Category: Featured

LATEST: Businesses close as South Sudan Civil War takes its toll

By NJIRAINI MUCHIRA, THE EAST AFRICAN, OCT/18/2017, SSN;

Kris Mbaya, the managing director of UAP Old Mutual South Sudan, who was posted to the country in early 2013, is among business managers who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of South Sudan’s business landscape in its short history of 11 years as an independent state.

Indeed, UAP Equatorial Tower, the tallest building in the country at 15 storeys high, is a fitting analogy of how businesses that flocked into South Sudan following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006 have crashed.

UAP was among the first companies to venture into South Sudan at Independence, and invested $30 million in putting up the building in 2011 to provide foreign investors with ultra-modern office space.

But the breakout of violence in 2013, following the fallout between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar meant that the building could not be completed on time and as such had no tenants for a long time.

The tower — with only 23 per cent occupancy —is a painful reminder of a strategic investment decision that went awry.

Occupancy will rise to 35 per cent when the Kenyan embassy in Juba relocates to the building by end of the year.

Although it generates minimum revenue, the building generates costs. Every month, UAP spends $15,000 for diesel to power the generator, which is the only source of power, and $5,000 for satellite Internet. In Kenya, it would cost only $400 for the same Internet capacity.

However, the building also represents the long term view of South Sudan opportunities.

“We believe in the long term potential of South Sudan. This country represents the mantra of high risks, high returns for us as a business,” said James Wambugu, UAP Old Mutual Group managing director in charge of general business.

While UAP believes in the potential of South Sudan, other companies have fled because of insecurity, political uncertainty and a struggling economy.

Sme’s close down

Several small and medium enterprises owned by foreigners have also closed down, while traders bringing goods into the country, particularly foodstuffs and other consumer products, are operating in a difficult environment.

“Business in Juba used to boom, but things have been tough since the crisis,” said Peter Kaikara, a Uganda national who supplies alcoholic beverages to several outlets in Juba.

Considering that South Sudan largely depends on imports, the cost of living and of basic commodities is high due to the poor state of roads and lack of electricity. The country has only 400 km of paved road.

A bottle of 500ml Kenyan beer brand Tusker that costs $1.9 in Kenya is $3.3 in Juba. Rent for a one-bedroomed apartment ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 per month.

Juba has one mall, City Mall, which is a pale shadow of those found in other East African capitals.

Unemployed young people crowd the streets in Juba, idling away and drinking strong tea; motorcycles (boda bodas) are the main source of earning a living for many.

The unemployment crisis has been exacerbated by the exit of numerous foreign companies while others have scaled down their operations after experiencing losses.

Kenyan multinationals like KCB Group, Stanbic Holdings, Equity Group, Co-op Bank and CIC Insurance are some of the businesses that have significantly reduced their operations in the country.

The hopes of prosperity and opportunities that came with the signing of the Peace Accord in 2006 have been diminished.

Three years of political instability and prolonged fighting between government forces and rebels, particularly in the oilfield states of Paloch, Upper Nile and Maiwut, have crippled the economy that is highly dependent on oil.

Cash crunch

The cash crunch from oil earnings has made it impossible for the government to meet even basic financial obligations, including paying salaries of civil servants, teachers and the police, some of whom are earning $20 per month.

The government has no money to finance key programmes like health, education and agriculture to secure food production.

Despite its huge tracts of fertile soil and water resources, South Sudan remains largely a subsistence agriculture state. Currently the country imports 70 per cent of food from Kenya and Uganda, and humanitarian organisations say that about half of the population is food insecure.

“Food security continues to deteriorate across South Sudan with life-threatening hunger spreading in scale and scope, making 2017 the most food-insecure year in the country’s history,” states a report by the United States Agency for International Development.

By July, approximately six million people were experiencing crises or higher levels of acute food insecurity and were in urgent need of emergency aid.

Despite being a significant oil producer, South Sudan depends on imports of petroleum products for local use, with diesel in the country being among the most expensive in East Africa at $1.05 per litre, compared with $0.95 in Kenya.

The government has established a fuel subsidy programme to ensure fuel trades at $0.2 per litre.

Sanction the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE)- the obstructer of peace that’s hiding in the open

By: Samuel Atabi,South Sudanese, OCT/03/2017, SSN;

The recent sanctioning of three of Kiir’s henchmen by the US government is having a salutary effect on the slow progress towards peace in South Sudan. However, much more remains to be done, especially further identification of the main culprits of obstruction and anti-peace elements that must include the self-styled Jieng Council of Elders, the JCE.

To most South Sudanese, the JCE is the single most important candidate for sanctions, which it has so far evaded by hiding, under the cloak of a community-based organization, in the plain site of the sanctions investigators; the latter should now turn their searchlight on this shadowy and dangerous anti-peace outfit.

Evidence abounds on the obstructive role that this mafia-like organization has been playing in frustrating effort to achieve peace in our country. When in the past Kiir refused to sign the ARCSS in Addis Ababa in 2015, he gave an excuse that he wanted to first consult with his “people”; the people he meant was actually the JCE.

The same organization has also been responsible for several other objections by the Kiir regime on issues concerned with deployment of peace-keepers in South Sudan.

JCE and its members do not just obstruct peace; they also get involved in decisions of the military council and other security matters that have direct bearing on the war and peace in that country. Consequently, one must therefore, wonder what drives the JCE in playing this negative role in our body politics.

In order to answer this question, it is important to know where the JCE is coming from. JCE is what it is: it is a conspiratorial and tribal mafia-like organization whose main objective is arguably to advance the interest of the Dinka people at the expense of other non-Dinka South Sudanese.

It first came into being in the 1960’s when Southern Sudanese leaders decided to wage a war against the government in Khartoum for the right of self-determination. The war was largely fought in the region of Equatoria and was largely led by Equatorians. Names of leaders like Saturnino Ohure, Joseph Lagu, Pankrasyo Ocheng, Abu John, Gbatala, Jada, Aggrey Jaden, Joseph Oduho, all of whom are and were Equatorians, can easily be remembered.

The Dinka leaders were conspicuously absent in the movement; under the tutelage of Abel Alier, they chose to fight for the same cause in the enemy’s capital in Khartoum! It was there that the budding JCE ideology of ethnic dominance, captured in the epithet “Dinka are born to rule”, emerged.

At its very basic, the ideology postulates that the Dinka are born natural leaders and should prepare themselves to dominate political, military, and economic leadership in South Sudan.

But while expounding this Hitlerite ideology the JCE was also aware at that time that the educational, economic and social backwardness of the wider Dinka population then and now would not provide the necessary structural support for the actualization of this ideology.

To cure this weakness, they preferred that an alliance with the Arabs in northern Sudan was essential; as the power holder in the whole Sudan, the Arabs would hold the ring against their more advanced competitor, the Equatorians, while at the same time promoting the dominance of the Dinka elite in the South.

The opportunity to implement this policy presented itself in 1972, when the mainly Equatorian leaders of the liberation movement entered into peace negotiations with the Arab government, in Addis Ababa. The head of the Khartoum government delegation was none other than Abel Alier, the Chief Priest of the “Born to Rule” ideology.

This was the first evidential confirmation that the Dinka indeed were in alliance with the Arabs. The subsequent autonomous governments of the South which were the result of the negotiations were dominated by Abel Alier with his key lieutenants and acolytes that included an anti-Equatorian politician, called Bona Malual.

But the Equatorians did not take this dominance lying down. In a clever and dexterous political maneuver, Joseph Lagu, and other Equatorian leaders, managed to bring about the division of the South into three autonomous regions of: Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile.

Kokora, as the act of the division came to be called in the Bari language, made Abel Alier and his Dinka people to vacate Equatoria and return to govern and develop their own region. This move expectedly angered the Dinka elite as it spelt doom to their plan for dominating the whole South. The ire directly led to the creation of the SPLA/M.

After the division, the immediate objective of the Dinka leaders of the SPLA/M was to revert the South to the single entity that had existed before the division in order to restore their alliance with the Arabs and revive their plan for the South.

This, as we know, did not happen, instead, the South became independent with the Arabs permanently removed from the South’s political scene. This move again threatened their ideological objective and also incurred the loss of their essential ally.

To counter this loss of an important ally, and rescue their overall plan, the JCE had to go back to the drawing board to reformulate their ideology without their Arab benefactors. The consequence of this reformulation is what is now taking place in the Republic of South Sudan.

Now, the solution for countering the perceived educational, economic and social superiority of their nemesis, the Equatorians, is to devise a situation where the Dinka population, mainly the youth, is preferentially empowered through quality education in foreign countries in Africa and oversees. (Meanwhile schools and universities in South Sudan that cater for the rest and poor South Sudanese are starved of funds and government attention).

This accelerated educational program is fashioned on the Kenyan emergency plan at independence that uplifted young Kenyans to the US where they underwent intensive instructions in governance and administration to prepare them to take over from the departing British colonialists. (The father of President Obama, Obama Snr, was a beneficiary of this plan).

It is therefore not surprising that tens of thousands of Dinka youth are found in towns and cities of eastern African and overseas countries pursuing various levels of education, from nursery to university. These kinds of opportunities are not available to the Equatorians.

At the same time, schemes have been devised for ordinary Dinka to access plundered government money through bogus entrepreneurial companies to empower them economically. The infamous Dura grain scandal is one of the schemes. Other South Sudanese do not benefit from such unjustified favor.

The planners in the JCE further realized that for their plan to produce the desired outcomes there has to be a state of political confusion in the country for at least a generation (25 years). The state of confusion is provided for by the massive and unprecedented level of corruption and the equally massive displacement of South Sudanese through war, assassinations, rape and disappearances.

This tumult in the country affords a free and corrupt access to government money for the Dinka elite and their people and secondly, it delays and holds down any form of development in Equatoria so that, in the estimation of the JCE, the Dinka population can catch up or surpass the Equatorians.

At that future stage, the fundamental tenet, that of ethnic domination in South Sudan as espoused by the JCE ideology, will then be readily achieved.

The membership of JCE comprises of highly educated people, including strategists, diplomats and operators with keen knowledge of the working of governments in the White Hall, the White House, and the UN system. So far they have deftly and successfully managed to conceal this insidious and dangerous ideology from the gaze of the international community to evade a deserved opprobrium.

This Nazi-type of social engineering has no place in the present world, and if left unchecked, will have a devastating effect on the cohesion of the people of South Sudan.

The Chairman of JCE, Ambrose Riiny Thiik, is a well-educated man and a former Chief Justice, who also has lived in a modern and liberal country, the UK. Yet, he is at the apex of a Neo-Nazi organization orchestrating the killing and ethnic cleansing of his fellow citizens in South Sudan.

The US government sanctions committee should investigate him thoroughly with the aim of sanctioning him as a deterrent to his other equally dangerous confederates. Rumors have it that he is a landlord to the US Mission to South Sudan. If proven, this could provide a pressure point through which his divisive action can be curtailed.

His son is said to be a minister in the country’s ministry of finance and is said to be the man behind the recent hiking of the registration fee for international NGOs; the hike is a sinister move to frustrate the delivery of services to the famished and dying South Sudanese.

We look forward to the next list of individuals for sanctions that we hope will include the Chairman of JCE.

Samuel Atabi is a concerned South Sudanese and can be reached at samuel atabi@gmail.com

The South Sudan War and Why Vice-president Taban Deng Gai Should be Arrested Upon Arrival in New York

BY: Abu Deng, SEPT/20/2017, SSN;

The reason for no Peace in South Sudan, millions displaced/starving – And why Taban Deng Gai should be arrested upon his Arrival in New York.

While millions of South Sudanese starve, the Juba elite and their regional and global friends (Enablers) are making millions – such as the so-called humanitarian Republic of Uganda who shelters one million South Sudanese refugees (though it has provided significant military support, troops, equipment to the war) while it exports gold worth $200 million and now has built a gold refinery.

Where is this Gold coming from, their neighbor South Sudan, where several nations involved in bringing peace there, such as USA (pre-Trump, the Kerry Era) Uganda, China and South Africa have firms mining Gold, Diamonds, Uranium, Silver, precious gems, Cobalt, Aluminum, Iron, Nickel and Zinc (The imposed General Taban Deng Gai was the Minister of Mining for those recent contracts.

Uganda opened its first national gold refinery in Entebbe during February 2017 to process raw gold from South Sudan and the DRC (processing over 1.5 tons monthly) – though it has no commercial mines. Its gold exports went from 0 to $200 million in 2016, thanks to South Sudan and its conflict.

At the center of this war-for-profit effort are key co-plotters General Taban Deng Gai and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, former senior cadre of the SPLM-IO of the Dr. Riek Machar who decided to eliminate him and take over control of the opposition party. General Taban Gai was made Minister of Mining and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth was made Chief of Staff of Dr. Machar’s office (these assignments both men disliked greatly).

Once Dr. Machar was run out of the country in July 2016, these two: Gai/Lol, engineered a violent takeover of the SPLM-IO party in cooperation with President Salva Kiir that consisted of monetary/position inducements (presidential appointments); threats or blackmail via rape/non-consensual sex filmed for political leverage against key Opposition leaders.

Question: How Rampant is General Taban Deng Gai’s penchant for using rape of Men and Women as a Weapon of War and for Political Maneuvering/Opposition suppression?

With full control of key Opposition leaders and cooperation with the Kiir regime, General Taban Gai helped formed so-called transitional government of national – albeit its focus was not development and stablising the economy, which has steadily been declining since the government’s formation, including exorbitant currency rates, dollar shortages, high prices as well as lack of healthcare, education, security and basic food items.

Mr. Invisible: General Taban Deng Gai –
My sources tell me General Taban Deng Gai initiated a legal case in Dubai, UAE. He sued the sons of a deceased business partner to retrieve tens of millions of dollars (the court ruling issued this year is unknown, but I have been told it did not go in his favor) – though I normally do not like to speculate as a rule, the original source of this information is Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth in this case, Taban Gai’s trusted number two. So where did these millions come from originally?

Given the openness of Dubai, I am sure naysayers can investigate this quite easily – but my point is that Mr Taban Deng Gai has been one of those “invisible” people silently getting rich off of the nation’s woes and these wars, while the majority of citizens suffer. One area I would like investigators to review is whether Mr. Gai while a Governor embezzled some of the oil money designated to Unity State, which receives 2 percent of oil revenue, over $10 million monthly as one of the oil-producing states.

Now he has hornswoggled the VP position, which can reap him power, money and maybe the acutely desired respect he has long sought given he has been disliked in his home state and the capital Juba for a long time, which is why he uses money to “make friends” and buy influence. Given the recent US Treasury announcement, targeting those involved in obstructing Peace or benefiting from this war . . . meaning, Taban Deng Gai and Ezekial Lol Gatkuoth . . . They should be prime suspects/candidates for sanctions as well as listed as war criminals for their central role in atrocities post-July 2016 in South Sudan.

Biography of General Taban Deng Gai
Who is Taban Deng Gai? He was born to a mother from Unity State and a father from northern Sudan — the Shaigiya tribe. Mr. Taban Deng Gai is married with children. He is an astute politician and soldier; he was a key aide of Dr. John Garang and later Dr. Riek Machar. He is well-known to be an ruthlessly ambitious man who hates to lose and is capable of doing anything to win.
_ _ _`

A poignant example is the historic 2010 election in which Ms. Teny lost, two civilians were killed, he kidnapped and held as hostages the country Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and the gubernatorial candidate who had won the race according to international observers (that winner was Madame Angela Jany Teny — Dr. Machar’s wife). Ms. Teny had her car shot at during the campaign and their house was surrounded by tanks and soldiers courtesy of General Gai and President Kiir. The Vice President and Ms. Teny escaped and that same day General Taban Gai was declared Governor of Unity state though votes in his favour were minimal (Mr. Gai himself has acknowledged he lost 7 of 9 counties then).

The most damning evidence should come from the recent Opposition party mutiny and near assassination of President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar at J1 (the Presidential Palace) on 8 July 2016. The ensuing war saw First Vice President Machar and Madame Teny “escape again”, by foot to the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the razing of the SPLM-IO Opposition area called Site I (the VP’s residence) as well as hunting down their officials and advisors (local and foreign).

Post-analysis and reports of the J1 incident show key plotters of J1 were former Chief of Staff Paul Malong; General Taban Gai; Akol Koor Kuc (head of National Intelligence) and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.

The goal is said to have been to install General Paul Malong as President and Taban Gai as First Vice President; and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth as the Petroleum Minister with the “former” leaders Kiir/Machar expected to be killed in the crossfire — which did not happen, complicating the ascension plan of General Taban, who was not particularly trusted by General Paul Malong since he betrayed his long-time leader and friend, Dr. Riek Machar.

Mr. Gai’s ambition and ruthlessness are legendary so not many trust him, for he uses people until he has no need. Many SPLM-IOs of Dr. Machar, post July 2016, have reported they were given a simple choice: serve me (meaning, Taban Gai) or die!

Investigations Needed into General Taban Deng Gai’s Finances
Given recent revelations of Mr. Gai’s loss of millions of dollars in Dubai, and observing the mining ministry’s activities since General Gai’s arrival there in May 2016, a serious review is needed of financial transactions of South Sudan which will likely reveal corruption/connections to General Taban Deng Gai.

A key firm to review is Sabina Ltd based in Unity State, which is partially owned by General Taban Gai and said to be his conduit for siphoning state funds out of the area. This company has been involved in many contracts in construction, roads, electricity, etc. and was the only private contractor approved by the state for several years during the reign of General Taban Deng Gai as governor.

Here are some companies and countries doing mining in South Sudan:

1. Zhonghao Exploration & Mining Company – China
2.
3. Epic Exploration Pty Ltd, West Perth – Australia
4. Equation Mining Inc., Alaska, | Blackstone for Mining Co. Ltd, Idaho – USA
5. SASS Minerals and Petroleum Pty – South Africa
6. LuckyFriends Trading and Construction Co. Ltd (Company number: 102163) – Uganda

The above list points to alternative reasons why several of these countries are/have supported the corrupt and abusive regime of President Salva Kiir: MONEY, GOLD, DIAMONDS, etc. Personal gain perhaps among officials in some of these countries: US, Uganda, South Africa?

But the violent nature of this regime should itself repel US and Europe greatly, particularly since the rape rampage in July 2016 at Terrain Hotel attributable to General Taban Gai’s violent takeover plan. Listening to the below BBC interviews of several rape victims, one sees Juba’s violent State policy against American and European persons and interests as well against it citizens. If you can stomach horrible truths, listen to these heart-wrenching stories:

Massive level of Sexual Assaults in Juba

The one area where it is clear that the government leadership under President Kiir and General Taban Deng Gai is failing miserably is security, intentionally so it seems for their weak responses/irresponsible utterances are tantamount to condoning serious human rights abuse — on a monumental scale — and giving rise to the rampant use of Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War.

Within the capital city of Juba where the government has firm control, its security forces, primarily police and soldiers, have been identified by victims as the main perpetrators of horrendous sexual assaults, gang rapes — all occurring on a massive scale against IDP women according to the UN. See the June 2016 HCT South Sudan report by UNHCR where the survey of the UN Protection of Civilians camps in Juba shows — three out of every four women have been raped. See below, from page 60:

As well, General Taban Gai’s thirst for power and money is threatening regional and even global security, actually destabilising it, for countries like Egypt and North Korea have military cooperation agreements with the Juba regime. See,

North Korea’s Kim Jong signed a deal a military cooperation with South Sudan – link

The question is why the former US administration of President Obama would support a government which the United Nations and its panel of experts have considered one of the gravest abusers of human rights in modern times.

Finally, I have tried to shine a light on a globally invisible, yet influential long-time political figure of South Sudan who I hope the West will not take serious (and avoid association with him) for the monumental blood on his hands is that of a war criminal.

Abu Deng, ig

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No Country for Civilians…..The Largest Exodus ever from war-torn South Sudan!

The sudden exodus from war-torn South Sudan is the largest Africa has seen since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

BY: Jason Patinkin, Foreign Policy.com, SEPT/31/2017, SSN;

KAJO KEJI, South Sudan — Brig. Gen. Moses Lokujo stood in the ruins of Loopo, a strategic hilltop village in South Sudan’s lush southern Equatoria region. Less than two miles to the east, telephone poles poked over a green ridge, marking the outskirts of Kajo Keji, the seat of the county of the same name, where rebels under Lokujo’s command stared down government forces across a deserted marketplace, one of dozens of front lines in a grinding, three-year civil war that no one was winning.

It was late April, about two weeks after the South Sudanese army had attacked Loopo from the southwest, blasting through two lines of rebel defenses and wreaking havoc through the village. When the government forces eventually retreated to their base along the Ugandan border, the rebels moved back in to find the place destroyed. The homes were torched, the shops looted. A rocket-propelled grenade had cratered the wall of a primary school building, leaving behind sheaves of white ash that used to be books.

The army had attacked again, flanking the rebel positions around Kajo Keji just days before I arrived, but Lokujo’s men had repulsed them under heavy fire. “This is my location,” said Lokujo, a tall, well-built ethnic Kuku armed with a quick laugh and a black 9 mm pistol strapped to his hip. “The enemies will not come out and kill our civilians.”

The reality is that in Kajo Keji, as in much of war-torn South Sudan, there aren’t many civilians left to protect. Loopo was a ghost town except for Lokujo’s troops. The rest of Kajo Keji county, once home to perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, has emptied amid a civil war that has become one of the world’s worst, with government and rebel soldiers murdering and raping civilians for their ethnicity or suspected political affiliations.

Since 2013, tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people have been killed across South Sudan, though no one is really counting. Untold more have died of starvation and disease. Around a third of the population — estimated to be up to 12 million before the war — have fled their homes.

In the last year alone, 1 million South Sudanese have flooded into Uganda, including three-quarters of Kajo Keji’s population, amid what the U.N. has described as a campaign of ethnic cleansing. It is the largest sudden exodus in Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

So Kajo Keji is now a land of soldiers. The army, largely consisting of a notorious ethnic Dinka militia called the Mathiang Anyoor, controls key border posts and towns along the road to the national capital of Juba, while the rebels roam the hilly countryside. In between are empty villages, burned huts, and silence. Dense bush overtakes abandoned fields. For three days, I traveled across the county from west to east and didn’t see another car. With a few exceptions, the only people I met were rebels.

“Bush is for guerrillas,” said Victor Moses, a rebel who joined Lokujo in February. And the guerrillas, Moses said, aren’t going anywhere. “We are ready to fight even for more than five years or 10 years or 20 years.”

Moses and the rest of Lokujo’s soldiers are part of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition, the country’s main rebel force. The IO, as it is called, was born in 2013 when the national army, called the SPLA, split following a massacre of ethnic Nuer citizens in Juba by Dinka troops loyal to President Salva Kiir.

In subsequent days, Nuer army units defected across the country’s swampy northeast and, along with Nuer youth militia, sought to avenge the deaths of their brethren in Juba. Banding together under the leadership of former Vice President Riek Machar, himself a Nuer, they massacred Dinka civilians and others, plunging the country into a cycle of violence that continues today.

Machar remains at the helm of the IO, but he has been in South Africa since December 2016, after a brief unity government fell apart and he was chased into exile. Meanwhile, mechanized government troops have routed the Nuer rebel units in the northeast, where most of the fighting occurred from 2013 to 2016. As a result, the war has shifted south to the region that snakes along the porous borders with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, making Equatorian troops a dominant group within the IO. Victor Moses is one of those troops.

Born in Kajo Keji in the 1960s, he joined the SPLA in 1987, back when it was a rebel group fighting the Arab-dominated government of then-united Sudan. That war ended in 2005, setting the stage for South Sudan’s independence in 2011. Peace was good, he said, but the abuses by Kiir’s government and his allies in the army became too great. So this year, he deserted his post in Juba, came home to Kajo Keji, and went back to war. “If the government reforms, then well and good. If it doesn’t reform, then the government will reform through fire,” he said.

The blackboard in a classroom in Kajo Keji county still shows the instructions for a social studies paper assigned before the conflict broke out.

The first night I stayed with them, the rebels camped in a cluster of primary school buildings that once accommodated some 400 students. In one classroom, guns and combat boots lined the wall beneath a blackboard that still listed instructions for some long-canceled social studies paper. The next day, during the visit to Loopo, I saw a ransacked classroom with the same instructions on the blackboard, suggesting that people fled simultaneously across the county. It was not a slow exodus but an immediate, sudden emptying. “It’s really painful,” said Scopas Peter, a local chief who stayed well behind the front lines. “If there is no education, that means you have lost the future of this place.”

In the mornings, the rebels brushed their teeth, drank tea, and gave each other haircuts. Younger soldiers played with a pet monkey that had the honorary rank of lance corporal. When they patrolled in their pickups, piled in the back with weapons bristling, the rebels sang and teased. Near a displacement camp in the west of the county, where the few remaining civilians have taken refuge, the men whistled as they passed a group of young women walking toward the Ugandan border. The women giggled and waved back. “Beyoncé,” one rebel whispered as the women disappeared out of sight, provoking much laughter from his colleagues. Another soldier, a tall ethnic Mundari with a pointed goatee, shook his head, declaring that he didn’t want a South Sudanese wife. “My first wife is Arab. The next one must be Australian or American,” he said. “It is important to mix.”

Besides Mundaris, Lokujo’s troops count ethnic Kuku, Kakwa, Bari, and a handful of Nuer soldiers who shifted south to fight in Equatoria. With the allegiance of fighters from around the country, such diversity should be the IO’s chief strength as they fight the Dinka-dominated government. But Machar has been unable to manage the mix.

Non-Nuer soldiers have defected from Machar to join other rebel leaders not affiliated with the IO, accusing him of favoring his Nuer tribespeople. In late July, west of Kajo Keji, fighting broke out between Nuer and Equatorian rebels within the IO after one of Machar’s most powerful Equatorian generals defected and joined a rival insurgency. But Lokujo’s forces have remained under Machar, launching attacks on government positions even as Equatorian and Nuer rebels battle each other just hours away.

Foot soldiers donned berets, baseball caps, floppy fisher’s hats, faux fur bucket hats, and Elmer Fudd hunting caps.

The diversity of the rebels in Kajo Keji mirrored their ragtag appearance. One officer wore a shining green police helmet, another a tiger-striped cowboy hat. Foot soldiers donned berets, baseball caps, floppy fisher’s hats, faux fur bucket hats, and Elmer Fudd hunting caps. They wore camouflage army fatigues, blue police uniforms, jeans, T-shirts, windbreakers, and winter jackets. On their feet were rubber rain boots, worn-out sneakers, and flip-flops. Some sported black leather combat boots, shined each morning by a soldier who doubled as Lokujo’s personal photographer.

Their armory was just as eclectic. They carried AK-47 and M16 assault rifles, PKM light machine guns, homemade shotguns, and Bulgarian rocket-propelled grenades. One soldier had a battered Czech submachine gun. Another wielded a flare gun built by a company in Florida. A young insurgent, looking barely 18, cradled an ancient-looking grenade with a wooden handle. Another packed a wooden bow with jagged, steel-tipped arrows in a fur-lined quiver. Unlike the government, which has purchased weapons through Uganda, the rebels have no major arms supplier. Nearly all of their kit has been stolen from the government in battle, including Lokujo’s pistol, which the general slapped on a plastic table before each meal at the abandoned primary school.

“I took it from an NSS officer I killed,” Lokujo said of his side arm, referring to the National Security Service, a government paramilitary force. Sure enough, engraved on the gun’s side were the letters NSS, right above a stamp reading, “Made in Israel.”

At night, the rebels feasted on boiled pork, taken from abandoned farms. Goats and cows were off limits unless purchased because the rebels considered them the property of the people, but pigs were plentiful and destroyed crops, so local chiefs declared them fair game for the IO. With ample food, the men boasted that conditions were better in the bush than in the government barracks, where soldiers often sit for months without pay. “They tell us that we are thieves,” a radio operator nicknamed Lima Tango said of the government forces. “And we tell them we are living better than them.”

Lima Tango had been a secondary school student in Uganda but dropped out this year after government soldiers razed his father’s fields back home in South Sudan. Without money from the farm, he couldn’t afford the school fees, so he joined the IO. Many others in Lokujo’s unit were also new to war. There were child soldiers who looked no older than 15 and criminals, too. One man had been locked up in Kajo Keji for having sex with 13-year-old girl but joined the rebels after they broke into the jail and released all the prisoners. There was one woman among the fighters, Jane, who had her own room in the school building. In the mornings, she brewed the tea before picking up her M16.

Samuel Lokujo, who is not related to the commander, was a taxi driver when the war broke out. In December 2015, he was taking passengers to Juba when gunmen ambushed his vehicle. He ran and hid in the forest. When the gunshots stopped, he ventured back to find his passengers, two women and two men, dead with their belongings looted. The men who attacked Lokujo’s car wore plain clothes, but he believes they were government troops. So later that night, he waited outside a bar in Kajo Keji where a group of Dinka soldiers were drinking. When one of them stumbled out, he shot him with a bow and arrow, took his AK-47, and fled to the bush to join the IO. He was still carrying the same rifle in April.

“They have been shooting me with this one. Now I have this one,” he said, showing off the weapon in the morning sunlight as Jane brewed tea over a nearby campfire. “They are a man. I am also now a man.”

The rebels took a mystical view of their fight. The former taxi driver Lokujo wore charms around his neck with bits of supposedly magic tree bark meant to protect him from grenades. The rebels credit forest spirits for a key victory at a place called Jokat, where they blocked the government’s advance. According to their legend, a tree fell across the road, trapping an army convoy and allowing them to kill the army soldiers and capture two vehicles and many weapons. After the battle, they claimed, the tree righted itself. They believed history was on their side, too. “Definitely we are going to win,” Brig. Gen. Lokujo said, pointing to a mountain that once served as a base for the Anyanya, a southern Sudanese rebel group that fought in the area in the 1960s. “We are following the footsteps of our forefathers.”

One person they didn’t assign mystical qualities was Machar, who has portrayed himself as the rightful leader of South Sudan according to a Nuer prophecy. Though the rebels in Kajo Keji recognized Machar as their leader, none venerated him personally, and they dismissed the idea that the IO was Machar’s personal force. They also scoffed at his sidelining in South Africa. “Even if he is no longer with us, still the war will go ahead,” Moses said. “The movement is not belonging to him. The movement is a movement of the people, and people are the ones who fought.”

But the people are also the ones bearing the brunt of the war. Dozens of civilians have been killed in Kajo Keji alone, mostly by government forces. Rebels to the east, meanwhile, have repeatedly attacked road convoys, indiscriminately firing on civilians and soldiers alike. It’s impossible to say how many IO soldiers have died in Kajo Keji. The officers insisted that they rarely lose men in battle, but they also sought to hide their wounded. In one medical clinic west of Loopo, they told us that a young man with a gunshot wound in his abdomen was a civilian. Later, he was manning a rebel checkpoint.

The only other patient in that clinic was a young boy with malaria with his parents and baby sister. The small family had earlier fled to the forest after government forces burned their village. They stayed for a month in the bush, surviving on wild fruits and leaves, before returning to their village. The clinic’s doctor, a former SPLA physician named Mike Abut Ali, said the boy had come for malaria treatment twice that week, but due to a government blockade of aid deliveries to rebel-held areas, he had only enough drugs to administer half doses each time. Ali begged for aid groups to defy the blockade and deliver medicine. “You cannot forget us. We are not animals. We are human beings, like you,” he said, cradling a rifle as the small family sat on a stoop nearby. “In the government side, you do assist there, but here you don’t assist.”

The next day, bumping along the county’s orange dirt roads in their pickups, the soldiers sang their favorite war song, vowing to bring “fire” to Kiir, the Mathiang Anyoor, and the Dinka. “Seven years! Six years!” they chanted — a prediction of how long they would fight. “Forget your wife! Forget your child!” At one point, the boisterous rebels drove past the small family we had met at the clinic.

The parents, carrying their malaria-stricken son and baby girl, were walking west toward the displacement camps and the Ugandan border. They were one more family leaving South Sudan, a land that is no country for civilians.

Jason Patinkin is a journalist covering East Africa.

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

IGAD’s High Level Revitalization Forum on South Sudan is a Hoax, Deeply Flawed & Driven by Financial Gains

BY: J. Nguen, JUL/27/2017, SSN;

The Nuer Supreme Council (NSC) would like to take this opportunity to declare that Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is no longer a credible peace broker in South Sudan, but rather, a sham and hallowed financial profiteering institution driven by IGAD’s nation States political and financial gains.

The recent IGAD)’s High Level Revitalization Forum on South Sudan is a Hoax, Deeply Flawed and Driven by Financial Gains. This is showcased by IGAD’s position on the SPLM/A-IO, the main opposition armed Movement in South Sudan.

Due to IGAD’s deeply flawed and monies driven position on the South Sudan peace, the Council demands that IGAD relinquishes its mandate on the South Sudan Peace Agreement to the African Union.

The IGAD’s approach going about with the High Level Revitalization Forum is not genuine. The Revitalization Forum is high selective, ill-conceived and we believe such a method will fail.

Thus, the Council agreed that IGAD’s approach is “exclusionary initiative” and only meant to prolong the war efforts and suffering of the people of South Sudanese, while IGAD’s member States representatives continued to get their paychecks in the name of unachievable peace.

To recap, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is an East African regional bloc, mandated by the African Union (AU) in 2013 to oversee and mediate the peace negotiation efforts on South Sudan. IGAD is supposed to be non-partisan, genuinely honest and objective in all its approaches.

IGAD came to such a prominent position when President Salva Kiir falsified a coup d’état against his own Government, and then, mass murder 20, 000 innocent Nuer civilians, which then caused the civil war. IGAD was entrusted with responsibility to bring the warring parties to the negotiation table.

Despite the murderous nature of the political problem in South Sudan, the East African’s leaders and the African Union maintained that the path to peace in South Susan be an African driven approach meaning – “Africans’ solutions to Africans’ problems”.

The intent was to deny the international community’s involvement and influences on what African’ leaders called “Africa’s state of affairs”. The international community accepted the proposal in principle to avoid false accusation of imperialism or neocolonialism intent by the West in Africa in the 21st century.

However, with this African’ driven approach, of Africans’ solutions to Africans’ problems, the problem arose on the financing. The African nation States are bankrupt and lack financial muscles to ensure ownership in the process and also to guarantee that the method is indeed for Africans, by Africans and on the African continent.

Instead, the Africa’s nation States particularly the IGAD asked for financial supports from the West, particularly the Troika (USA, United Kingdoms and Norway), EU and China to help facilitates the peace process in South Sudan.

This contradictions created a setback on the Africans’ solutions to Africans’ problems objective. In reverse, it created financial dependency. This financial dependency turned IGAD a beggar and hallowed financial profiteering institution meant to benefit no one but themselves. Today, the Council can state this with straight face that IGAD is a sham and hallowed financial profiteering institution.

With resounding confidence, the Council declared that the High Level Revitalization Forum aimed to revive peace in the South Sudan is a scum and subject to fail.

The initiative is nothing but a mockery and grossly incompatible to the 2015 failed Peace Agreement. For example, in 2015, IGAD patched a weak Peace Accord on South Sudan. IGAD did not and still not protecting any peace accord in South Sudan. Its failure in protecting the signed accord add to IGAD’s lack of sincerity and commitments. Therefore, the Council concluded that IGAD can no longer be trusted. It motivation on South Sudan peace is financially driven and not a genuine search for peace.

The weak Peace Accord broker by IGAD for South Sudan collapsed on July 8th, 2016 and IGAD failed to hold to account the violators. Instead, IGAD continued with deafening silence even though people were dying and being displaced in their thousands all-over South Sudan.

Due to the deadly nature of the war, those whose intentions was to achieve genuine peace for South Sudan called for peaceful revitalization process through political means. Sadly, IGAD’s nation States blatantly refused and claimed that the Peace Agreement was intact and being implemented.

Of late, IGAD subtly acknowledged that the peace agreement on South Sudan has collapsed and required a political revitalization process. In June 2017, IGAD tabled the High Level Revitalization Forum and subsequently followed by timeline.

The High Level Revitalization Forum aims to revitalize the collapsed Peace Agreement on South Sudan. To achieve this objective, IGAD has initially declared that the process will be inclusive. All the warring parties and other oppositions would be involves including the estranged groups. IGAD also stressed that all would be engage in a transparent processes.

The Council and the world at large were delighted and endorsed the IGAD’s initiative and change of heart without second guess that IGAD’s initiative could be a financial scum and deeply flawed. We lauded the IGAD’s nation States for such a decisive move at the eleven hour after a year of deafening silence on South Sudan.

To everyone surprise, the IGAD Executive Council, Workneh Gebeyhu of Ethiopia had this to say on July 24, 2017 in Juba, South Sudan: “revitalization forum is not a fresh negotiation or a renegotiation to implement the agreement, but rather an opportunity for all South Sudan stakeholders to return to the implementation of the peace agreement.”

First, the Council would like to reinstate that the peace in South Sudan has collapsed and there is no peace agreement to be implemented by all South Sudan stakeholders. Instead, there is a raging war in the country. In our view, the first attempt must be to stop the war before IGAD’s rubbish talks of implementation of the peace agreement that does not exists.

Second, for IGAD to say that “Dr. Machar will be allowed to send representatives to the Revitalisation forum which is due in September, but will not be allowed to attend the forum by himself” is deeply troubling and irresponsible.

With that statement, the Council believe that IGAD nation States has killed their initiative, the High Level Revitalization Forum and we think this was not accidental but IGAD’s intention in the first place. Similarly, with this position, we suspect that IGAD has secured some financial supports for the initiative which the donors have no way of reclaiming.

Third, it’s improbable to think and talk of peace in South Sudan when the SPLM/A –IO’s top leadership is excluded in the High Level Revitalization Forum. It must be noted with clarity, that the SPLM/A-IO is the main signatory to the Peace Agreement which is falsely being claim to be revitalizes and the only armed force on the ground fighting Salva Kiir’s forces in South Sudan.

Their exclusion by the IGAD in the High Level Revitalization Forum means no peace and no genuine High Level Revitalization Forum for all South Sudanese, which is what IGAD wants. Another IGAD’s intention is continued financial gains which we precisely believe to be a financial profiteering in the name of South Sudan’ peace.

Fourth, IGAD cannot call for an inclusive forum of all South Sudan stakeholders and yet denied the SPLM/A-IO’s top leadership participation in the form. This is hypocrisy and true conduct of a financial profiteering institution.

In closing, it’s fitting to say that the High Level Revitalization Forum was a hoax and meant to lure in Western Governments to fetch-in financial supports to benefit IGAD’s Nation States. The IGAD’s High Level Revitalization Forum is not genuine. It’s a sham and whose objective is to racketeer in the name of suffering people of South Sudan.

Therefore, the Council call on the African Union to take-over the South Sudan’s peace portfolio from IGAD.

The Council also call on the Western nation States, particularly the Troika, EU and other International body to defund the High Level Revitalization Forum under IGAD.

The Council asked the Troika, EU and other International body to only fund genuine and inclusive initiative whose goal is to bring lasting peace to South Sudan under African Union.

The Nuer Supreme Council is an independent think tank, whose objective is to advance peace, research and bottom-up development in the rural South Sudan. The Council is also an advocate for fair treatment and equal representation of all South Sudanese in the South Sudan state of affairs.

J. Nguen
Chairman of the Nuer Supreme Council
Email; jamesnguen@gmail.com

Festus Mogae’s Moral Dilemma: Why he’d quit and go home

BY: Dr. Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, JUL/17/2017, SSN;

Bringing peace to a war-torn country is the pinnacle of political achievement that any politician would love to be associated with. It’s not in any way less important than the attainment of independence.

In fact, to some extent the two are interrelated. For Ex-Presidents, like Festus Mogae, it’s an opportunity for adding good things to their reputations and expanding their legacies from national to international and perhaps from continental to worldwide recognition.

It’s also a golden chance to keep them busy in their retirement and relative inactivity. It’s often difficult to adapt from having a high demanding job to a state of more or less redundancy.

Perhaps this is why Ex-Presidents occupy their time by establishing libraries, going around delivering speeches and lectures, running charity organisations, taking up consultancy jobs and getting involved in peace initiatives across the globe.

I would like to think that, when an Ex-President or an Ex-International official, is given the honour of helping to realise peace anywhere in the world – he or she, would be in the best possible position that any politician would like to have. It’s because of the following reasons:

Firstly – he or she is deemed a neutral figure, thus is not under any political pressure other than the need to expedite the peace process within the adopted time frame. And certainly, he or she is under no obligation to give in to pressure from any side or heed the demands of the lobbying groups.

Secondly – he or she is also free from the self-restrictions and hidden obligations of the career politicians who would do anything to keep their jobs.

Thirdly – Such personalities usually enjoy generous pensions and do have significant life insurances. They do not need the financial gains from their given positions, and to some, what is offered amounts to peanuts.

Hence, one would have expected Mogae to act with full impartiality, diligence and straightforwardness. Most importantly, people had hoped that he would call a spade a spade particularly in the case of peace spoilers.

We must remember that we have already lost tens of thousands of lives and still more lives are at stake due to the escalating war. There is no room for appeasements or half-solutions because they would not result in a lasting peace in a country that’s already on the brink.

Mogae’s recent statement to the 18th JMEC Plenary on 12/07/2017 raised many questions and evoked a lot of concerns. The general theme is overblown unsubstantiated progress regarding the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the downplaying of glaring failures.

For example, he claimed that good progress had been made by the National Constitutional Amendment Commission (NCAC) towards review and amendment of relevant legislation.

Do we call it a real progress, given the fact that it took over a couple of years to happen?

The provisions of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) state that the NCAC should come up with the appropriate Constitutional Amendments before the commencement of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

It transpires that the unrecognised current TGoNU has got no Constitution. Then, where is the progress here?!

The JMEC boss admits that the graduation of the first batch of the joint integrated Police took place without adherence to the required vetting process. It’s certainly a major concern given the current environment of mistrust between the parties.

The question is, what did Mogae do to rectify the situation and avert a potential source of conflict?

His talk regarding the economy is merely for public consumption. It’s very unconvincing to speak about government institutions and public finances reforms when the layperson in South Sudan knows that the economy has tanked and corruption is on a large scale.

It’s even less believable that, the TGoNU has a 3-5 years national development strategy while unable to pay the wages of its employees for months. People have even started to entertain the idea of the government of South Sudan declaring bankruptcy.

The Hybrid Court of South Sudan (HCSS) which is supposed to be an independent entity, is now to be discussed with the “TGoNU.” So, how credible that accountability would be well-served through such a court?!

Lack of real achievements has reduced the JMEC boss into talking about and highlighting some insignificant events. For example, he pointed out the sensitization and awareness missions that were conducted by the Technical Consultative Committee for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH).

If he admits that the conditions for successful consultations are far from optimal, then what is the point of bringing the whole issue up?

Furthermore, there is no mention of the security arrangements and cantonment in the document. Everyone agrees that this single matter takes precedence over the other provisions in the Peace Agreement for obvious reasons. So, how could the JMEC boss talk about the CTRH while omitting the security arrangements that have a direct bearing on the reconciliatory process? It implies that the implementation of the security mechanisms and cantonment hasn’t moved forward in a meaningful way to allow the JMEC boss to talk about it.

Surprisingly, Mogae turns 180 degrees saying he is concerned that the permanent Constitution-making process is yet to commence and that they are clearly out of time. It sounds like he has inadvertently admitted failure to effect the full implementation of ARCSS in spirit and letter.

Now it seems the embattled JMEC boss is putting all his hopes for being relevant on the High-Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF) that was prescribed by the IGAD leaders following his recommendations. If the JMEC could not effect a meaningful progress over a period of 2 years, how plausible that it would be successful this time?

Mogae has made it clear that the HLRF is not for renegotiation. Then, what would be the role of the so-called estranged groups in the forum? And how could the forum be inclusive and accommodative without taking the views of all the stakeholders into account?

A scrutiny of the measures suggested by JMEC boss reveals that what he is pushing for is point number (3) which is the development of a revised and realistic timeline and implementation of a schedule towards democratic elections at the end of the transition period.

Now they have realised that the clock is ticking and the moment of truth is drawing closer which is the end of the TGoNU next year as specified by ARCSS. So, is he pushing for preparation for elections without the recognised TGoNU ever being formed? Or that he wants the extension of its tenure before it even started?

The reality is that ARCSS is dead. There is no path to a lasting peace emanating from what Mogae and the JMEC would want us to believe.

It’s sad that the JMEC boss continues to issue statements like the following one, I quote: “The Peace Agreement is still alive but has been wounded, the revitalization forum formed by the IGAD heads of states on the 12th of June 2017 in Addis Ababa is set to get the Agreement back on track.” The audience could see how he contradicted himself in a single statement.

There are similarities between the tragedy in Syria and the one happening in South Sudan. Coincidentally, the situation facing Mogae is akin to what Ex- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan went through when he was the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for the Syrian Crisis. It only took Kofi Annan 5 months to tender his resignation on the 02/08/2012.

The following is an excerpt from his resignation letter, “My concern from the start has been the welfare of the Syrian people. Syria can be saved from the calamity – if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people.”

What Kofi Annan did compels everyone to bow to him in full respect. It re-inforces what I always believed that politics is not all about Machiavellianism and material gains, but there is a moral obligation tied to it.

Festus Mogae is, of course, free to follow his conscience but at this juncture, a real friend would advise him to go home right now. His presence is sending the wrong message that a peace process is underway while in reality, nothing of that sort exists. His departure would pave the way for genuine endeavours to find a solution to the crisis in our beloved country.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

Not Yet Happy Independence of South Sudan

By: James Okuk, PhD. JUBA,JUL/10/2017, SSN;

July 09th every year marks a significant Day for Declaration of Independence of an additional country in the world that made the 193rd UN full member and 54th AU recognized brother/sister.

The first launching occasion in 2011 was jubilantly a thrilling event to the admiration by all, South Sudanese and foreigners alike, as they sang the dignified sacrifices of past liberation struggle as well as the expected future glory from hopes in dividends of “the land of great abundance” united in peace and harmony.

The following first and second anniversaries of such a rare Great Day in 2012 and 2013 were still euphoria despite the economic austerity measures that resulted from oil production shut-down by Juba due to bad politics with Khartoum, the conduit of its crude piping and marketing to international outreach.

The strength of the South Sudanese Pound was still competitive and attractive for business and purchasing power of the active citizens. The Bank of South Sudan was capable to have amounts of hard currency reserves from oil business incomes and remittances from donor countries and other foreign friends/partners.

Daily lives of the people was basically dignified and without serious political, economic and social hardships. Many of them ventured into successful micro-economic functions and they were happy.

Alas! The bad regrettable times for South Sudanese got launched by the destructive conflict of the SPLM/A leaders and their supporters in December 2013. From then, neither the Christmases, the New Years, nor the Independence Anniversaries (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) were meaningful to the majority of South Sudanese whose livelihoods got disrupted by ‘un-conscientious’ politics and abhorrent bad economy of the antagonistic selfish civil war.

Instead of leading their people wisely with collective enjoyments of the hard-won and deserved blessings of “land of great abundance” built firmly on sustainable peace foundation of its Eagle Vows (of Liberty, Justice and Prosperity), the power greed of South Sudanese leaders relapsed the country into a despairing and disgusting “land of great abandoned” disintegrated by massive displacement and unprecedented refuge of the population in the neighbouring countries.

The worst is for the government in Juba to abandon all-together the official celebration of the very national independence that gave it the power it has now.

Put under critical prism in regards to provision of basic life amenities and upholding of human rights, South Sudan can almost now be called “Republic of NGOs” surviving on mercy of foreign humanitarian sympathy and moral obligations of the natural law (enforced by human conscience).

Whoever is persistently proud in leading or wanting to lead such an abandoned powerless embattled country, must be a beast or a Lucifer who thrives on blood and suffering.

According to modern political definition a viable state is nothing much if not the integration of legitimate and sovereign land, people, government and international relations.

Evaluating keenly the 6th Anniversary of the Republic of South Sudan, we can evidently see the biggest challenge of abandoned land (surface, underneath and sky) with no utilitarianism.

We have also witnessed the conduct of government and opposition that have failed to protect the civilian population from grave bad news, and consequently the alarming displacement and refugees exodus.

Weakening/Isolating international relations and criticism has put South Sudan into top list of undesirable countries against good governance and sustainable development indices/perceptions.

Though famine has subsided for a short respite imposed by the natural grace of the rains season, yet hunger is still a hanging stick on many households, mainly due to man-made insecurity from havoc on population by the “gun-class” who are currently leading the monopoly of violence. The Responsibility-to-Protect is seen nowhere.

This abhorrent irrational civil war situation, if allowed to continue for some more bad times ahead, could become the un-making of the Republic of South Sudan. It adds to the evidence of Daron Acemoglu’s and James A. Robertson’s 2012 Book ‘Why Nations Fail’ when they fail from establishing institutions that keep the fundamentals of the origins of power and prosperity, and when they are incapable of addressing the recurrent abject poverty of their citizens.

It also validates freshly the facts/values of Peter H. Schuck’s 2014 Book ‘Why Government Fails So Often’ when it operates without realistic people-centred goals; worst acting ineffectively on morally hazardous policies, domestic and foreign.

The hot case in point as we officially un-celebrated the independence anniversary is the push by some heartless decision-makers in economic sector to lift the subsidy on the strategic fuel prices. Their flawed superficial argument is that South Sudan has become the fuel cheapest country in the region and the world at large.

But have these uncaring elites asked themselves the core question: What is the current price of an ordinary South Sudanese, especially those hired by the government, compared to that of the people of the region and the world?

As the real economy is supposed to be centred on the people (not mere marketing competition of commodities values of pricing calculus), especially the ordinary citizens, the answer to this question should form any prudent decision on the current fuel subsidy.

By the way, maintaining the fuel subsidy is the good thing so far the current government of South Sudan in Juba has done to the remaining resilient citizens living patiently in its controlled territory. Hence, removing fuel subsidy shouldn’t be attempted at all before the current poverty of our people is addressed first so that their normal purchasing power is back as it used to be.

South Sudan has been living under abnormal hardships of war and no culture of peace. It can’t afford any experimental comfort-zoning and theorising of elites on free-market economy. A war-torn country needs controlled and planned economy that supports the welfare of its suffering ordinary people.

Lifting fuel subsidy could become the final straw that will break the remaining camel back, perhaps, as it may spike “Fuel Revolution” akin to historic French “Bread Revolution”. Also blaming climate change for our current economic woes is misplaced argument.

The uncaring rich government’s top officials who spent millions of dollars on trips abroad should become sensitive to plight of deprived common citizens, the inevitable power house of South Sudan.

Despite the disappointments with current status of keeping the Republic, it is not yet too late to build a South Sudan that can last but with avoidance of “grand political corruption” from the behaviour/conduct of “our turn to eat”.

The political coalition and patronages who have captured the state or struggling to do so should reverse their gears and re-drive to the current IGAD’s and Partners’ move to revitalise fully the 2015 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement (ARCSS). END

Daniel Awet lets the cat out of the bag: Jieng cattle-camp mentality

BY: Prof. Peter Adwok NYABA, Ph.D., JUL/02/2017, SSN;

It isn’t possible that people who’ve been struggling together against a common enemy for nearly six decades could turn in the end against themselves as if nothing strategic bounded them. Many people in the civilized world find it difficult to comprehend South Sudanese leaders’ attitude towards their country and people.

South Sudan has been at war since 2013 in which more than half a million people perished; four to five million South Sudanese dislocated from their natural habitat and are living in the forests, swamps, in UNMISS Protection of Civilians Camps or in Refugee Camps in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and the DR Congo.

Famine and diseases like cholera and malaria are taking their toll on the people in towns and villages. Internecine fighting over grazing and cattle rusting still claim lives in the erstwhile peaceful Dinka territories.

In its current social, economic and political configuration, South Sudan depicts a complete breakdown of state and a recoil to what the world was in the Stone Age era.

Not that many of us did not know the consequences of this Jieng parochial vanity, but we had hoped the logic and imperatives of constructing a state in modern times would impel prudence on the part of these Jieng chauvinists to prevent backward drift towards savagery.

In a talk to the so-called ‘lost boys’ on 9 June 2017 in Syracuse, NY, transcribed and posted on the Facebook, Hon. Daniel Awet Akot, in his usual ingenious honesty, let the cat out of the bag.

On piecing together the threads of Awet’s clumsy presentation, it was possible to decipher and explain South Sudan’s current predicament.

Mr. Daniel Awet Akot was a subsidiarity to the SPLM/SPLA Politico-Military High Command. In his own words, he is one of the six surviving members of that defunct body, which adamantly shunt ideological orientation and political education to raise the social awareness and political consciousness of the SPLM/SPLA cadres, combatants as well as the masses of our people during the war of national liberation.

He is a member of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) and advisor to President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Therefore, Daniel Awet was acting in that capacity to convey official policy to the Dinka Diaspora.

The JCE comprising the Jieng political, military and business elite is the driver of Jieng ethnic nationalism and its ideology of hegemony and domination, which is an important driver of the raging civil war.

Daniel Awet’s talk to Dinka audience in the USA could not have come at an opportune time and therefore warrant serious attention and response.

Most of his talk impinged on policy issues aimed at engineering a false reality that only the Dinka fought for the independence of South Sudan. That all the nationalities in South Sudan, including our regional supporters, contributed in one way or the other for the independence of South Sudan goes without saying. It is therefore unjustifiable to continue to hammer this falsehood.

The message Mr. Daniel Awet delivered was not in any manner a revelation. The people of South Sudan including some Dinka compatriots have painfully been enduring the atavistic behaviour of the JCE only to enable the people of South Sudan to exercise the right to self-determination and achieve sovereignty.

The dull chauvinists fail to grasp the reality that constructing Jieng ethnic state, tantamount to imposing a primitive ‘mode of production’ and archaic ‘relations of production’ on the people of South Sudan, is not only moribund but will also inflict immense suffering to the people.

The politics of exclusion, discrimination and marginalization led to dismemberment of the Sudan

The JCE, rather than the SPLM, constructed a system of governance akin to the cattle camp governance in accordance with the rule of the thumb.

The cumulative effects of this governance system, whereby Jieng community leaders occupy senior positions in the executive, legislative and judicial organs of the political establishment, which outwardly occur as tribalism, nepotism, corruption, inefficiency, incompetence, impunity, insecurity and finally the civil war, have plunged South Sudan into the abyss.

This is not a system Mr. Daniel Awet or any sensible individual would advocate for in a place like New York.

The Jieng social system or mode of production – pastoralism – upon which the JCE would want to model South Sudan state, lies at the lowest level of human socio-economic and cultural development. It would constitute a serious contradiction in the age of science and technology.

As an acephalous society, the Jieng are in a state of perpetual segmentation and therefore never evolved a tradition of indigenous statehood or centralized authority.

Therefore, the attempt to impose Jieng hegemony and domination by physical force will historically parallel the destruction of the Roman Empire by the primitive tribes of Northern Europe and Scandinavia sometimes in the medieval ages.

One aspect Daniel Awet admittedly attributes to Jieng model of governance is the corruption in the government of South Sudan since its inception in 2005. No government would tolerate the theft of a staggering figure of US$25 billion.

However, that nobody has been taken to the courts of law means that this theft came in the context of Salva Kiir’s project of economic empowerment of Jieng individuals and businesses christened ‘payback time’.

The ‘dura saga’, the ‘Letters of Credit saga’, the ‘crisis management committee saga’, the ‘Nile Pet saga’ and the ‘theft in the Office of the President saga’ all link to Jieng individuals and businesses.

The JCE undertook this enterprise to achieve Jieng politico-economic hegemony and domination by combining the control of political and economic power.

The JCE leadership of South Sudan produced a totalitarian dictatorship, whereby President Salva Kiir governs by decrees.

Unlike some benevolent totalitarian regimes that generated socio-economic development, JCE totalitarianism triggered civil war, massive impoverishment of the people of South Sudan and the bankruptcy of the state.

The reason is simple; being a backward class, in terms of primitive mode of production, they did not plough into productive enterprises the billions of dollars they stole; instead stashed it in foreign lands in the form of real estate, cash in banks, luxuries cars or froze this money in form of cattle. The huge herds of cattle in Equatoria is contributing to ecological degradation and environmental pollution.

The kinship nature of the JCE modality of state in respect of those opposed sprouts in Daniel Awet’s diatribe reflecting a conversation with Mama Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior. His question, “are you now ‘Maan baai’ or ‘Man baai’, transliterating to whether Madam Rebecca de Mabior is a ‘mother’ or ‘enemy’ of the Jieng nation’.

This thinking encapsulated a social psychology – herd mentality, typical of kinship mode and relations of production that equates dissent with treachery.

This explains why many Jieng intellectuals opposed to the JCE will never speak out against it openly lest they suffer social boycott.

I hope my Padang Dinka compatriots will rubbish off Mr. Daniel Awet’s falsified knowledge of Chollo (Shilluk) history.

His reference to the so-called national dialogue (ND), ostensibly as the forum where the Jieng would raise issues with others, speaks volumes.

Like the Establishment Order 36/2015, with which the JCE torpedoed the agreement on resolution of conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), I believe the so-called ND will be another JCE ploy to coerce the other South Sudan sixty-three nationalities into accepting Jieng hegemony and domination.

It is likely that the anticipated recommendations would translate into Jieng communities and their cattle herds unlimited access to land in Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal, which underpins the current land grabbing and dispossession of communities of their ancestral lands inherent in redrawing of boundaries as per Establishment Order 36/2015.

Mr. Daniel Awet went at some of the SPLM Leaders former political detainees speaking of them disparagingly smacks of unveiled deep-seated jealousy. His pinch at Dr. Lam Akol and Dr, Riek Machar describing them as “two nyagats”; was uncouth as it was a hit quite below the belt.

Speaking of SPLM reunification, and the Arusha Agreement between the three factions [IG, IO and FPDs], signed on 21 January 2015, nothing could be more insincere.

First, the formation of the JCE consigned the SPLM to the dustbin of history, which was its raison d’être. The idea of forming ethnic caucuses in the executive and legislative organs of the government as well as ethnic and regional associations and unions in the schools and universities was to undercut the SPLM and render it dysfunctional.

The SPLM reunification, now the Entebbe process, is something different. Its contours run around certain individuals among the FPDs, which links to Salva Kiir’s quip, “what I will regret till my death bed is that I did not kill the former political detainees”. The task of the process technical advisor is to ensnare to Juba the FPDs such that Salva Kiir may have a chance on them. They should watch out.

Having discoursed Awet having let the cat out of the bag, I want to pause and ask ourselves whether the desire to erect a Jieng ethnic state in South Sudan is worth the suffering, sacrifices, tribulations and the agony the people of South Sudan are experiencing daily and a possible dismemberment of the country?

Author
Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba

Response to Religious Leaders’ call for inclusive National Dialogue to end S. Sudan war: “You’re a brood of vipers”

BY: Rev Daniel Amum Odwel, South Sudan, MAY/23/2017, SSN;

First and foremost, the call for genuine inclusive dialogue is welcome by all, if it is initiated by a neutral patron who is not part of ongoing atrocities in South Sudan. Honestly, the religious leaders seem to support ‘national dialogue’ of Kiir and his inner circle groups blindly.

The public these days is too disappointed with contrary words uttered by the Bishop Isaac Dhieu who said “he denounced the voices that advocate war and glorify violence in the name of reforms.”

Those words were preached by the government against opposition, so when people heard those words in the month of Bishop Isaac, immediately they concluded that Bishop Isaac and his colleagues are agents of government in clerical robes.

Critically, Bishop Isaac and his colleagues were not authentic and genuine in their remarks. It is much easier to notice that they were supporting one side of the coin…that is the government.

Did they want to convince the public that violence is only caused by reform forces? In case the answer is yes, they must illustrate to the public that the massacre that took place in Wau town was committed by those for reforms?

Were the atrocities in the whole Equatoria regions committed by them? The exodus that’s taking place in Upper Nile at the moment, was it caused by reforms as you proclaim in your remarks?

Bishop Isaac and his colleagues, now you look odd in sight of the nation, for they see you as hardline supporters of Salva Kiir.

The Church must stand on its ground without wavering under worldly pressure, look at how John the Baptist was able to challenge the criminal leaders of his times by telling them that they are ‘a brood of vipers’ (Luke.3:7).

The true Church leaders should uphold the right things, and should never be conforming to the world but should be the transformers of the world into harmony and tranquility, peace and justice. Indeed, any church leaders who support a criminal entity, whether the government or opposition, are also criminals.

People thought that your position should have been to advise Salva Kiir, that he shouldn’t be the patron of the National Dialogue and also to plead with him that this dialogue can’t take place at this moment because the true owners of the dialogue, the communities in South, are on the run for their safety.

Look, Salva Kiir calls it inclusive but contrarily, he stresses that he doesn’t want Dr. Riak Machar to take part in this so-called national dialogue. To me it is not a national dialogue but party dialogue that has nothing to do with national issues.

Here, let me point out another loose, vague and compromised statement, that the church leaders, who support the government cited: “The country’s political leaders (should) use the national dialogue as the opportunity to resolve the differences and call on religious leaders to persevere in their role as educators, by preaching love and brotherhood within families, communities and places of worship”.

Who are the religious leaders you are indicating here? Your provocative statement betrayed the church and implied that you are government agents and appointed propaganda, and not God’s appointed leaders.

Ironically, any agent of the government or IO in clerical robes can’t play the role of educators or proclaim the gospel of love in the communities because they will only uphold the message of their party.

When they stand before the congregation, people will recall tragedies committed by their party on the communities, and people instantly become skeptical and suspicious.

Indeed, could such agent of government or IO in clerical rob reconcile such communities? I real doubt it; will the agents of the government be ready to admit offences and holocaust committed by their party against targeted communities?

The fact is, will church leaders who are supporters of the government, have courage enough to tell the members of their party to leave grabbing of land, the invaders to leave for their original land peacefully, and the raiders to give back livestock to true owners and the kidnappers of kids to give children back to the real parents?

Moreover, will the church leaders who support the government be able to encourage their party to come up openly to apologize nationwide and ask for forgiveness?

In case the church leaders, who are part of the system, failed to ensure what are mentioned above, then they shouldn’t speak about national dialogue or reconciliation. For it is hard for targeted communities in South Sudan to believe what had been initiated by killers.

In relate to extermination that was committed by warring parties in Bor, Bentiu and Malakal, Waw and Equatorial regions, what was the position of so-called Church leaders, the agents of doom in that regard?

Are the agents of the government in clerical robes ready to come out publicly to admit their deadly mistakes and accept their responsibilities? If not, it will be difficult to accomplish national dialogue.

The reconciliation at this moment is quite difficult to be attained because atrocities are fresh, vivid and obnoxious in the minds of people, for they are still mourning for loved or missing ones in the family.

In South Sudan, it is too hard to easily achieve the reconciliation in traditional societies where the idea of forgiveness is obscure and revenge is the only thing they know.

We know the ministry of reconciliation is God’s ministry that He entrusted to His appointed ministers, in order to maintain peace, harmony and tranquility among his creatures. For sure it can’t be accomplished by agents of government within the church.

Christ has given himself to die on the Cross as ransom to reconcile the world to God the Father. The question that poses itself is, will Kiir and Riak be ready to step down from their positions as ransom for reconciliation?

Reconciliation is God’s motto, this is why Christ reconciled us to God and gave the ministry of reconciliation to God’s agent that is the church, but not to church leaders who support criminal institutions that killed their own people.

Indeed, the church leaders, who are agents of government or IO couldn’t be peacemakers, peace builders or reconciliators because they are part of evil-doers.

Tell me, can a pastor that supports warring parties preach about reconciliation in communities murdered by their party members and be welcomed? The answer is big no.

Jesus Christ rendered his life for the sake of humanity, but tribal church leaders in South Sudan are part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. In most cases they politicized everything to pass as tribal agendas.

To champion the reconciliation in South Sudan, the church leaders should stop being partial in their approaches to public issues.

I strongly oppose that the government of Salva Kiir in the South Sudan can’t and will not champion national dialogue or reconciliation because he is a part of holocaust. Indeed, the question of national dialogue or reconciliation must be suspended because the government and its agents within the church are not qualified to shoulder that task.

Imagine there is good slogan used in South Sudan…”One nation and one people”, but the speeches and languages uttered by those who initiated the slogan are deadly poison and will not make South Sudan to be one nation and one people.

In case the government of Salva Kiir and its agents within the church are serious to achieve the national dialogue and reconciliation, than the following giant diseases must be dealt with first:
1- Laws must be put in place to avoid segregation, nepotism, favoritism, superiority and inferiority complexes among one people;
2- People must avoid undermining the rights of minority communities and discrimination of others at the expense of not being members of a particular party, and;
3- Provision of opportunity to every individual on equal basis using educational qualifications and skill experiences.

The war in South Sudan is continuously claiming many innocent lives because the church leaders lost the right path and started to worship the government and IO and forgetting why they were called.

Let me refer you to what God said to Jeremiah: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jer.17:5, 7). END