencing, is no longer about services to the public. Nor are they about guaranteeing their subjects security. Their nights have been taken over by the uncertainties of the new political game of ‘power struggle’ between the comrades.

The struggle in the corridors of power in Juba is now solely about how to maintain a comfortable milking position within this system where leaders milk directly into their mouths. And while the country awaits a new government, the new trend of seeking self-interest before the national interest has in fact taken root so deep so that nobody ever sees anything else.

Many more elected governors will continue to be sacked by the president whenever he sees it fit. And we are told that he need not give anyone any reasons for his actions. This is democracy the Kiir’s way. Should anyone disagree, then they are likely to be labelled as unpatriotic instigators.

One other issue of concern is the tendency by the incumbent president to selectively apply articles of the constitution only to suit his personal interests. A good example is the firing of elected governors and not going the extra mile to organize by-elections as stipulated in the constitution. This one undoubtedly has become his favorite.

In the recent political somersault the president has not only proven himself as an individual with tremendously unlimited powers, but he too made it bluntly clear that he is indeed above the law. This leaves the majority of the SPLM politicians with only few options to observe. To others it simply means: “you better know who butters your bread”. This is the ‘politics of the belly.’

Things don’t stop there. Everyone one is now eyeing every other’s chair. And it undoubtedly goes to explain the current queue at the state house where power hungry politicians are willingly doing everything in exchange for a seat in the new cabinet.

What does it say to the outside observers, when power hungry politicians, mostly veteran SPLM former comrades are being played one against the other? Funny though no less than four of them were all promised the one single position of vice president at one point in the current power game. Why doesn’t the president show any respect for these gentlemen who are community elders in their own rights?

The much publicized meeting the president had with the representatives of the various South Sudanese political parties, is in the real sense of it, no more than a last minute move meant exclusively to mislead the international community into believing that president Kiir is doing all that he can to be both consultative and inclusive. This is the essence of the show.

On the one hand the bravado shown by Dr. Elia Lomuro of the SSDF, who took upon himself the task of speaking to the media on behalf of the 17 or so political parties, was to its best a set piece. He was doing more or less what Dr. Barnaba Benjamin did before him when the latter continued to volunteer as the president’s mouth peace even when out of the government.

Dr. Marial Benjamin, who was sure of making it back into the cabinet, was seen and heard explaining the constitutionality of the president’s move in sacking the entire cabinet, long after the government was dissolved.

Who can now doubt that his voluntary work has not only rewarded him with the lucrative portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, but he has also become the first minister to be appointed in this extraordinary cabinet.

With Dr. Marial Barnaba now back in government, only a thick headed individual will fail to figure out what the new era is set to look like. They have long said that, “The content of a letter is known from its address”. Didn’t they?

No one should have any problem with what Dr. Barnaba Benjamin can and cannot do in the new cabinet of South Sudan. And since we are being constantly reminded that president Kiir will officially remain to be the most power individual in the country until 9th January 2015, when the country will go for its first ever general elections, it will be better to leave everything for that day.

However during his remaining tenure in office, we the citizens of South Sudan expect him to abide by the letter and the spirit of each and every article in the country’s constitution.

Many of us have their reservations about this transitional constitution right about how it was conceived to how it was finally adopted into law.

But since it has become the country’s law we will not tolerate anyone abusing it, even if they were the one who wrote it word by word.

Do we need to remind ourselves that it is the Lakes State and The Jonglei State which need the president’s immediate attention even if he is finding difficult to quickly form his new government. The situation in the former may seem to be flattering down, after the initial escalation by the overdue military governor.

In Jonglei unfortunately the situation has further deteriorated to warrant an international involvement, now in the form of humanitarian assistances, but could at any time open the door for wider foreign interventions of the all-out type.

Talking about removing elected governors, maybe Jonglei is the right place for such a drill. However any intervention here must be well balanced and never prejudiced, for otherwise a further heavy handedly policy may drag the new country to join the list of the country’s that condone genocides.

The author would also like to remind fellow South Sudanese that while governments come and go, our destiny as one people is likely to remain together for a long time to come. It’s for this reason that those who join the new cabinet should remember that it’s not for the prestige of the job, but rather for the welfare of this fast sinking country.

As for brothers and sisters who are now on each another’s necks because of power, it’s my hope that they sober up to see that they have nearly been ten years in service. Be it the president himself or any of his colleagues who have served alongside him since 2005, it may be time they consider stepping down when they can still leave the throne peacefully and dignified.

Your graphs of performance are beginning to go down, and if anything, you are already running out of creativity and ideas. It could be time to quit.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. He can be reached at: justinramba@doctors.net.uk

Kiir readjusts himself for more blunders

BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, JUL/28/2013, SSN;

There is no point in wasting the readers’ time discussing the root causes of the current political hullabaloo in Juba, for the fact that all saw it coming, thanks to the IT plus the unique boldness enjoyed by people of South Sudan whenever they ascertain their political positions during tough times.

This time around President Salva Kiir chose to dismiss his entire cabinet, including his long serving vice president Dr., Riek Machar Teny. The consequences of having such a political vacuum in a struggling country like south Sudan could be anything from an all-out chaos to all kinds of uncertainties.

If anyone finds it too weird to dismiss an entire cabinet and opts to run a country as unstable as South Sudan, solo, and in the midst of a total political vacuum, then that person obviously is not General Salva Kiir Mayardit. Maybe it’s time that those who facilitated his ascension to this high office should start re-evaluating their judgements now.

The SPLM political bureau has so much experimented on the people of South Sudan, so much so that the country has attracted all kinds of criticism, even from its own rank and file.

But should any of the current unconventional ‘Mayarditisation’ of the country become a source for embarrassments, the SPLM’s apologists will only have themselves to blame.

Although Friends and enemies alike have wondered why things don’t seem to work well in a land supposed to be “a heaven on earth” in terms of resources, the people of South Sudan seem to know where it all went wrong.

The average citizen is well versed on the real problems facing the country. Unfortunately there isn’t even a single one in Kiir’s conscience when he bulldozed his entire cabinet down.

South Sudan has suffered so much over the years and its time that a spade is called a spade.

Corruption and tribalism are two main problems that have for sure contributed in crippling this new country. Maybe a reshuffle in the government can offer a way out, if it is likely to deal away with these two vices.

But is the current reshuffle in anyway aimed at taking away the corrupt and tribalistic politicians and replacing them with trustworthy and not tribalistic ones?

Those who know the incumbent president also know that no way under Salva Kiir’s leadership can any of the above be achieved. And by all standards the incumbent president is himself a corrupted tribalistic politician.

If you know who the country’s Chief Justice is or from where the Manager of the Central Bank of South Sudan hails, you will undoubtedly understand what type of a person our president is.

Salva Kiir’s latest mega scale ministerial purging exercise would have gone well had he [Kiir] ordered it in the wake of the $4b dollar theft. His amateurish dealings with the case in which he sent letters to 75 prominent members of his ruling party requesting them to return the stolen money, should have in fact been accompanied by this scale of reaction.

Only now has Kiir shown his true colours to the people of South Sudan and the world at large. What we saw and heard on the eve of the recent political shake up was indeed a Kiir that is never intimidated by anyone.

This goes to explain why he was too soft on the 75 officials. It also confirms that any time should he have the political will to bring the 75 to book, he can do it without the least obstacle.

But why use the same powers now and not before? Wait…..was there a conflict of interest? Or was he using the letters to blackmail the 75 into paying allegiance to him?

Back to the core issues of corruption, nepotism, cronyism and tribalism, it will be a total naivety to assume that the president has at any time worked to fight any of them.

Dismissal of Dr. Riek Machar and Cdr. Pa’gan Amum will without the least doubt help the SPLM as a party to go down faster than we first anticipated, however, until the whole monster comes crumbling down, it will continue to corrupt.

As for the wait for a new government, this may take a whole while, yet in the end Kiir will never come with a cabinet that can reflect anything different to what was dissolved.

It is bound to share resemblance to all his former cabinets, albeit to be dominated by yes men.

And a new cabinet may win the battle for Kiir, but the war is still far from been won. Corruption will remain, possibly multiply. As for tribalism and nepotism, both are likely to become the rule and not the exception.

Dismissing Riek, Pa’gan, Kosti, and Deng Alor or the whole government as he did will only become fruitful in an event of a new president to preside over a government of technocrats.

For none of these mega dismissals is in any going to stop the president’s relatives from breaking into the State House for some dollars to finance their newly acquired habits.

While President Kiir readjusts himself for more blunders, he has however succeeded for the time being to publicly humble his former colleagues, by his retaliatory presidential decrees.

Constitutional articles were quoted from all over the place to justify his moves and intentions. In the hurry even the very important ministry of Health was missed out in the initial declaration to be remembered only 24 hours later, but at the end he got his job done.

Now where is the vision or the mission?

Is it that Kiir was quick to have his rivals for breakfast, before they had him for dinner?

But that in short was purely a battle for survival. And that is what it was and not a political vision for South Sudan.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: justinramba@doctors.net.uk

A Tale of Juba and the Presidency!

BY: Deng Mangok Ayuel, AWEIL, JUL/26/2013, SSN;

This is a presidential saga and its cabinet’s analogy. When twining cohesively as political family and the sons of special mother, it’s ostensibly regarded as a weakness, turned rivalry by individuals who wanted to weigh their political thermometers before the dawn of 2015 elections. President Kiir is always calm and friendly, give him your hands to let the peace reign.

When Joshua is truly busy fulfilling the promise, another challenge arises from within, incredibly, but time shall make him work perfectly. For those who started a fight within one canoe, it is invincible for them as opposite part of the crew.

The canoe is stable but never always expect a canoe in the river to be stable … and when in the same canoe, don’t laugh at those who don’t swim well because the river might also be full of creatures that can swallow even those who can swim better, believe me.

And when driving a vehicle whose rhizome is worn out in front, it is better to stop driving before it goes dark. One can’t use ordinary eyes to drive a vehicle at night, it’s a violation of traffic law and you may sometimes cause an accident.

It shouldn’t also happen by pious exhortation. The only solution is to park your vehicle on the right side of the road and lope to look for cash in order to buy its missing parts, and your missing political eyes, missing legs.

But if you are unable to get money to buy spare parts, then how did you get the vehicle? Do you possess insurance certificate, driving license and updated logbook?

The former cabinet members who made their ways to the cabinet but didn’t meet expectations, failed to deliver services shouldn’t be considered a run into the new cabinet if president is striving for change – I wish them a good stay at home with the community – khafara alekum for now!

Therefore, President Kiir is always peaceful in his doings. Hopefully the presidential advisers might also be agents of change and peace in the country, lest they shall take the geometry of peace to the wrong angle.

These advisers are like the compass needle at the magnetic pole. They travel in spaces, like a bunch of light at night until all the thoughts, evil gestures, pains, joy are dissolved into one solution in many, which is sometimes peaceful joyful, inevitable, absurd and hopeful.

Politics is an endless business. Two years had gone. Since our political wheels and the engine are newly shining and strong, it is good to ‘obamatize’ our political engine from SPLM Oyee to “Yes We Can” in order to reduce the noise and the tone, rhythm of reggae music with Dr. Riek Machar.

As a concerned citizen – one among thousands of people who live below poverty line and spend less than a dollar a day- it is my courage to urge all the people, all South Sudanese – political farmers, ordinary citizens, organized forces and leaders to take full initiative of development, avoid tribal equations of politics that lead to hatred, always carve up co-existence as one people.

Now that the new season of politics and cabinet with the new Vice President is expected overnight, it is my hope that the situation should remain calm.

Of course, my political magic is not ready to name the mass of the popular heavy weight politicians who usually bait for success to remain as the cabinet members for all the seasons. They know themselves.

I pray that Mr. President shouldn’t appoint anyone who has been suspected of corrupt cases in his to–do–list of the day. We have been the champions of our nation – all of us.

We voted for separation together during the referendum that made our history – and now wishing politicians a peaceful politicking!

Is it a nightmare politics of our time? When did Mr. Pagan Amum, who has suffered negotiating with Khartoum for South Sudan, began removing the bricks of the luak he participated in its building? Is it true?

Oh God, let the politics not be a dirty game by this time. I need peaceful SPLM and prosperous South Sudan. I hope he wouldn’t be sacked from the party.

Who didn’t want to be on the right side of history? The storm has blown over, while another season of politics has begun. It is just the beginning. Light is seen and the government is fashioning itself – it is a matter of time.

South Sudan is a beloved country with great people. When twist of hope arises, smile yearns in our faces and makes us laugh before anything goes well.

For decades – a generational age, South Sudanese fought with Khartoum against marginalization and economic fatality. It was the core of ailing for humanity when others are regarded as second class citizens in their own country.

It was a tumor which ate into the entails for change which some of us are currently enjoying its fruits. Did we say goodbye to Khartoum and began troubling ourselves within two years of independence?

It has been the best of time, extremely full of impediments. However, Juba is no longer Juba but piece of hope for change.

The nation is economically at limbo but politics took its course. Poverty is just unbearably glowing into portrayal of one man’s solitary agony while some of the leaders’ eyes seemingly on political food for egoism instead of helping Mr. President for the welfare of our society.

Austerity measures as they called it, is quivering. It’s married our pockets, left us running up and down especially those who wanted to tower our new city and towns. It increases poverty.

Nobody has a choice when oil is minutely to be shut down – how long should austerity measures continue if the solution for marketing the crude oil is not worked out?

For God’s sake, cooperation agreement – somehow, I don’t know how many agreements – raggedly dishonored by Khartoum. No doubt that Khartoum looks too old and tired of agreement since 1970s.

Getting things going especially in the era of political error with Khartoum is not a simple task but pairs of complication and fabrication of truth. Khartoum is known for its U-turns, chameleonic colours when coming to economical and political related issues.

When did our oil become economically bitter to Khartoum? God helps those who help themselves! Since Khartoum has been accusing Juba of helping Sudanese rebels, it is alarming in my mind that Khartoum is too helpless to Juba any more or the two cities became helpless to each others— the tales of two cities, Juba and Khartoum versus oil without pipeline.

While Khartoum has been extremely jealous over the flow of our oil through its pipeline, should Juba say enough is enough and find its own ways of pumping, selling the oil?

How long does it take to construct a pipeline to Kenya? I wish the presidency may make a quick better solution for our oil as he did for the cabinet?

Deng Mangok Ayuel lives in Aweil, South Sudan. He can be reached via mangokson@gmail.com

South Sudan: A deeply polarized country!

BY: Deng Riek KHORYOAM, South Sudan, JUL/28/2013, SSN;

The world youngest country on earth is currently going through a lot of turbulent times that will prove whether or not the country is going forward or slipping backward. The recent political developments in the country are something to worry about, particularly for the concerned citizens like this little author. If the latest political developments are anything to go by, it’s that they are threatening the very ideals at the centre of our founding: “Justice, Liberty and Prosperity” and the gains made during the last two years of independence.

Suffice it to say that they have the potential to tear our country apart and cause us tremendous human suffering if care is taken diligently by the highest echelon of power!

I contend that South Sudan is one of the most polarized countries in the African continent. I am being very careful here on the choice of words on this, for to assert that ‘South Sudan’ is the most polarized country in Africa would be an overstatement, and to say the opposite would still be considered an understatement.

But the truth of the matter is, our country is deeply polarized and divided along ethnic lines. Everybody owes his/her allegiance to his or her tribe and community, not to the country. Anybody who denies this as untrue is either living in Mars or something is absolutely wrong with his/her medulla oblongata!

But I must also confess that this polarization is not only confined to South Sudan alone. Other African countries are not any exception, although a few have grown to maturity past this, and have thus passed the ethnicity-diversity test.

In most African countries, the incumbent president, despite being the president of the whole country, is identified with his/her tribe and largely guided by the tribesmen/women in whatever decision he makes or intends to take. He has to give in to the demands of his tribe or else risks rejection and isolation, including working with the opposite side to topple his government, in the extreme case scenario.

In my beloved country South Sudan, it’s ugly and a different thing, partly owing to several factors. We’ve just emerged from more than two decades of civil war, which somewhat destroyed our social and cultural fabric and cost us a tremendous loss of innocent’s lives.

As a result, we still harbour a culture of violence and hostility towards one another as South Sudanese.

It’s also the main reason why there are still pockets of inter-communal conflicts here and there – which are largely due to these long years of fighting in the bush.

The youth who are supposed to be the change agents and tomorrow’s leaders are indulging in activities (violence, stealing, preaching tribalism… etc.) which are wanting in nature and which could spell doom on their future, if they didn’t change.

The current leaders are going and the younger generation will come in and replace them. But are we going to exemplify their bad deeds and evil actions??

Why should we always see everything through tribal lens instead of national glasses? Where will tribalism take us and this country? Isn’t it better that we become South Sudanese instead of aligning ourselves with tribes?

What is wrong with us being South Sudanese as opposed to just a collection of tribes? I think there is a dire need for us to change our mind-sets and embrace one another as South Sudanese.

We also need to take off our tribal lenses and put on national ones for us to achieve national reconciliation and unity of purpose. And that brings me to the issue of national reconciliation process currently under way in the country.

I think the recent political developments are antithetical to achieving real and authentic national reconciliation dialogue. It goes against the spirit of this important process, which is supposed to reconcile our past misdeeds with the present, with the aim of charting the best way forward as we try to forget and forgive our past with all its mishaps!

The president, by openly violating the constitution, has given rise to suspicions that he is not serious in his promises to follow the constitution to the letter and spirit.

The removal of elected public officials is an absolute contempt of the constitution and the rubber stamp, good-for-nothing so-called ‘parliament’. It’s also the beginning an era unprecedented in South Sudan’s history.

We are poised to see worse things than what we have already seen. The removal of Chol Tong Mayai, Taban Deng Gai and the suspension of the SPLM SG, Pagan Amum, are a case in point. Needless to say that these contribute to further polarization in an obscure manner!!

You don’t remove someone immediately you hear or suspect that he disagrees with you on national issues – it’s tantamount to dictatorship and totalitarianism – to say the least.

In conclusion, I think there is an urgent need for all South Sudanese people to do some sort of soul-searching and to go back to the drawing board. The drawing board would be where we came from, how far we’d travelled and how far we still need to go in order to realize our life-long aspirations.

Otherwise, the gains we’ve made in the last years of our independence will go to the dustbin of history and only God knows our fate as a people.

If war is the only thing we resort to when confronted with challenges that could be handled diplomatically and politically, then I don’t really know what future awaits South Sudan as a country.

We have been to war and we know its bitterness and how much suffering it causes to the innocent children and women who have got absolutely nothing to do with it. After all, empirical study has revealed that “ethnically polarized countries have to endure longer period of civil wars than those ethnically less polarized”.

Have you agreed to be a South Sudanese or tribalist? Have you agreed to owe your allegiance to the republic of South Sudan?

The author is a concerned South Sudanese citizen living in South Sudan. He could be reached for comments at: driakfangak@hotmail.com

Whimsical Decision Making and a Dysfunctional Political Party

BY: Kuir ë Garang, CANADA, JUL/28/2013, SSN;

I was never a fan of late Dr. John Garang but, on principle, I admired one quality in him: extensive reading and autodidactic attitude. Comfortingly enough, he read and referenced issues and facts he postulated and argued for or about. This is a quality, among other things, officials in Juba should adopt. SPLM and the GOSS should also know that any institution is governed by behavioural and information dissemination protocols. People should not talk anyhow…or because they ‘feel’ it’s right. It might feel right but facts might go contrary to that feel-good-ness.

Face value application (or violation) of the constitution and out of context utterance of statements such as ‘it’s a normal democratic process’ don’t do justice to the already jittery nation.

We still have an unconstitutional governor in Lake State and the president knows that’s a clear violation of the constitution’s sixty day (60) requirement. Taban Deng Gai was removed unconstitutionally because we know there is no crisis in Unity State.

What the president and South Sudanese need to realize is that section (101r) doesn’t only say there just has to be a crisis in the state. The crisis has to be one threatening ‘national security and territorial Integrity’.

If the crisis is not threatening national security then citing such a crisis becomes unconstitutional. Jonglei State is the state whose crisis is threatening national security and territorial integrity but the governor is still there.

The president’s actions are just whimsical rather than constitutional!
The onus in on the president to therefore explain how the ‘crisis’, if any, in the Lake State or Unity State, threaten our ‘national security and territorial integrity’. In essence, the president is ruling a nation of people not nation of cows. People need to know.

Abdon Agau, the government secretary general told the media that president Kiir can fire the cabinet without giving any reasons; arguing that it’s his ‘constitution right’ not to give explanations!

What? It’s supposed to be a ‘national constitution’ not ‘whimsical presidential constitution.’

Mr. President should know that he’s a servant of South Sudanese not their boss. He’s only the boss of his cabinet, not South Sudanese. Ideally, the president has to justify his actions to the South Sudanese people because his decisions directly affect the average citizen.

Make no mistake, president Kiir should account to US as South Sudan. We employed him not the other way round.

Officials like the always-in-your-face Marial Benjamin (while I know he has improved lately) have the knack of talking without checking their facts. This is indeed scary for South Sudan’s future.

Besides, both the SPLM and the government of South Sudan don’t adhere to functionality protocols. This is the source of the problem within SPLM.

There’s nothing ‘democratic’ about firing a cabinet. Just because something is constitutional doesn’t mean it’s democratic. Actions of individuals can’t be called democratic even if they are clearly constitutional. Constitutional actions are necessary undemocratic decisions within a democracy. Not all decisions within a democracy are democratic. This is the culture of talking anyhow.

Both Pagan Amum and Riek Machar should know that belonging to an organization requires adhering to organizational protocols and internal avenues of problem solving. Disagreements within a political party are normal, however, these disagreements should be solved behind closed doors.

If you can’t solve internal issues behind closed doors then maybe belonging to one political party isn’t such a good idea.

Publicly criticizing your own political party and the president as a senior party official is wrong…it doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.

And how naïve would someone criticize the boss, tells the boss ‘I want your job’ and expects the boss to say ‘go ahead, take my job…you are a great man!’ I don’t know which world Riek Machar is living in.

What he’s saying regarding the country is admittedly the general truth, that the country is off the cliff and something has to change to salvage it, however, this doesn’t mean entering into the culture of ‘care-free-ness.’

An able leader would seek helpful ways of solving problems. You don’t get to criticize your boss, an uncritical boss for that matter, and get to keep your job. What were you smoking, Mr. Machar? Ambition intoxication?

In the end, the president needs to justify his actions, follow the constitution and let his officials know that talking to the media should be bound by party or government protocols, and that facts have to be researched and appropriately referenced for the government to have some respect in the eyes of South Sudan.

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese poet and author living in Canada. He’s the author of upcoming analytical book, South Sudan Ideologically: Tribal Socio-Democracy, SPLM Ideologues, Juba Corruptocrats, Khartoum Theocrats and their Time-Frozen Leadership. To contact the author visit www.kuirthiy.info or www.kuirthiy.com

Ad hoc technocracy in South Sudan after Kiir’s latest decrees

BY: Martin Garang Aher, AUSTRALIA, JUL/25/2013, SSN;

Finally the push has come to a shove in Juba. In a move that dazed many South Sudanese as well as international observers of political developments in South Sudan, President Salva Kiir Mayardit had on 23rd July 2013 bravely dissolved his government. It was highly anticipated but vulgarly engendered by poor government performance and the struggle for power within the ruling party, the SPLM.

The multiple presidential decrees relieved the vice president, 29 ministers, 29 deputy ministers and 17 brigadier generals in the police force. Another promised an overhaul of the government ministries while the SPLM Party Order, suspended the secretary general of the SPLM. The SG, in another capacity, functioned as the chief negotiator in the post independence arrangements with the Sudan.

As could be construed in these shake ups, all efforts seemed to have been designed to prioritize efficiency of the government. However, punishing dissent and rewarding supporters often goes along with situations of this nature. It will be clear in the formation of the next government if all intentions were for the good of the nation or actions that are in circumspect disciplinary among the SPLM’s heavy weights.

The dissolution has already been believed by many as targeting the removal of the vice president, Riek Machar Teny, who had on numerous occasions criticized the government while voicing his wish to lead the party into the next elections.

The president’s application of his constitutional prerogative was the second since he took power as the new country’s first bearer of the highest office after independence. He had reshuffled the same government in 2010, but with least panic from the streets. Many more were expected but did not materialize.

As some residents in Juba confirmed, the situation had since changed. The city remained tensed; making the likelihood for a bang of any kind to disrupt the day. On the other hand, citizens who have been calling out for the government to do more are now shy of praise even though their wishes are being slowly fulfilled.

The need for effective service delivery had been overshadowed by fear of violent reprisal from demoted government officials who might be left out of the incoming government; especially from the outgoing vice president and his supporters.

However, I am of the belief that Riek Machar had done his calculations correctly and the presumptions many might have for him have something to do with his past, not his present.

Cognizant of the oil shutdown and the war with the Sudan in Panthou, South Sudanese see this second reshuffle as exceedingly bizarre but on equal terms with previous actions in which proper plans were reserved to be attempted after ward.

The plan is now for the president to sit down with his advisers and do the mammoth task of selecting the cabinet while the government in Juba remains literally in the hands of technocrats in the respective ministries.

It was simple to set the pace of restructuring, but the enormity of the task at hand might likely require weeks to complete. That would leave a vacuum for possible unruliness. The president must act fast and in the approved manner in his government formation.

Can the president be encouraged to be a little harder? If president Kiir is to be believed and trusted, he has to do a bit more.

Whether internal party wrangling for leadership might have caused the dissolution, South Sudanese and the world are wishing to see that the 75 officials whom he sent letters to return the stolen $4 billion must not show faces in his next government.

Of course if the wells of the decrees have not run dry, expectations are that few remaining decrees must be channelled toward the formation of investigation committees to probe the whereabouts of $4 billion for the benefit of the impoverished citizens.

Martin Garang is a South Sudanese living in Australia. He can be reached at garangaher@hotmail.com

The Rise and Fall of John Garang: Eighth Anniversary of his death

BY: Juac Deng, WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA, JUL/25/2013, SSN;

It is an old story with guerilla warfare – a strong man invariably emerges to rein in the contending factions that make up an armed resistance movement. John Garang de Mabior was such a man and he knew the task at hand could turn messy. For 22 years, he led one of the longest guerilla wars in Sudan against the Arab Muslim dominated government, and managed the transition from guerilla leader to political leader with much international acclaim.

But his life and career ended on July 30, 2005. He was the vice president of Sudan and former leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM], a political wing of the Sudan People’s liberation Army (SPLA).

The 60-year-old leader, six of his comrades and seven Ugandan friends died in a Ugandan presidential helicopter which crashed into a mountain range in South Sudan. The helicopter went down on the Ugandan-South Sudanese border, an area overrun with fighters of the Lord Resistance’s Army (LRA), a notorious Ugandan rebel group that had long been a sworn enemy of Garang and President Museveni.

The Ugandan leader was devastated by the loss and immediately declared a public holiday in Kampala, honoring Garang and Ugandans who died with him.

According to a Ugandan media report, Museveni publicly stated that: ”The accident may not be what it seems. Some people say accident. It may be an accident. It may be something else, but I assure you that if the investigation finds that it was a result of foul play, the perpetrator will pay,” he told Garang’s mourners.

Although Museveni had been a long-time friend and ally of Garang, Ugandan parliamentarian, Mr. Aggrey Awori, suggested a negligence on his part and other Ugandan officials that contributed to Garang’s tragic demise. Awori told a local media outlet that Ugandan authorities had never followed proper procedure with regarding to the doomed flight.

“They took off after hours, definitely. According to CAA regulations, no a helicopter can take off after 5 pm. for any destination lasting more than one hour, and Museveni should have advised Garang to stay in Kampala, or to cut short their meeting so Garang could arrive home before nightfall,” he averred.

Enraged by what he termed vicious rumors, Museveni shut down a popular radio station after it aired a program discussing theories about crash, including some that blamed the Ugandan government. Most Ugandan media had speculated that the LRA might have shot down the helicopter.

Operating from bases in South Sudan, with past support from the Khartoum regime, the LRA has for some years been fighting to overthrow the Ugandan government. It is notorious for vicious tactics including abduction of thousands of children forced to become soldiers or concubines for rebels.

In Sudan things were different. The former leader’s death, three weeks after he took office as part of a peace deal to end the civil war, sparked the worst riots in the country’s recent history. Grief stricken supporters of Garang tore through the capital Khartoum in riots, smashing cars and shops belonging to Arab Muslims, and angrily blaming the Islamist government of President Omar Bashir for the death of their hero.

They clashed with heavily armed Sudanese police; the death toll was 100, with scores injured, and Bashir had to assure them that Garang’s death did not mean an end to the peace agreement. “We are confident the peace agreement will proceed as planned,” he said.

A joint Ugandan-Sudanese report into the incident released in 2006 blamed pilot error and poor weather; however, some members of Sudanese Diaspora community still don’t accept investigators’ immediate conclusion. They believe Garang’s death was political and the experts in plane crashes should be brought in from the United States or Canada to open a new investigation.

In 2006, neither the SPLM nor the GOSS had a resolution endorsing the investigators’ report. In 2008, Riak Machar, the South Sudan’s Vice President, told the Reuters that many top officials in the party believed their former leader had been murdered.

“When we look at such a situation it may be best for us to reopen the investigation so that once and for all we put it to rest,” Machar said in an interview with Reuters. “We do not want anything connected to Dr. John Garang to divide our party.”

The party’s Secretary General Pagan Amum, Sudan’s former Foreign Minister Deng Alor, and Aleu Ayeny Aleu– a top SPLM member who was part of the investigation team but disagreed with its findings– had expressed doubts about the crash.

Garang’s widow, Rebecca Nyandeng, had also expressed doubts about the crash. “When my husband died, I didn’t come out openly and said he was killed because I knew the consequences, Mrs Garang claimed.
“At the back of my mind, I knew my husband had been assassinated.”

Mrs. Garang publicly spoke those chilling words at an award ceremony by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Nairobi, Kenya, where Garang was being honored with a posthumous Uhuru Award for his contribution to the liberation of Africa.

She spoke not just about her husband’s death but also about a number of sensitive matters across Africa. One of them is how Africans treat partners of their heroes. Often they are not seen as persons in their own right. They may have been married to heroes but some of them have a place in the struggle in their own right.

Mrs Garang spoke from her heart but not as a grieving widow rather as a combatant. She revealed embarrassing fact that the award by the JOOF was the first time Garang was being honored by an African organization. What does this tell outsiders about the way in which Africans treat their heroes and heroins?

Garang was the recipient of several awards from all kinds of people in Europe and North America, she said, but his first award from Africa is posthumous and even then an Independent Foundation.

In 1983, the Khartoum regime sent Colonel Garang, a Dinka officer, to quell a mutiny of 500 southern troops who were resisting orders to be shipped to north. Instead of doing so, he encouraged them and other southern units to rebel, forming the nucleus of his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

This mutiny marked the beginning of Sudan’s protracted armed conflict which resulted in one and half million deaths. The 1983 mutiny of 500 southern troops was not the first in the history of southern rebellion.

In June 1955, orders came from Khartoum that a unit of Southern Command would have to leave for Khartoum at the end of year to take part in the big army parade to mark the departure of the British forces from Sudan and to mark the independence of the country on January 1, 1956.

However, before independence, southern soldiers mutinied at their headquarters in Torit, Eastern Equatoria. A rebellion that was to develop into first civil war in Sudan and would last for seventeen years had begun. It quickly spread from Torit to most parts of Equatoria, with a wholesale massacre of northern Sudanese service men and civilians.

Reverend Anderson, a Canadian missionary, remembered meeting Garang the first time at the Presbyterian mission printing press in South Sudan in 1965. A tall, lanky young, he was pedalling a stationary bicycle that powered a small press. His gangly height and piercing eyes set in a jet black face instantly revealed he was a Dinka, Sudan’s largest ethnic group. His Presbyterian mentors, Reverend and Mrs. Lowery Anderson, had led him to Christ and taught him the operation of the press which turned out Gospel pamphlets and Bible studies.

Schooled by missionaries in East Africa, Garang was sent as a promising young officer in the Sudanese army to the United States for military training at Fort Benning, Georgia, before completing his education with a PhD. D. in agricultural economics at Iowa State University. For his doctoral thesis, Garang chose the Jonglei Canal, criticizing the lack of development planning in the project.

Another Canadian, Peter Pigott in his little delightful book Canada in Sudan, says this: “With beard and heavy physique and the dark skin of his ethnic group, Garang was one of the most complicated rebels in African history, and despite his being at the center of the Sudanese conflict for 22 years, little was known about him. Marxist to Ethiopians, Christian fundamentalist to Americans what is known about Garang is that he was an expert in survival– someone who knew how to bend with the wind and be all things to all men.”

University of Khartoum law professor, Ahmed Musa, describes Garang as a man of the great intellect, a determined revolutionary fighter who had applied those qualities to help achieve a peace in the country.

“He was a moral beacon for many marginalized people in Sudan,” Musa said in a telephone interview in Khartoum.

From the very beginning of the southern rebellion in 1983, Garang had always fought for the concept of a new, united Sudan in which a secular state would give all regions and ethnic groups equal social status, a share of the national wealth and political access. This was in strong opposition to the feelings of his rank and file troops who were much more interested in secession.

But he argued that the secessionist objective had been one of the key reasons why the 1960 Any-Nya war had failed to achieve a major geopolitical redistribution of cards in the global Sudanese national environment. Then both Muslim non-Arab population of the north and some southerners viewed Garang’s argument as the only right course of action in getting rid the Sudan of Arab domination.

Nevertheless, it was difficult for him to keep implementing this unitary policy in the face of continuous feeling in favor of secession.

When Garang lost his major source of outside support with the collapse of the Mengistu regime, this difficulty in controlling his movement combined with ethnic tensions and disenchantment with his extremely autocratic style of leadership, gave birth to a neo-secessionist group which rose against his authority.

In 1991 the guerrilla movement split. Several senior members denounced Garang as a dictator and tried to overthrow him. The leader of the anti-Garang faction was a young Nuer chief, Riak Machar, married to an English woman. Machar claimed he stood for democracy and human rights. But his rebellion also had ethnic flavor, since most of the commanders of the SPLA were Dinka and most of the rebels were Nuer or Shilluk or from minority groups.

After several months the rebellion failed, and he and other leaders went over to the government side. They accepted jobs, acquired wealth and built families’ homes in Khartoum, and the government gave their fighters guns to continue their tribal war against Garang.

This was within a civil war created havoc in South Sudan. Guerilla commanders became warlords, living off ordinary citizens by rape and pillage. In ferocity and barbarity, this tribal war exceeded anything that the Khartoum government and the SPLA had done to each other. Panyagor’s airstrip in Upper Nile region was the battleground of the conflict. Whoever could control the airstrip could fly weapons into the front line.

Despite this great tribal war, Garang insisted on his unitary credentials, first to reassure African Muslims in the north, second, to try to appease the Arab League, third, to consolidate his standing with the UN, the OAU and other international elements, and, fourth to please Washington.

What better way than to intervene in Darfur in order to show that his” New Sudan” concept included the liberation of all the marginalized areas of the Sudan and not only the south. In September 1991 Garang publicly announced that the SPLA had occupied Southern Darfur but the Khartoum regime bluntly denied that there was anything like an attack in Southern Darfur.

Kola Boof, a controversial Sudanese American novelist, has also been a long-time champion for the cause of the marginalized people in Sudan. Boof first met Garang in 1978. At age of five, her Egyptian father, the late archaeologist Harith Bin Farouk, took her to Garang’s home where the two men discussed the formation of what would much later become the SPLA.

She was banished from the Sudan because of what was considered her seditious attitude. She lives in exile. Boof had no relationship with Garang as a child other than playing on his floor and repeatedly asking for cups of water or peaking in and out of the rooms. She remembers that Garang was a very humorous, lovable figure, with a keen seriousness. Her father would bring him information as Garang was contemplating leaving the Arab dominated government in Khartoum and starting up a rebellion which he did years later.

“I remember him being appalled when my father reported to him that there were actually Arab people conducting slave raids and selling Dinka and Nuer children like cattle,” Boof said. “His death is a loss because he wanted to bring north and south together in one Sudan.”

She describes Garang as a brilliant politician, a provocative thinker and great speaker, who was able to capture and inspire the minds of the Sudanese. “I do not believe that the peace agreement would have been possible without Garang’s commitment to peace and justice…he was sent to us by God,” she added.

Every African country has its own colonial legacy, residues of alien rule. Traveling around the entire continent, it is shocking to find how things are still done in the old colonial way. Sudan is no exception.

The modern Sudan is ruled as an empire as it was 100 years ago when the British ruled and Ottomans before that. The government in Khartoum, whoever it is, governs by neglect, repression and realpolitik.

The word Sudan means the land of black people, but it has always been ruled by the riverine Arab elites. In 2000, a publication written by Sudan’s African Muslim leaders appeared, known as The Black Book. It listed the origins of everyone in Sudan power structure from minsters to drivers. They were overwhelmingly from three Arab tribes from one area just north of Khartoum representing 6 per cent of the population.

Several languages are spoken in Sudan but among its ruling elite you will find only one– Arabic. Ask most members of the Khartoum regime if they are African and you will get an ambiguous reply. Ask them if they are Arab and they will say of course. They are in Africa but not of Africa.

Looking north and the Arab world, not south, east and west, they see themselves and- Sudan- Arab and Islamic. If they look to south, east and west, it is the spirit of Islamizing and Arabizing of black Africans who live in those parts of the country. Black Africans, not only the southerners, have always felt neglected by the riverine Arab rulers.

That was why Garang insisted on his vision of a new, united, secular and democratic Sudan, based on equality, freedom, economic and social justice and respect for human rights for all Sudanese:

“I believe that the basic problem of the Sudan is that since independence in 1956, various regimes that have come and gone in Khartoum…have failed to provide a commonality for the Sudan as a state; that is, there has been no conscious evolution of that common Sudanese identity and destiny to which we all pay undivided allegiance, irrespective of our backgrounds, irrespective of our tribes, irrespective of race, irrespective of religious belief.

And the way to solve this problem is to address the question of how power is organized. The method which we have chosen in order to achieve the united Sudan is to struggle to restructure power in the center so that the question as to what do black Africans want does not arise.”

Garang died prematurely, only a few weeks after he assumed the position of first vice president in Sudan. The very day of his arrival suggested that even if guerilla struggle had ended, its impact on the Sudanese politics was just beginning. The millions of the Sudanese citizens who gathered to welcome him cut across all conventional political divisions– north-south, Muslim-Christian, Arab-non-Arab.

It had the hint of something new. It may be that what Garang said had a much great effect than what he did. The effect of what the man said could be read in the actions of those who took his words seriously. This much is clear from the development of new armed resistance movements in the north, particularly in Nuba Mountains, southern Blue Nile and Darfur inspired by Garang’s vision of new, united Sudan.

But would the non-Arab rebels achieve power structure in Khartoum in the face of growing Arab nationalism?. In Sudan, Arab nationalism turns out to be a fig leaf for the domination of the riverine Arab elite. Arab nationalism reached its high in northern Sudan in the 1950s, in the aftermath of the Free Officer-led overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy, and the subsequent upsurge of Arab nationalism.

The Arab political identity in riverine Sudan developed in three phases: if the Funj royalty claimed an Arab descent in the sixteenth century and the middle class of merchants and holy men embraced an Arab identity in the late eighteenth century, it is only in the course of anti-colonial agitation in the post-Second World War period that Arab identity can be said to have become the hallmark of a popular political consciousness.

The central problems in the current northern Sudanese conflict are: (1) the domination of the riverine Arab elite; (2) the sectarian and religious bigotry that dominated the country’s political scene since independence; and(3) the unequal development in that country. Unless the nationality question is solved correctly, the religious bigotry is destroyed and a balanced development for all the regions of the Sudan is struck, the armed conflict may drag on for years in the country.

Conspiracy of Silence
The death of John Garang in a mysterious helicopter crash while in his way to South Sudan is a tragedy that still shakes the entire Sudanese nation. A report into the incident released in 2006 blamed pilot error, but the exiled Sudanese believe Garang had been murdered. They have raised questions about the failure by investigators to provide them with convincing answers.

The fact that the more than sixteen page report on Garang’s death, buried in the National Achives and unavailable to average Sudanese men and women, has spurred the public belief in a conspiracy. The report did not reflect the public concern with how and why a young and popular leader died in the prime of his life and the height of his career.

Garang’s tragic death will continue to attract much public attention and controversy because it is unique in the Sudanese political experience. There are two reasons for this uniqueness: the sudden and unexpected nature of the death and the special nature of the man killed. Other past events, particularly the assassination of William Deng Nhial in 1968 by members of the Sudanese army, lacks this telling combination.

Deng was murdered by the army commanded by his political friend, Sadiq El Mahdi. Mahdi, who was then Sudan’s Prime Minister, had never instructed the army to protect Deng and his party men while on an election campaign in the south during the first civil war. He was one of the southern nationalists who led the armed struggle in the early 1960s.

Deng returned to Sudan in 1965 to seek a peaceful internal settlement with the Sudan government when he formed a friendship with Mahdi. He was in his seventies and his death was due to miscalculations.

Late Garang in contrast, was in earlier fifties, and in the public eyes, he seemed youthful, vigorous and full of energy. For such a charismatic leader to have been cut down so suddenly and so shocking and under a cloud of suspicion at time when his public contribution to democratic transformation still lay ahead is what remains today unbearable.

People refused to accept the investigators’ conclusion that it was accident. Not because they missed Garang very much and found it impossible to let go which they did. But because the explanation was too obvious.

Garang’s widow, Rebecca Nyandeng, told a crowd at an award ceremony honoring her husband in Nairobi that she believed he had been murdered, yet she was harshly criticized by both Khartoum and Juba for offering no evidence for her accusation.

Mrs Garang has thrown open widely what Sudanese people had been suspecting. So who could have done it?
The first suspect remains the extremist wing of the Khartoum regime and hegemonists in the security forces. Their heart must have shook and their desperation further heightened by the tumultuous welcome from all Sudanese commitment to creating a new Sudan when he arrived in Khartoum to be sown in July 9, 2005. They must have seen their world collapsing before their eyes.

Garang was a formidable person who had distinguished himself both militarily and politically; therefore, both the Islamists and the Arabists shook at what would happen to their rule were Garang to have the opportunity to reshape the country.

For Sudanese democrats, he was a bridge of hope with the potential of turning the country into a genuinely democratic environment where black Sudanese might, “in the Martin Luther King hope, be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The enemy of hope had to act quickly before the achievement of the democratic transformation in a country that has been at war with itself for most of its post independence existence.

On the other hand, Islamists and Arabists are not the only suspects in Garang’s death. There are other suspects within the SPLM. Chief among them could be extremist wing of southern nationalists whose agenda was to secede from Sudan and might have great fears that Garang’s commitment to creating a new Sudan uniting north and south was a betrayal. But they needed Garang and backed him in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which has given them political independence.

In 2011, they declared the southern region of Sudan as Republic of South Sudan. But after independence a series of bad policies, wrong judgements, mismanagement of public affairs, and indeed corruption and deceit by southern nationalists, have created a nationwide situation of despair and frustration among politically conscious citizens.

Citizens of the new Republic, both at home and abroad, also feel that they have not been given a chance to participate in the running of the affairs of their country and cannot contribute towards finding solutions to the pressing national problems.

Mrs Garang believes she has a compelling evidence regarding her husband’s death, yet she does not want to reveal this evidence to the Sudanese public as she said herself, “I did not come out openly and said he was killed because I knew the consequences.”

Garang is one of the moral heroes of this age. I met him in Harare, Zimbabwe, during my school days at a huge open-air dinner for thousands of his Harare supporters. I joined him to celebrate the year of revolution, the beginning of the spectacularly successful battle which wiped out enemy soldiers in my native town (Gogrial), which I have never seen for some years now.

Garang arrived late, with a hint of a swagger, at the long platform of favored guests. He was clad in boots and an olive green uniform, his eyes alert and a warm smile on his mouth. I arose from my seat to greet him. He was the miracle man of the Sudanese guerilla campaign, a builder of a guerilla army in the forests and bush hospitals. He had led his little guerilla band across the Sudanese-Ethiopian border through jungles and swamps to wage the crucial battle of Bor town that smashed the Khartoum forces.

Today his ashes lie in a urban graveyard in South Sudan. He led a longer guerilla campaign against the most repressive military junta in Africa. More than that, he aroused all oppressed people, both in north and south against the backward, feudal slave holding regime and its allies– those who support Arab-Islamic traditions, economic and political control.

Garang is dead, but his spirit lives. His name and portrait appear on placards carried by new guerilla bands in the northern Sudan. It seems that Sudan is once again engulfed in civil war. African Muslim fighters using the tactics of mobile and guerilla warfare have won key victories in several areas in Nuba Mountains, southern Blue Nile and Darfur against the Khartoum regime’s over-extended troops.

These victories may soon be followed by massive desertions from the regime forces. However, one thing is not yet clear within the new armed resistance groups fighting to remove uncompromising Islamists and Arabists from power in Khartoum.

Since the outbreak of new conflict in 2003, there have never been any serious possibility of building a viable coalition among these disparate groups when they all share the same objectives: the national unity and regional autonomy and power and resources sharing which had been the main goals of late John Garang.

In order to survive Khartoum’s dirty tactics, they should revisit John Garang’s guerilla tactics to advance their cause.

Garang used to say that what cannot be obtained by frontal attack may be obtained by a stratagem– that the man who cannot be knocked down in front can be stabbed from behind– the right strategy for military and political actions.

Garang represented the militant spirit of our revolutionary age. He died for intellectual freedom, equality and democracy. He represented youth and the future.

John Juac
Journalist/writer