Archive for: August 2017

What have we learnt from “KOKORA” in South Sudan?

BY: Yakani Taban, AUG/10/2017, SSN;

At least every informed South Sudanese is aware of the political waves that wracked the south in the early nineteen eighties when the former military leader, Field Marshal Jaafar Mohamed Nimeri, issued a presidential decree dividing the then Southern region into three sub-regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and the Bahr El Gazal.

The move was received with mixed reactions by the southern Sudanese masses; simply because of its implications, which denoted that Equatoria was for the Equatorians, Upper Nile for the people of the region and Bahr El Gazal for the Bahr El Gazalians.

While most Equatorians, led by the last president of the higher executive council, Joseph James Tombura, jumped at the decree, the people from Upper Nile and Bahr El Gazal regions, ground their teeth as they swallowed the above fire into their hearts.

No one can tell exactly the reasons behind that, however some just felt deprived from the symbolic capital of southern Sudan, Juba, while others had some major items in their heads.

At that very time the Addis Ababa agreement that halted the Seventeen years old Anyanya 1 guerrilla war was also brought to an end.

Coupled up with the Turabis baked Islamic September laws, Southern Sudan and other parts of the country were turned into blood fields.

Although not all the Equatorians supported the idea of the Kokora, they were all seen as the master minds behind the issuance of the decree. It was a concept that they did not like other people in their territory just because those people are different.

Indeed some differences existed between the Equatorians and people from the other regions of the South, but those ethnic difference per se did not pose any tension. On the contrary all the row that erupted were judgmental based on practical malpractices between the predominant pastoralists of the other regions on one hand and the mainly agriculturist Equatorians on the other.

Furthermore nobody could under estimate the level of political, social, security and economic crises southern Sudan was facing by then. Yet there were differences of opinions on the issue of Kokora which came at a time when people were still ignorant about the so-called federalism or decentralisation of power.

BUT the very big question that demands a critical answer is, why did some people opt for that Kokora? One may look into it as synonymous with asking the question, why did southern Sudanese demand a self determination from the Arab Islamic northerners?

Well, Sir Isaac Newton said, “to every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction”. Although Newton’s law is now fully engulfed in the text books of Physics, the day to day practices have proved that not all actions receive equal and opposite reactions.

Nevertheless every body reacts to a specific action in order to acquire a condition that will suit its status at that given time. So perhaps the demand that resulted to the attainment of the Kokora was simply a reaction to other events in the then integrated southern region for which Kokora was seen as a solution.

The single semi-autonomous Southern region under the Addis Ababa agreement might have fallen into hands that irrigated the germination of Kokora.

The idea of a “Kokora” [be divided], which emerged spontaneously among the people when other conditions could no more be tolerated by some in the then Southern region; did not just erupt because people wanted to live alone.

The sons and daughters of the greater Equatoria that embraced the kokora {the jungle federalism}, might have had their voices higher for some of the faults generated in the region; but the referees turned deaf ears to them. Whether it was because of ignorance that people did not know what was happening on the ground, no one could tell.

But the broad daylights revealed clearly the destruction of all those elements that are needed for human cohesion.

Men from different socio-cultural backgrounds can only be bound together by universal norms that are governed by basic principles of “Respect for one another” and abidance by the rule of law. Once the universal norms are undermined due to ignorance, tribal or selfish desires, then there is no any excuse for the fragments that follows.

So it should be made clearly that the new South Sudan that has emerged after the signing of the CPA should have been the direct beneficiary from the 1983 incident and embarked itself to provide the best for her people through proper governance.

It is not an easy task to accomplish as people are still recovering from poverty and post-war situation where the AK-47 rifles are still the best friends for some individuals. However more and more effort has to be exerted to allow a reasonable atmosphere for our minds to operate in so as to change the South for the better.

Good governance among others just entails avoidance of some elements, and adhesion to the universal norms which include the following:-

1-The rule of law:
Every body is equal before the law and no one is above it. As such the duty of every citizen is to respect and abide by what is rated as a law. In this respect a man who understands and respects the law will not be happy seeing some body stepping his feet on it while forcing others to be the prey.

It is also of much significance that the barrel of the gun remains as far away as possible to matters relating to laws to ensure that law and order are strictly observed. Equally important is the avoidance of judiciary biasness which is usually influenced by tribalism in areas where judges happen to be from one particular zone.

2- Avoidance of Nepotism.
A state grows rapidly when the right man automatically fits in to the right position regardless of where he comes from. And if the right man operates because of his capabilities, let him work in peace. However widespread practices of nepotism in both government and non-governmental organisations is a very serious disease that cripples every giant society.

No any sound society would tolerate selfish and greedy men rounding all their state properties for their relatives and friends and letting the vast majority go hungry; especially if the very relatives constantly prove to be incompetent.

3- No to Civil unrest.
Any normal person would not tolerate any sort of disturbance to his tranquility. It is crystal clear that the ultimate goal of every man on the earth is to have happiness or comfortable life. You can have all the resources but still will not be happy if you are constantly afraid of the uncertainty; not about the natural ones but those created by men’s barbaric behaviors.

Best examples include the use of force in what does not belong to you to the point of even killing the owner {i.e. banditry]. Let the fisherman, tailor, farmer, driver, butcher man etc, alone and they will be your friends. But you will be a worse enemy to a farmer if you happened to be his LOCUST, worst enemy to the trader if you are his bandit etc.

A lot of malpractices might have happened in the post-Addis Ababa agreement era that ultimately nursed the emergence of a group of people who felt that they would be better off alone than being constantly subjected to ways of life that do not please them.

“Kokora,” which is still a fresh history in people’s minds, was just the beginning of what is now being adopted as federalism in the whole country with the South having ten states instead of the three of 1983 being governed by people from the respective states.

There are those who saw that the division of the south in 1983 was the application of divide-and-rule principle intended to weaken the southerners; while others saw it as a decentralisation of power. Moreover, few enjoyed that status of keeping the fisherman near the sea, the teacher in a classroom and the pilot at the airport.

All the same, whatever it was, let its negative legacy be a lesion to every Southern Sudanese citizen. It has created a history that only the open-minded will benefit from. Wise man learns from his past mistakes.

As such it is my personal hope that our wise southerners will not let us down again by creating a vicious cycle. No man would wish to stumble twice on the same stone without thinking of either to remove or dodge it.

If Kokora was bad, and also other negative behaviours happened which resulted to the creation of Kokora; then it is time that people move with torches to avoid stumbling on the same stone again.

Southern Sudan is now in the era of the CPA where old wounds have healed and people are strongly working together to build a giant region.

No one should think it is now time to punish those who called for the kokora, or feel reserved because of the legacy created by kokora. As such negative thoughts will take the South to nowhere other than the journey to Rwanda 94, or to the former Yugoslavia.

So, unless people remove themselves from the African hang-over where one refuses to learn positively from his past mistakes, then the desire to create a solid southern region will just remain an illusion on the minds of the policy makers and our beautiful South will constantly be a region that will not hold her children.

Two to three generations will pass and the region will still continue supplying the rest of the world with malnourished deprived children.

No one is condoning the circumstances that produced Kokora or the existence of that perceived Kokora, as everybody is hoping for a stable South Sudan. And this stable South demands a stronger unity of minds that is free of all sorts of tribal, regional or selfish influences. END

Kenya has a Win-Win Choice in the Upcoming General Election

By: Agou Anyieth Kur, Political & Communication Strategist living in Canada, AUG/07/2017, SSN;

An appeal for a peaceful and fair democractic process.

As you go into the August general election, I want to draw your atten-tion to something that might not be too obvious in all the current hus-tle and bustle towards the general election. This concept of mine as given away by the title of this article is that contrary to the zero-sum narrative coming from your political class and the media, I implore you to view the forthcoming general election as a win-win contest and a celebration of your democratic journey and self governance: Madara-ka, as it is popularly known in your country.

“Siasa Mbaya”

In the East African region and other parts of the world, you have seen the suffering, destruction and death caused by Siasa Mbaya, to use the famous phrase by Mzee Daniel Arap Moi, the former president of Kenya. But what exactly is Siasa Mbaya?

If it will help, let me disclose right away that, I, the author of this article, I am from South Sudan. That must have rung a bell in your head even if you haven’t been keenly following the political happenings across the region and around the globe in the past few years.

At this very moment, the degree of human suffering happening in South Sudan is so despicable and un-imaginable for this century. Innocent civilians are needlessly dying and starving because of a recklessly-played politics that disregards the aspirations that many South Sudanese had for their country.

Syria and Yemen are comparable cases to South Sudan but I will stick to South Sudan for illustration since it neighbours your beautiful country and you possibly know it better than the two aforementioned coun-tries.

Having given this example, I hope I have laid bare the dire con-sequences of Siasa Mbaya without having to explicitly define it. From Siasa Mbaya, a chain of unfortunate events can transpire leading to an all-out war and needless suffering as is the case in South Sudan. When Thomas Hobbes, a 16th-century political philosopher wrote in his Leviathan about the state of war as being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”, I would say that he had South Sudan in mind.

A GREAT PRESIDENTIAL FIELD

Despite the post-election doom and gloom being predicted by some pundits, how colourful the Kenya’s 2017 presidential field is should not go without getting noticed. It may appear obvious but it is worth the praise and pride of every Kenyan.

From Mr. Mohammed Abduba Dida, to Dr. Ekuru Aukot, to the front-runner duo of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, Kenyans should be thankful of the diversity of the leadership that they can choose from and the state of their democra-cy.

It is not perfect but it can get better. In my opinion, this current Kenyan presidential campaign is less nasty than the 2016 circus show that ended up producing Donald Trump as the president of the United States.

I will pay much attention to the two front-runners for now since only both of them have considerably higher chances of winning the upcom-ing election in comparison to the rest.

To begin with H E. President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, some may question his ability but only a few may doubt his kindness, sincerity and good intentions. To the young people in East Africa and across our continent, President Kenyatta is well respected for his modern views and his desire to make Kenya a more developed nation.

Up to this point, he has done a hugely com-mendable job to that effect notwithstanding the corruption scandals that have been a little of a nightmare during his first term. Coming to the Former Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga, a lot of great things can be said about his illustrious career in Kenyan political scene.

Very few opposition leaders across Africa come close in comparison. From his progressive views of the world to his lofty ideals of what Kenya can be going all the way to his contributions (alongside others) to ensure that Kenya gets on a multi-party demo-cratic path, a progressive constition in 2010, it is not an easy task to find a living match for Raila across our continent.

Having Uhuru and Raila among those from whom Kenyans can choose their president in the August 8 election is another thing that you my Kenyan brothers and sisters should be proud of. I think no sane Kenya would opt to trade leaders with North Korea (where there is no diversity of leader-ship to choose from) or Zimbabwe (where our once revered African elder has now clung on to the presidency and would not let go to allow for diversity of leadership and fresh ideas to chart the future).

Kenya still remains a beacon of hope, peace, progress and democra-cy irrespective of the happenings of 2007/2008. Your elections may not be perfect (and elections never are in most parts of the world) but they are regular and your democracy is maturing with every election. 10-15 years from now, your democracy might be the closest thing to perfection in the whole of Africa.

That is, of course, if you build on the constitutional progress of the past few years. Any bystander, like I am, would seriously advise you not to squander that due to some short-sighted and hollow tribal vanity. You would not want your coun-try to go the South Sudanese way.

NEVER AGAIN?

As the 2007 Election violence had taught you, I have heard voices ranging from ordinary Kenyans to leaders saying that “never again should Kenyans shed blood because of an election.” But do you really mean those words?

Le me end with this recollection from 2008. When the National accord was signed, I was watching your parliament’s special sitting when it approved the National Accord. Sometime around noon after the Ken-yan army band had played the national anthem, they marched to the tune of the gospel song: “Baraka za Mungu kweli ni-za ajabu” , which translates to “the blessings of the Lord are truly miraculous.” That moment reflected your ideals and aspiration as a Godly nation of “Amani and Umoja” and it is what you should all aspire for ahead of the upcoming election. Don’t mess your country up.

Agou Anyieth Kur
Political and Communication Strategist living in Canada.
agoukur@gmail.com.

The SPLM govt. is a monopolist govt. but without control

By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda. AUG/07/2017, SSN;

While it doesn’t help to blame people when there’s a problem, the best thing to do is to fix the problem first and then to blame later but in cases where the problem is recurring constantly, then the one who fails constantly must be targeted and blamed.

The conflict in Gok State like other States in South Sudan is the clear failure of the SPLM Governments both in Juba and in different States. The government of South Sudan has failed to know that citizens accepted her rule to protect them.

When the SPLM government fails through inaction then that is a neglect of duty. It is sad to see the government officials just sitting there watching at the citizens butchering each other like nothing while blaming them.

It means that there is a problem with the SPLM.

Moreover, it means that we do not have the government at all as the government in power is the government which clearly know hows to steal resources from the citizens but not how to protect them.

How can the government allow citizens in Gok State and other States to commit such despicable crime against each other while just sitting there doing nothing.

The conclusion one can reach is that the government of South Sudan is worse than the imperialist government that was controlling Africa from 1914 to 1990s. The imperialists or colonialists were even better since they could protect citizens and stop them from killing each other.

We liberated ourselves just to come and put ourselves in a cage of bad governance where government is doing its own things and citizens are doing their own things.

Government of South Sudan is only effective when it comes to taking of resources from citizens.

What is the use of those gunships and jet fighters that were used in fighting against Riek Machar?

What if the government ordered the citizens to surrender all their guns and if they refuse then they should be declared as terrorists and dealt with in accordance with the international and national laws governing terrorism by even employing these gunships and jet fighters?

Where they bought purposely to protect the president against Riek Machar but not to protect citizens and nation? Why are we sold alive for power?

What is happening in Gok state is the tragedy caused by the inaction of the SPLM Governments both in the State and Juba.

We must blame the President of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayar for interfering with the way the Government of Gok State was running the State.

The people of Gok State should know that their problems go back to the president facilitated by the failure of the government of Gok State.

If the Governor was allowed by the President to continue imposing death penalty on those who kill others and just advise him on how to apply it properly, the current deaths of which within two months over fifty (50) people were killed would have not happened.

It is sad and incomprehensible to the Government of South Sudan running the country like a mercenary Government or proxy Government borrowed to advance the imperialists agenda in South Sudan with the sole aim of controlling natural resources.

I have never seen the Government that failed to try to control the citizens because it does not know what to do. The wisest thing the government should do under such a situation is to resign and allow other citizens who are capable to try.

However, the SPLM Government both in the States and Juba try to monopolize the system but without any control. This monopoly without control is worse than sin.

The SPLM Government has closed its ears to all the possible suggestions while lying supinely on phantom hope that God will bring a solution which is not forthcoming.

God will never bring any solution unless we human beings take an action while praying to God. That is when God can help us because God helps those who help themselves.

If God has created us, given us brain and power to change things to our benefits and then we sit there just to watch at bad things happening yet we are capable of controlling them then there is a problem. We are even putting God to temptation.

In summary, unless the SPLM government learns how to think and how to deal with crime then South Sudan will be destroyed. I really feel sad for my beautiful people that the government of South Sudan allows to kill themselves in Gok State and other States.

The Government must take a tough approach on Gok State or allow other citizens chosen by citizens of Gok State to run the State and protect them.

NB//: The Author is a lawyer by profession; he graduated with honors in law from Makerere University Law School. He participated in various works and training in community mobilization in awareness of their constitutional rights in Uganda. He is the member of Public Interest Law Clinic(PILAC) and NETPIL (Network of Public Interest Lawyers) at Makerere University; he is currently doing research with NETPIL on private prosecution; he is trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); he participated in writing Street Law Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Uganda. He is practising with Onyango and Company Advocates Bunga—Ggaba, Road Kampala He is currently staying in Kampala Uganda where he is undertaking bar course training. He can be reached through: juoldaniel@yahoo.com or +256783579256.

Making Sense Out Of The Unprecedented Politics in The Republic of South Sudan

BY: Dr. Lako Jada KWAJOK, AUG/06/2017, SSN;

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world was bipolar regarding political alliances. America was the leading superpower of the Western bloc of nations while the Soviet Union controlled the Eastern bloc with an iron fist. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was never a match to any of the two camps. It never succeeded in placing itself as a third world power in practical terms. The reason was that many of the member states were one way or another affiliated with the two camps. Moreover, it encompasses a group of countries that have little in common. The Western bloc follows capitalism while communist and socialist ideologies ruled the Eastern bloc. The Non-Aligned Movement hasn’t got an ideology of its own to make it a cohesive bloc.

The fall of the Soviet Union ushered in a new era in international politics marked by unipolar world order. It made America the dominant superpower with unrivalled influence over global affairs. I believe that era is coming to an end with the rapid growth of Chinese influence across the world and the resurgence of Russia as a superpower to reckon with.

However, international politics and cooperation have more often been influenced by political ideology rather than mutual interests. The prominent example is the policy of boycott that was used for over half a century by the USA and China against Cuba and Taiwan respectively.

In the case of South Sudan, a new sort of international politics seems to be at work. It’s whereby ideological affiliation plays a lesser role in defining international cooperation. Monopoly by one superpower and loyalty to it particularly in the field of armament appear to be practices of the past. It’s common knowledge that if a country has military cooperation including arms deals with the Western bloc, it will have none with the Eastern bloc and vice versa. Of course, it’s understandable that each side would not want its military secrets and technology to be accessed by the other side.

It’s a rule of thumb that seems to have been overlooked in South Sudan’s arms deals. The knowledge of weapons shipments to the regime in Juba from China, Ukraine and Russia (countries that were previously part of the Eastern Bloc) – has been in the public domain for a while.

Also, we do know that an Agreement of Military Cooperation and Training does exist between the government of South Sudan and the USA. We have never seen something like it before. The situation is certainly one of a kind whereby you find Western Bloc countries and Eastern bloc countries “collaborating” to arm an embattled regime.

The wonder never ceases when you ponder over the Israeli and Egyptian involvement in South Sudan’s affairs. There is a case before the Israeli Supreme Court submitted by the Israeli Human Rights Activists demanding a criminal investigation into alleged unlawful arms deals. It’s regarding the role of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Foreign Affairs officials and Israeli arms dealers in supplying weapons that were used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. It transpires that the Galil Ace assault rifles were sold to the government of South Sudan but ended up being used to arm the Mathiang Anyoor government militia.

Israeli involvement in South Sudan’s affairs may not be a surprise to many people given the fact that Israel has always been a sort of an ally to the South Sudanese since the birth of the Anyanya movement in the sixties of the last century. However, Egyptian involvement on the side of the government is something unprecedented. Historically, Egyptian policies have consistently been hostile to the South Sudanese aspirations.

Egypt has been all along on the side of the Northerners since the time of President Jamal Abdul Nasser. Although its policy towards South Sudan did change following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005 – still the relations remained formal or at best described as a friendly relation that lacks warmth. Egyptian Foreign policy towards the region is majorly driven by its need to lobby as many countries as possible to bolster its agenda in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Now we hear of Egyptian arms supplies to the regime in Juba coupled with agreements for cooperation in various fields. It makes one wonder – what happened to the Arab league policy of boycotting any African country that has an active military and diplomatic ties with Israel? Some of you may know that you will not be given an entry visa to Sudan if your passport carries an Israeli stamp. In fact, the following translated Arabic phrase is found on Sudanese passports (For all countries except Israel). It’s an Arab League directive; therefore, I would expect a similar expression on Egyptian passports. It’s amazing that with such level of antagonism, how could the two countries supply arms to the same client and work in the same vicinity training the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)?!

During the war of liberation, Russia and China were clearly on the side of Sudan government frustrating attempts by the US and its allies to impose sanctions against Sudan at the UN. The Americans were the only heavy-weight ally that the SPLM/SPLA got on its side. A paradox arose in December 2016 when the US sought an arms embargo against the government of South Sudan at the UN Security Council (UNSC). In the face of Russia wielding a veto against the arms embargo – the US was left with no choice other than withdrawing its draft resolution before being put for voting.

It looked like the Western bloc of nations, and the Eastern bloc of nations swapped their sides. Furthermore, the American position in itself displayed the second paradox when judged against US actions. Almost around the time when it was seeking the arms embargo; it renewed the Military Cooperation Agreement with the Republic of South Sudan. What happened highlighted the inconsistency that marked the US policy towards the regime in Juba since the war broke out in December 2013.

Contemporary world history never witnessed such meddling into a Sovereign State’s internal affairs by neighbouring countries on the scale seen in South Sudan. The Ugandan military intervention in late December 2013 and Early January 2014, brought up questions regarding the legality of the act in international law.

The regime in Juba claimed that an agreement was in place between the two countries that permitted the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to intervene. But the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), that is tasked to ratify such agreements was unaware of the existence of anything of that sort. Even if there were to be a Mutual Defense Treaty, it would have sanctioned UPDF intervention in the case of foreign invasion but not in a civil war.

Uganda was only safeguarding its enormous economic interests in South Sudan and would resist any attempts for regime change at all costs. It’s not a secret that many South Sudanese are pointing fingers at Uganda as the entity behind the demise of General George Athor, and the disappearance of opposition leader Peter Abdul Rahman Sule and General Elias Lino Jada.

Kenya is the second beneficiary of the Juba government after Uganda. It has dominated the financial and banking system in South Sudan. Some Kenyans were given influential government positions Like Dr Renish Achieng Omullo. She was appointed as Special Envoy to the Federal Republic of Germany by a Presidential Decree. While some highly qualified South Sudanese were denied positions for the ridiculous reason of being overqualified, a foreigner gets employed in a sensitive post in a country that does not lack qualified persons. It’s up to the reader to draw his or her conclusions as to why such a thing could happen.

However, the most disturbing aspect of the relation between the two governments is the involvement of the Kenyan government in the kidnapping and deportation to Juba of the opposition operatives. James Gatdet Dak, the former spokesman for Dr Riek Machar, was the first victim of the sinister cooperation between the Kenyan government and the regime in Juba. Subsequently, it didn’t take long for the Kenyan ally to lend Kiir’s government a helping hand by making the Human Rights activists Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idri disappear from the streets of Nairobi.

The track record of the Juba government has shown to the world unsurpassable irresponsibility. Its policies do not promote unity and peaceful coexistence among the diverse communities nor do they project the image of South Sudan as a Sovereign State. There is no doubt that the regime has utterly failed in all aspects of governance.

The international community would be ill-advised to continue entertaining the notion that sustainable peace could emerge from the ashes of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS). The High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) would neither work nor the National Dialogue (ND) that was launched by Kiir’s regime. It’s apparent that the international community has got limitations to what it could do and the obvious example is its failure to impose an arms embargo on the government of South Sudan.

We also do remember how the Rwanda genocide unfolded under the watch of the UN and the superpowers. We should bear in our minds as South Sudanese that many in the international community and the regional powers are in our country pursuing their private agendas and interests. As we speak illegal gold mining is being carried out vigorously by various foreign entities and other precious resources are being plundered as well.

The regime has leased or sold large pieces of land to foreign individuals and firms, not to mention putting the country under massive debts by borrowing large sums of money from abroad. It’s committing a generational theft that would certainly land our future generations in the red from the start.

Right now South Sudan gives the impression of a place where there is plenty to gain for everyone except the South Sudanese people. It has become a safe haven for international fortune hunters, thieves and crooks. But the blame for what has become of the Republic of South Sudan falls squarely on the military junta and the self-serving politicians in Juba.

Many lessons could be learned from the above account to avoid being misled and disappointed. The central point though is that salvation from the failed regime will not come from abroad but from the people of South Sudan. The way forward has never been clearer than at any time since the start of the conflict.

For peace to be realised and flourish on our soil – Kiir’s regime must go either through an inclusive new Peace Agreement whereby accountability is paramount or the hard way through other means.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

Caught in South Sudan’s War: Dinka Juba govt abuses in Equatoria

BY: Audrey Wabwire, EastAfrica Press Officer, Human Rights Watch, AUG/03/2017, SSN;

One hot Tuesday afternoon last January, about 10 South Sudanese government soldiers came to Elizabeth’s village, Romoji, in Kajo Keji county, near the Ugandan border. Many of the farming villages in her area have become the front lines of South Sudan’s four-year civil war.

“The soldiers came close to the house around 4:00 pm,” said Elizabeth, a tall, slender woman in her thirties. “I was cooking at home when my son told me that soldiers had come. My husband Kristofer went outside the house to check. They shot him.”

When her two sons, aged 10 and 5, went out to check on their father, the soldiers shot them dead too. Elizabeth (not her real name), ran from her home, hearing soldiers firing their guns. One soldier chased her and caught her. He was tall, like the rest of them. He did not speak to her, but threatened her with a knife and twisted her arm, breaking it. Elizabeth believes he wanted to kill her, though she’s not sure what stopped him. “Maybe they let me go because they had already killed 3 people,” she says.

Despite a 2015 peace agreement, fighting between South Sudan’s government and rebel forces has spread to the country’s southern Greater Equatorias region, which had been somewhat insulated from the war until late 2015 when it began to spread.

As in elsewhere in South Sudan, the fighting split communities down ethnic lines – with mostly Dinka government troops and armed militia targeting the mostly non-Dinka communities they suspected of supporting the rebels.

The violence and abuses – largely committed by government forces during counter-insurgency operations in western parts of the country and in the southern Equatorias region – have displaced hundreds of thousands in the last year alone, mostly to Uganda, which now hosts almost a million South Sudanese.

Since the conflict started in December 2013, igniting in Juba and spreading north, more than 2 million people fled to neighboring countries with another 2 million displaced internally, making South Sudan the largest humanitarian disaster in Africa today.

Soon after this attack, Elizabeth’s mother and her 3 remaining children fled to Uganda. Elizabeth told Human Rights Watch how she hid in a riverbed nearby for four days, drinking water with one hand because her other arm was broken.

She said she ate soil to survive. When she came out of hiding, her village was abandoned. She managed to find transport with assistance from the UN, and came to Uganda, where she now lives with her family as a refugee.

Elizabeth’s past torments her and her future hangs in the balance. In May 2017, when Human Rights Watch spoke with Elizabeth, she could not stop crying.

Five months later, she is clearly still traumatized – not just psychologically but physically: her arm hangs limp by her side and it is difficult for her to find a way to care for her family. She worries about finding food and does not sleep at night, she says.

When she pauses in her story, Elizabeth stares listlessly into the horizon. “My husband was a farmer, why did they kill him? With one arm, how do I care for the children and my mother? I want to commit suicide,” she says.

Although the camp offers some security, no one truly feels safe. Family members who dare to venture across the border to collect food from home face further attacks. Elizabeth walks back to her tent to prepare an evening meal for her children, a task she used to enjoy, but now struggles to perform. END

Collo Community to Pres. Kiir: Return grabbed Collo land without dialogue or negotiation

Collo Community Council: AUG/07/2017;

Collo Community Council would like to inform all Collo people residing in Sudan and those concerned about Collo land problems everywhere that the council met a group coming from the government of South Sudan on Monday 24 July 2017 in Khartoum.

The group which actually requested to meet the Council is part of the so-called national dialogue committee that was formed by President Salva Kiir some time back. The group said the meeting with the Council was part of its program of contacting influential persons, groups and organizations which it thinks could help in making peace return to South Sudan.

The Council thanked the group for its initiative to meet. But the Council said clearly that its members and the Collo people they are representing have nothing to do with Kiir’s dialogue. The council’s prime concern is the land that has been grabbed. That land grabbing process started with the presidential decree establishing the Dinka Padang’s Pijo County on Collo land of Athidhyang and Obay.

The appeal and the complaint raised by the late James Ogilo Agor and Samson Oyay Awin were ignored by President Salva Kiir whom the two gentlemen met in person. Instead President Kiir, on the advice of the Jieng Council, went further to grab Malakal and areas along the Sobat River and those falling east of the White Nile. The creation of 28 states that grabbed a very large Collo land was effected through a decree not dialogue.

The Council, therefore, stressed that since our land was grabbed via a decree its return should follow the same process – a decree. Collo has been forced into war and many of them are currently displaced in UN camps inside South Sudan or have crossed the borders to refugee camps in neighboring countries. The national dialogue members who want to go to Collo villages will not find anyone to talk to.

The point that the Council clearly stated to the committee from Juba was the following:
“If President Salva Kiir really wants peace with Collo, let him decree the return of all Collo lands that were grabbed and given to Dinka Padang. This process does not need dialogue or negotiation.”

Samson Oyay Awin
Chairman,
Collo Community Council Khartoum
Khartoum
Press Release
Thursday 27 July 2017