BY: William Deng, JUBA, APR/21/2013, SSN;
Few days ago, President of South Sudan, Lt. Gen. Salva Kirr Mayarditt, sent a message on South Sudan Television (SSTV) in Juba, which read two decrees from the president: Decree one was for reduction roles the president said he has delegated to his Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny. The other degree was the cancellation of a fore waiting national reconciliation consultation for people of South Sudan.
The news of cancellation and reduction of vice president roles was shocking for many in South Sudan and around the world. Everyone looked for someone else to interpret what exactly Pres. Kiir meant by cancelling reconciliation and reducing the roles of his vice president.
It was a puzzle, and many questions were asked, such as: are we in peace? Are these constitutional roles or additional tasks that Pres. Kirr might have assigned to his vice? What else remains with Dr. Riek? Are these assigned roles delegated with decrees to Vice Pres. Dr. Riek Machar? When were the roles delegated? How much politics play in these decrees announcements?
Why cancel reconciliation? What would these decrees decisions really mean to the relationship between two big men in the country, and to what extent would Pres. Kirr decrees decisions demand on the volatile trust with average individuals who are in dire need of peace and reconciliation in South Sudan?
In short, let me attempt to share my dismay in regard to this news of cancelled reconciliation, as well as thoughts about the reduction of the vice president’s roles, while trying to answer some of these questions.
To address these unanswerable looming questions among many South Sudanese in Juba and other parts of the country, including diaspora, is a simple attempt since no one can exactly envisage what is inside the man’s hat though everyone needs aid for independent interpretation precisely on what Pres. Kirr intends in reducing the roles of his vice president and cancelling reconciliation of peace effort.
Are we in peace in the country?
There are wars in the country from different communities. Seven out ten states have no peace in their communities. In addition to rebel operations in Jonglie state, Rumbek, Eastern Equatoria, Waw, Unity State, to name just a few, have some community problems within or with their neighboring states.
People are raiding cattle; killing people include women and children, as well as forcing others to flee their homes. There is mistrust among members of different communities, while lack of access to local services have encouraged tensions within these tribal communities.
Are these constitutional roles or additional tasks that Pres. Kirr might have assigned to his vice?
Though there is a significant power delegated to one man in the country, still South Sudan Transitional Constitution does not allow president to take constitutional roles away from his vice president without a majority vote in the legislature branch. Article 105 and 106 stipulate what president can or can’t do with or without approval.
The executive duties of the vice president are constitutional duties, and president shouldn’t easily remove them without a vote from legislature branch.
“I read the read decree and looked at the transitional constitution and found that the president did not touch any constitutional powers assigned to the vice president. He [Kiir] had only withdrawn powers he had in the past delegated to his deputy. So let our people understand that the vice president is still a vice president with all his constitutional powers”, Igga told reporters.
Therefore, the power that president reduced with decree from the vice president is a simple task such as coordinating of national reconciliation or organizing and coordinating of a specific task with a time frame. None of these roles required special provisions from the Transitional Constitution, and THERE WAS NO NEED FOR A DECREE TO REDUCE THEM!
What else remains with Dr. Riek and when were the roles delegated?
What else left with vice president is certainly a lot but how? Vice Dr. Riek has taken on his shoulders to see South Sudan thrive as a successful nation. He wants to see a developed South Sudan where its people live in peace and love one another regardless of their tribal or political affiliations.
He sees a south Sudan with modern technology, roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, agriculture and entrepreneurs, clean water and rural developments, etc. This is the South Sudan Dr. Riek sees, BUT THIS IS NOT THE SOUTH SUDAN WE HAVE NOW; however, this can happen, but there has to be a trust and political will, as well as work relations between vice president and president to see these ensue.
Pres. Kirr nominated Dr. Riek from the beginning for the very reason stated above; yet, being a vice though is a role that functions in partnership. Vice president is an advisory to the president who listens and believes in the partnership and has strategic vision and mission for his country, a president who doesn’t just listen to a few from his inner circles, but a president, who perhaps, has vision for the entire nation and not immediate family members.
Are these assigned roles delegated with decrees to Vice Pres. Dr. Riek Machar?
Based on information collected, none of the reduced roles were delegated to the vice president with a decree. Pres. Kirr should have talked to vice president the same way he delegated some of these tasks without using the decree, and this is why people are confused.
Dr. Marial tried to clarify the confusion a bit when he addressed the media, “Riek Machar is still a vice president with all constitutional powers. General Salva Kiir Mayardit is a still a president with all his constitutional powers. They are all in office. What the president had done is that he had withdrawn powers he had previously delegated to the vice president. It is like you asking me to do some work for you when you are preoccupied. This is exactly what happened and it should be understood in this context”, Marial said Tuesday.
The logic question is, why did president use constitutional decree to reduce unconstitutional delegated powers? Why president fears to just call on his vice and discuss the removable roles and the reconciliation since this seemed to be the number one reason for his political action, and then diminished misperception in the country and around the world?
As James K. Ruea stated, there were huge confusion about this action, and Pres. Kirr should stop causing misunderstandings. “There is confusion. People were confused when they heard it. Some people called yesterday to ask whether I have heard [about the] removal of the vice president. These were literate people. They are educated. They read and write but because they were misinformed they thought all powers of the vice president were removed,” Ruea said.
How much politics play in these decree announcements?
This decree thing is Stone Age political propaganda that is only used by countries and leaders that fear modern democratic principles. This is all politics, but it is unhealthier one because it confused people and could generate anarchy like it almost did, and it could trigger unstoppable chaotic situation in an already divided country.
What would these decree decisions really mean to a relationship between the two big men in the country, and to what extent has Pres. Kiir’s decree decisions demanded a volatile trust he has with average individuals who are in a dire need of peace and reconciliation for South Sudan?
It is true that, “Kiir’s actions may be linked to Machar’s reported intention to run for the chairmanship of the ruling SPLM at the upcoming national convention.” http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46254, but this is unfair for a country that had lost significant numbers of human lives just to reverse what it was against.
South Sudanese communities need reconciliation. If Pres. Kirr does not trust his Vice Pres. Dr. Riek for political purposes, you, Pres. Gen. Kirr, lead the reconciliation process because we need it. The peace can’t come if people don’t talk about the importance of peace among themselves. Peace is a belief between people and that’s why effective leaders prioritize trust for peace than war and intermediations.
No one can win people’s hearts with guns, and if it were so, South Sudan could have been independent state almost 50 years ago. Please, President Kirr prioritizes peace and never fear your political enemies by denying them their political democratic rights which had caused lives of many South Sudanese.
South Sudan has to be a democratic nation; otherwise, we would not live in peace despite any effort you or any one in your position would like to attempt. South Sudanese are exposed to democratic principles, and it is important for their leaders to understand not to repeat the mistake SPLM Politic Bureau did in 2010, which was a fundamental source of the current chaotic situation; otherwise, Somalia would be better than South Sudan.
But, nothing would be reasonable unless my SPLM party led by you, Mr. President Kiir, adheres to core principles that our beloved relatives, include my own father, sacrificed their precious lives for. SPLM that was supposed to stand for peace, justice, human rights, freedom, non-discrimination, regardless of gender, tribe, religious, etc., development, democratic principles and more is different now than ever.
The party becomes a property of shortsighted leaders who care less about young people like myself except their own children. The party is owned by those that don’t want to diversify or include others that they deem enemies because of challenging their shortsighted vision for the country and peoples services.
The party of Dr. John Garang and all fallen heroes, included my father, was a party of new ideas and development, but has become a greedy party.
This party is a peoples’ party, and it has to stay as a peoples’ party by listening to what is importance for lives of people of the South Sudan. People need peace among themselves; we need good leadership, a transparent leadership that minimizes corruption, favoritism, etc.
We need development, such as roads and bridges, good education, access to clean water, hospitals and employment for all young people and not only those with connections in the government. Our party should be a party that welcomes young people’s ideas, as well as respect democratic principles for all people in South Sudan.
Please, Mr. Pres. Kirr hears our call!!!
William Deng is a South Sudanese Community Activist.
Author lives and works in Job South Sudan. E-mail me: email@example.com