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Human Rights and Opposing Political Opinions in South Sudan

BY: Kuir ë Garang, Poet & Author, Ph.D. Candidate, Toronto, SEPT/10/2018, SSN;

There is no question that South Sudan will take time to get used to civil societies expressing strong positions in sociopolitical issues and of strong personalities, that are not political players, to be strongly opposed to some government fundamentals.

As I’ve always reiterated, no one expects the SPLM to build Ottawa in Juba in ten or twenty years. This is a commonsense given.

Most, if not all of us, expect South Sudan to produce development results incrementally.

However, it would be foolhardy to expect South Sudan not to put in place economic and political structures that make prosperity possible. Starting structures, rudimentary maybe, should’ve been in place since 2005.

Sadly, all we’ve are rotten systemic models copied wholesale from Khartoum.

These copied governance models, such as too much powers vested in the presidency and the national security censorship of the newspapers, have shredded South Sudanese social and political fabric; that’s, what’s left by the North-South war up to 2005.

Amnesty International has argued that “Since the start of South Sudan’s internal armed conflict in December 2013, hundreds of people, mostly men, have been detained under the authority of the National Security Service (NSS) and Military Intelligence Directorate in various detention facilities across the capital city, Juba.

Many of those who’ve been detained have been held under the category of “political detainees” on allegations that they’ve communicated with or supported the opposition.”

These are usually assumptions made to scare people away from opinions that go against government narratives.

In June 2017, the Associated Pressed (AP) reported that “15 South Sudanese journalists have been arrested, beaten, jailed, threatened or denied access to information in the past four months, according to the Union of Journalists in South Sudan.

At least 20 members of the foreign press have been banned from or kicked out of South Sudan in the past six months, the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa says.”

However, there has to be a point at which we can sigh and say that ‘things are bad now but they’ll improve in due course.’

Undoubtedly, there must indeed be a point at which things should take a positive turn. For many South Sudanese, this positive turn would only come with the end of the civil war and the advent of peace.

This state of mind, for all intent and purposes, is a bad.

Waiting for the war to stop completely for things to start taking a positive turn is to do a great disservice to the country and the civil population. The civil population is already suffering like it has been for the past sixty years.

In the mid-1990s, the SPLM under the leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, under intense pressure from international aid agencies, regional bodies and internal split in 1991, and the pressure to build civil structures and democratic governance, knew that it didn’t have to wait for the war to end to start institutionalizing its administrative infrastructures.

The Civil Administration for New Sudan (CANS) was one such response. Even if CANS was still subordinated to the military Modus Operandus of the SPLA like the SPLM was, its creation is a manifest testimony that war doesn’t have to end for the turning point to be created.

As Dr. Luka Biong argued in “Social capital and civil war:” The Dinka communities in Sudan’s civil war, wars don’t necessarily destroy communities’ social capitals. While some strong social fabrics are weakened during the civil war period, social capital isn’t completely eradicated because new social relations are built.

Biong writes that “recent thinking has begun to challenge the premise that civil wars undermine social capital, arguing instead that violence is less about social breakdown than about the creation of new forms of social relations.”

Since 2005, when the autonomous government was established in Juba, and more so after 2013 crisis that led to a vicious and costly armed conflict, there has been no respect for diverse opinions and human rights in South Sudan.

The Ruling SPLM has relied on the inexcusable and the now cliched “we are still a young nation” to get away with human rights abuses and incompetence.

While countries can be considered young in terms of capacities (human and technological), no country is too young to know moral imperatives such as respect for human rights and diverse political opinions.

While Juba prides in the fact that it’s a democratic state and that it doesn’t stifle political opinions, its practical actions say otherwise.

Intolerance to opposing political opinions, political intimidations, arbitrary arrests, political assassinations and media censorship have become the ‘new normal.’

They aren’t merely the subversion of the normative systemic functions but the system itself, to use Alex De Waal’s phrase.

The recent arrest of Peter Biar Ajak on July 28, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and a very vocal personality and analyst in favor of younger leadership for South Sudan (which he dubbed ‘Generational Exit), is a clear testimony that Juba isn’t willing to take a positive turn.

Bashir Ahmed Mohamed Babiker, another South Sudanese activist, like Ajak, was also arrested on August 4 by the South Sudanese National Security in Yambio and he’s being held without any charges as his health deteriorates.

Kerbino Agok Wol, a South Sudanese businessman and philanthropist, is also being held by SSNS in Juba since April 27 without charges being brought against him.

Governments have every right to take any citizen to court if they clearly demonstrate that such a citizen has violated the constitution or committed a crime of any form.

And this is the work of South Sudanese courts and the judicial system. Charges need to be brought and proven in front of a competent judge before someone is arrested.

Sadly, the ghost of the SPLA militarized mentality is still ruling Juba. SPLM is a quasi-political party that is actually a military entity draped in a political attire.

So, when will the turning point begin?

The answer is now and e-very-day. As the peace agreement being finalized in Khartoum gives us hope for a peaceful South Sudan, it doesn’t follow that respect for human rights and diverse political opinions will come with it.

With no doubt, as it has been recently noted by some analysts, like Brian Adeba of the Washington-based Enough Project, South Sudanese agreements are usually pacts among powerful elites that don’t put the needs of the average civilian into account.

So, it’s common knowledge that the advent of the peace agreement wouldn’t guarantee respect for human rights and diverse political opinions.

It’s therefore time Juba not only speaks about the respect for human rights, but actually acts on it. Diverse opinions should be allowed as long as they’re conveyed in a respectful manner.

No country can develop — unless it’s a dictatorship — as a nation of a single opinion. Progress needs different and diverse ideas. END

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese author and poet. He’s also a PhD student at York University in Toronto, Canada. For contact, visit www.kuirthiy.com

Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed deserves applause from South Sudanese

BY: Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, South Sudanese, SEP/06/2018, SSN;

At the beginning of this month, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed was reported saying the following, I quote: “Any South Sudanese under threat in Kenya is welcome in Ethiopia to live peacefully because we are brothers. The war in your country is not your wish, and people should not laugh at you. South Sudan is a great country, and you will need it in the future. So, do not look down at them today, think of tomorrow.”

Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed’s statement came against the backdrop of the crackdown on illegal immigrants by the Kenyan police. The South Sudanese were disproportionately affected often despite having legal residence in Kenya.

The above words came from someone who knows very well what war could bring upon a country. He is indeed no stranger to the consequences of war as he was at the midst of the Ethiopian struggle.

He knows that war could reduce a country into a mediocre entity. We have seen people who owned in the past properties, farms, livestock, and money but lost everything and ended up in refugee camps.

Michael Chiangjek, the Minister of Interior, stated to the press that they received reports of ill-treatment of South Sudanese by Kenyan police during the crackdown.

He further added I quote, “In the last days, there are people arrested by Kenyan authorities including women, children and even those with terminal illnesses. We regret the way South Sudanese are treated by the Kenyan police because we are members of the East African Community and we should not treat each other this way.”

The massive operation started by Kenyan police storming South Sudanese residences in Nairobi and Nakuru at night. Those arrested were mainly students holding Australian and American passports with valid visas.

Some victims said the police demanded bribes of up to 100,000 Kshs equivalent to 1000 USDs per household. Those who didn’t have the money were hurriedly handcuffed and taken into custody.

Some of the victims accused the Kenyan police of harassment, brutality, and torture. A pregnant woman was reported to be amongst those beaten in a household in Nakuru.

Many South Sudanese were shocked by how the Kenyan police treated their countrymen. They thought a special relation between Kenya and South Sudan does exist which precludes such inhumane treatment.

South Sudan hosts over 750,000 Kenyans working mainly with the UN agencies, government, and the private sector. A significant number of them lack valid work permits. To avoid repeating my words, I am going to quote what I wrote in an article under the title “Making sense out of the unprecedented politics in the Republic of South Sudan on 06/08/2017.”

“Some Kenyans were given influential government positions like Dr Renish Achieng Omullo. She was appointed as Special Envoy to the Federal Republic of Germany by a Presidential Decree. While some highly qualified South Sudanese were denied positions for the ridiculous reason of being overqualified, a foreigner gets employed in a sensitive post in a country that does not lack qualified persons.”

It’s in stark contrast to the presence of South Sudanese on Kenyan soil. Apart from those in the refugee camps, the overwhelming majority of the South Sudanese residing in Kenya are students while others are seeking medical treatment on their expenses. Few South Sudanese, if any at all are in Kenya to find employment.

They are contributing positively into the Kenyan economy through house rents, legal acquisition of properties, bank deposits, tuition fees for students, and the hiring of Kenyans in some households.

Also, people in all the neighbouring countries know that despite being refugees perhaps three times in their lifetime, the South Sudanese never got engaged in unhonourable behaviours akin to some refugees from other countries.

They are not known to practice thievery, prostitution, fraudulent acts, gangsterism, and terrorism.

In the relatively good days, while being part of Sudan, South Sudan wholeheartedly and generously accommodated refugees from some neighbouring countries most notably, the Congolese in the mid-sixties of the past century. They were never harassed but treated as brethren in their time of need.

As a small boy, I witnessed the Congolese in Juba who went into farming, fishing and charcoal production. The locals embraced them as their brothers and sisters.

Of course, Kenya has got the right to stop illegal immigration on its soil. Any sovereign state must control its borders and fight criminal activities. We have nothing against that, but we do know that South Sudan is a member of the East African Community (EAC), that includes Kenya.

As far as the public is aware, it gives citizens of member nations equal privileges including free movement, work, and trade. The South Sudanese in Kenya wouldn’t have gone through those reported ordeals if the EAC privileges were adhered to strictly.

Even though his government’s policies were the cause of the refugee crisis, the following statement from the Minister of Interior is something for the Kenyan to ponder over – “We also want to assure our Kenyan brothers in South Sudan that they should continue with their work normally because we are one people”.

The reformist Prime Minister ascendance to the helm in April 2018 triggered a wave of swift reforms that included setting free detained politicians and journalists. He also lifted the State control over the media and hundreds of websites were unblocked. The economy was no longer run solely by the government which led to a sort of an economic boom. Ethiopia is among the fastest growing economies in the world.

But the most important step he took was to remove the detonators of the time bombs namely the stand-off with Eriteria and some other internal issues. And quickly, he embarked on dismantling them for good.

After nearly two decades of border hostilities, Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed’s plane landed at Asmera International Airport on 08/07/2018 to meet President Asaias Afwerki. The Ethiopians and Eritreans regarded it as a historic visit that paved the way for a new dawn of peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

However, his trip to Washington between 28 and 29 July 2018 did touch on some issues concerning the South Sudanese. In his meeting with the American Vice President Mike Pence, he expressed Ethiopia’s willingness to welcome the South Sudanese opposition on its soil.

He also mentioned the Ethiopian economic interests in South Sudan and referred specifically to the oil resources. It’s time for the South Sudanese politicians to think of all the available opportunities for economic cooperation and development.

The Grand Renaissance Dam is due to be completed in a few years giving Ethiopia enough power with a massive surplus. But still, Ethiopia needs oil while South Sudan requires a lot of power.

Therefore, building the proposed pipeline that runs through the Ethiopian soil would cement the cooperation between the two countries in the oil and electricity sectors for mutual benefits.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

Could the dissolving of 32 States create a problem in South Sudan?

BY: Santino Aniek, Upper New York, USA, SEPT/01/2018, SSN;

Now what is it in Khartoum Peace Agreement that most worries so many South Sudanese people? Recognizably any list in Khartoum Peace Agreement would be thought-provoking and one item that does usually come to my mind is the 32 states.

Today, much of the worry is rightfully focused on the 32 states and I might admit that there is something much more fundamental at play. However, the majority of South Sudanese people are hoping that General Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan will certainly never tremble at his promise, because the 32 States is one of his best signature achievement.

More importantly, when President Salva decided to increase states from 10 to 28 and then to 32 states, the question our South Sudanese people should ask themselves was how did we get to this point of separation among the communities?

What should South Sudanese people have done to avoid the decision by the President Salva to keep 10 states instead of 32 States and now what should they suppose to do in order to keep various communities close to each other?

You bet this will cause a huge problem in our country, even as we speak, there are few communities lobbying for more states, and if the killing of hundreds of thousand people in 2013 in Bentiu and elsewhere did not convince the opposition and their supporters, then it is hard to imagine what will.

Let me be clear in saying that President Salva’s decree on 32 states is victory for those who were advocating federalism and will never be overturned. Until South Sudanese people get serious about the structure of togetherness then those who are not happy with 32 states can talk as they desire, but at this moment in time, most communities mean to be left alone simply because they are tried of each other.

As public opinion has shown, each and all South Sudanese communities have experienced this barbaric treatment for too long and they will not accept to go back to bad old days, especially Ruweng people in Ruweng State.

We know that the human brain is by nature exclusionary, meaning if someone does not look like them, or doesn’t have the same name, then they treat him as others, and this is the reality in South Sudan in which we must accept the outcome of the decree.

We all can agree that the only communities who are refusing to recognize 32 states today are the same communities who were supporting the opposition’s 21 States proposal a few years ago. No one should be in a position to condone suffering and death, allowing such barbaric treatment like 1992 and 2013 in former Unity State, have records of oppressing other communities, and at the end of the day refusing for divorce.

For example, Ruweng people have been facing extermination in the former Unity State and I’m sure they will defend the 32 states because Ruweng people were the reason in which 28 states was created.

My point of view of the current state of these who have been crying on social media is nothing but insincerity because this decree seems to be a dream come true of “taking towns to the people.” In fact, those who are crying everyday on social media are the same people who will say privately they need their own states and they are the same people who are supporting 21 States.

More importantly, our commitment to one another versus the non-commitment to each other has shown ineffectiveness of our communities to live together.

In fact, the relationships our communities have been having all these years since 2005 did show a huge majority of South Sudanese have remained in systematic purgatory of miserable suffering and death and that was caused by ethnic violence.

As a result, the creation of 32 States has made much of a difference and now the majority of South Sudanese will be willing to defend this decree at any cost.

Furthermore, if this decree can let each and every community live in peace then there is no need for these social media, opposition and their supporters to make it a big deal because this is the same federalism people have been talking about when it was introduced some years ago.

To remind these folks, if President Salva allows 32 States to be dissolved or return to 10 states that will spark violence across South Sudan because these days we have seen on social media few communities are lobbying for more states.

I find it remarkable how little of the public debate has focused on whether dissolving the 32 states will lead to a lasting peace in that war torn country. For those who support the dissolving of 32 States, the zeal to punish is overwhelming and so it is not necessarily to consider how many South Sudanese people will die from returning to the same disarray that gave birth to 32 states and whether this brilliant idea of returning to 10 states will facilitate or obstruct efforts to make peace there.

The “line in the sand” must not be crossed because there will be consequences, no matter what.

Successively, Ruweng people have given a standing ovation for President Salva’s courageous and candid action of creating 32 states by celebrating in South Sudan, Australia, Canada, and in the U.S. and they will be the first community to reject the opposition’s suggestion.

Now we may see a similar dynamic playing out as President Slava aims to show courage once again not to allow this decree to be overturned, but uphold 32 States.

Nevertheless, my expectation is that we should be debating how best to provide humanitarian relief to the staggering number of South Sudanese people refugees who have been fleeing the war all these years instead of trying to overturn one of the best President Salva’s signature achievement.

Instead of considering how we might alleviate suffering, the social media warriors and opposition plus their supporters now want to create another crisis in a country that has suffered for too long and war is deemed the answer.

Finally, let me be clear in saying that President Salva’s decree on creating 32 states is a huge victory for the people of South Sudan, especially the people of Ruweng State because they have been longing for separation from former Unity State and this signature achievement provides a break for people who have been suffering for too long.

My last point is this; President Slava was willing to risk his political firestorm by issuing this decree and the same kind of risk that many of us wish him he will be willing to take to keep 32 states untouched.

Santino Aniek is a concerned South Sudanese live in Upstate New York, USA, can be reached at santino.aniek5@gmail.com and find me on Facebook, on Skype santino aniek, and twitter @saniek.

Federalism isn’t the cause of war in South Sudan

BY: Dr. Lako Jada Kwajok, South Sudan, AUG/19/2018, SSN;

Five days ago, Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, published an article under the title “Federalism does not deserve war in South Sudan.” The title is quite misleading and nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole world knows that the war in South Sudan was the result of a power struggle within the SPLM party between President Kiir and his deputy, the then sacked Vice President and Deputy Chairman of the SPLM party, Dr Riek Machar.

The South Sudanese people were not responsible for igniting the war, but it was imposed on them by their leaders.

The government narrative was that it was a coup d’etat orchestrated and executed by Dr Riek Machar and his followers. That narrative fell flat under scrutiny and gained the regime Four Pinocchios on The Fact Checker Rating System.

Even President Museveni, Kiir’s main ally, refuted the claim that what happened in Juba in December 2013 was a coup d’etat.

Many of us know that Riek Machar was against federalism. It’s well documented in a meeting with the Equatorians in Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba before the conflict where Riek Machar threatened the Equatorians for pursuing federalism.

He needed the support of the Equatorians in his fight against President Kiir. Hence Riek Machar resorted to a tactical move by embracing federalism and even becoming more vocal about it than the pioneers.

It’s no wonder that Riek Machar has foregone federalism at the earliest opportunity to reclaim his previous position in the government. It’s clear that federalism was never the cause of the rift within the SPLM party nor the reason that South Sudan ended up in a protracted civil war.

The government went to great lengths to suppress any debates about federalism be it in the media or among the populace. Even a media gag was imposed by the government not to engage in any activities related to federalism.

A poor man was shot dead in Maridi for voicing out his support for federalism. Such an act would have drawn condemnation from the President and members of his cabinet because it was a politically motivated act of extreme violence by members of the security organs.

The case of the unfortunate man was deliberately left to fall into oblivion with no investigation, arrests or convictions. But there were numerous cases of assassinations that went unnoticed by the media.

It was noted that around that time the activities of the unknown gunmen suddenly picked up to unprecedented levels. It was common knowledge that the unknown gunmen targeted those who were vocal in their support for federalism.

At that time, no one knew for sure the identity of the unknown gunmen. It’s only recently that General Paul Malong, the former Chief of Staff of the SPLA unveiled the identity of the unknown gunmen.

We now know that they are members of the National Security Service (NSS) under the direct orders of the President and led by General Akol Koor, the Director General of Internal Security at the NSS.

Such is the environment Roger Alfred Yoron Modi thinks is conducive for a democratic discourse on the issue of federalism with all the opposition groups in Juba. One must be blind, deaf or incredibly naive to believe what our eminent journalist is alluding to.

It’s an oversimplification or just outright dishonesty to claim that the National Salvation Front (NAS) is rejecting the agreement on the Outstanding Issues of Governance because of non-inclusion of federalism.

Likewise, it’s illogical to suggest that by doing so, NAS is opting for war. It’s turning into a familiar theme that whoever does not sign the cumbersome deal is a warmonger.

At this juncture where the future of the country is in doubt, those sincere sons and daughters of South Sudan need to tell the truth.

Where in the world that you find a government having 5 Vice Presidents?! The superpowers of the world (America, Rusia, China) all have one Vice President each.

Furthermore, South Sudan represents only a fraction of the territory and population size of those superpowers. Are we being made by our leaders into a laughing stock across the world?!

But the most critical thing concerning peace is the Security Arrangements. NAS has already appended its signature to it showing its full commitment for peace. It did sign the Cessation of Hostility Agreement (CoHA) in Addis Ababa in December 2017.

The National Salvation Front continued to honour the CoHA with no single violation recorded against it by the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM).

It’s because of an unambiguous policy that gives priority to peace. NAS could undoubtedly cause problems for the government in various ways, but its leaders are more concerned about the plight of the ordinary people of South Sudan who are yearning for a just peace.

Our journalist also brought up the issue of NAS signing the Security Arrangements but not the Outstanding Issues on Governance as a sort of inconsistency or contradiction.

Looking at previous peace talks across the world; shows that what NAS did was never a precedent but consistent with numerous past experiences.

In peace negotiations, the parties could agree on some points while disagreeing with others that could take months or even few years to resolve. The talks could be adjourned, and when they are resumed, they do not start from square one but from where they stopped in the previous peace talks.

I am sure that our journalist is aware that the government refused to sign the Declaration of Principles (DoP) in Addis Ababa in March 2018, yet the negotiations were allowed to continue.

So now the government has signed the agreement on governance because it gives it what it wants but not the DoP that was approved by NAS and the other members of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA).

So, where is the difference between the two positions? And why is the government’s position right while the one that belongs to NAS is wrong?! Are we dealing with a worthless, biased view?!

It’s important to understand that federalism is not the only reason that led NAS to reject the agreement on governance.

NAS is pursuing a holistic solution to the conflict that would put an end to the war and bring about a lasting peace. It’s untrue that NAS didn’t propose the type of federalism that suits South Sudan.

It was contained in NAS’s proposal to the pre-Forum Consultations of the High-Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF) for the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).

But to our surprise, our proposal, as well as the ones from the other opposition Movements/Parties, were ignored by the IGAD mediation team. There are good reasons to insist on the institution of federalism in the transition.

Firstly, ARCSS stipulates that the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) drafts a Constitutional Amendment bill within (21) days upon signing the agreement.

The bill shall incorporate the agreement into the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCRSS). Federalism could be incorporated into the TCRSS within that timeframe.

All are supposed to occur in the pre-transition period. All are doable and in good time.

Secondly, Federalism is a popular demand since 1947, and there’s no any convincing reason to further delay its implementation.

Thirdly, The government track-record and apparent hostility against federalism as outlined above is no comfort for leaving the matter to be addressed well into the transition.

The notion that our people need understanding and enlightenment on the various types of federalism is flawed. How many among the elites in South Sudan who know the types of federalism? Not very many.

I contend that the percentage of those who know would not be much different from the one belonging to their peers in America, India or Brazil.

According to the US Department of Education, 32 million adults (9.8%) in the US can’t read. The federal government was established in 1789, that’s 229 years ago. If the illiteracy percentage is 9.8% now, what was it over two centuries ago?!

The Americans managed to run a successful federal government and made America a superpower.

The federal government of Brazil came into being in 1889, which is 129 years ago. At that time the literacy in Brazil was 16%. It means, 84% of the Brazilians were illiterate people when federalism was introduced.

Regardless of the population size, the case of India is much closer to ours. The literacy percentages in India in 1951 and 2001 were 17.02% and 21.59% respectively. Our current literacy percentage is 27% which is higher than that of India.

India is the biggest democracy on earth enjoying a prosperous and stable federal system of governance. Roger Alfred Yoron Modi would struggle in vain to make people favour such an assertion.

Regarding the Presidency, there seems to be an assumption that all the opposition groups have agreed for Kiir and Machar to lead the transition.

NAS position is that any individual who had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity should be excluded from the transition. The same applies to those who are suspects of embezzlement of public funds.

There’s a valid argument for adopting such a stance which is to avoid conflict of interests. How could the Hybrid Court of South Sudan (HCSS) function independently and fairly with President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar at the helm of the government?!

The following is an excerpt from the report of the African Union Commision of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS). “The commision therefore, finds that in order for the reconciliation process to begin, those with the greatest responsibility for atrocities at the highest level should be brought to account and mechanisms should be established to address other concerns specific to victims of violations and crimes, which include reparation.”

NAS position takes the moral high ground and conforms with the AUCISS recommendations in its entirety. It addresses the issue of accountability which seems to have been thrown out of the window in the agreement on governance.

Of course, there are some within SSOA who are more interested in power-sharing than addressing the root causes of the conflict. They do not mind letting Kiir and Machar lead the transition as long as they are given the positions they want.

NAS argument in this regard is to institute the right system of governance (Federalism) at the beginning of the transition with full accountability. That alone would address the issue of who participates in the transition and who doesn’t.

The number of States should have been a non-starter. The journalist knows very well that ARCSS is based on the pre-conflict 10 States. The inclusion of the illegal 32 States for negotiation by IGAD re-enforces the view by many that the mediation team is biased.

The Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) and the Referendum Commission on Number and Boundaries of States (RCNBC) shouldn’t have been there in the first place. They were never a part of ARCSS.

Now a paradox has arisen because IGAD talks of revitalising ARCSS while incorporating violations into it at the same time.

Those in the opposition who have caved in and chosen to go along with the 32 states, ought to stop deceiving their followers that there is still a chance to reverse the measure when they go to Juba. By then, they would have appointed their own as Governors for the States allocated to them. What argument would they come up with to challenge the 32 States which they have already become part of it?!

Our journalist has rubbished the renewal of armed conflict during the upcoming transition like what happened in July 2016. He cited that the signing of the Security Arrangements by all the parties including NAS is enough evidence that such a thing would not happen.

But a similar signing did happen in August 2015, and yet war broke out. Even the body language of the President and his refusal to shake hands with Dr Riek Machar at the Khartoum Peace Agreement signing ceremony; is quite ominous.

When you add to that President Kiir’s speech on arrival at Juba International Airport – it becomes a matter of not “if” but “when” would the said peace agreement collapse.

Roger Alfred Yoron Modi is a very “prolific” journalist. I want to draw the reader’s attention to another article that he published one day before this one. It’s under the title “Collusion and harmful actions against South Sudan peace process.”

But much of the article is a talk about himself which I find contradictory to its title. The gist of his talk is that he is under threats for what he stands for from the government as well as from undisclosed individuals best known to him.

South Sudan under President Kiir is decidedly a dangerous place for journalists. Here is the list of journalists who were killed in South Sudan since 2012.

1. Isaiah Diing Abraham – Sudan Tribune – killed outside his home in Qudele, Juba on 05/12/2012.
2. Musa Mohammed – South Sudan Radio Wau.
3. Boutros Martin – South Sudan Television.
4. Dalia Marko – Raja Radio Station.
5. Randa George – Randa – Raja Radio Station.
6. Adam Juma – Raja Radio Station.

From 2 to 6 – killed by unknown gunmen in Wau on 25/01/2015.

7. Pow James Raeth – Radio Tamazuj – caught in gunfire between warring groups on 20/05/2015 in Akobo.
8. Peter Julius Moi – South Sudan Corporate Weekly – killed a few days after President Kiir threatened journalists.
9. John Gatluak Manguet – killed by government forces in Terrain Hotel, Juba on 11/07/2016.

We know that Roger Alfred Yoron Modi was the former Managing Editor of Juba Monitor and former Chief Editor of Bakhita Radio. Also, we do know that Alfred Taban, the Editor-in-Chief of the Juba Monitor was appointed as MP to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) on the ticket of First Vice President (FVP) Taban Deng Gai.

Now we all know that Taban Deng Gai’s group has gone back to the SPLM mainstream under President Salva Kiir Mayardit. So, I don’t understand why Roger Alfred Yoron Modi should feel insecure in Juba.

His previous boss who is now part of the ruling party could phone the Chief of Intelligence, General Akol Koor, and his name would immediately be removed from the blacklist in case of a mistaken identity.

As for those individuals who continue to pose a threat to his life and who are not members of the regime, General Akol Koor could similarly be contacted, and the problem would be sorted out in no time. He would unleash the unknown gunmen to hunt-down those “criminals.”

Notwithstanding the above, our journalist wants the opposition including NAS to go to Juba on board an agreement that consolidates the status quo.

It’s ironical that while he feels unsafe in Juba despite not being identified as a potential threat to the regime, he wants those who went through the J1 shooting ordeal in July 2016; not to worry about their safety. It’s beyond logic!

The National Salvation Front is a people-centric Movement driven by the need to realise the aspirations of the people in the form of equality, justice, development, and peace.

It would leave no stone unturned in its quest for a just and sustainable peace.

NAS has prioritised peaceful settlement of the conflict over other means as long as opportunities for peace talks remain on the table for all the parties.

It’s out of NAS conviction that the victims on both sides are the same South Sudanese people. Therefore, if there’s a way to resolve the conflict peacefully and save lives, then it’s the option NAS would choose.

Finally, it’s important to state that federalism is not a recipe for war but a means to avoid future wars.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

US, Human Rights Watchdog urge Hybrid court for South Sudan

By: FRED OLUOCH, THE EAST AFRICAN, AUG/14/2018, SSN;

That is the question most observers are asking, as the key partners appear to have been forced by regional and international leaders to sign the deal on August 5 in Khartoum.

First, President Salva Kiir refused to shake Riek Machar’s hand after they signed the agreement. This seemed to send the message that President Kiir was unhappy.

Yet, as part of the agreement, the president issued a presidential decree pardoning Dr Machar, paving the way for the rebel leader to return to Juba.

But Dr Machar’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement — In Opposition (SPLM-IO) has rejected the amnesty, instead asking the president to apologise to the people of South Sudan for plunging the country into chaos.

President Kiir had earlier opposed Dr Machar’s participation in the transitional government but was pressured by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) at a meeting in Entebbe with Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Omar al-Bashir on July 8.

Such was the pressure that President Kiir, while addressing the crowd on his arrival at Juba International Airport, made it clear that regional leaders forced him to sign the deal.

“Even if we are expelled today and they are brought to power, for how long will they stay in power before you overthrow them?” President Kiir posed.

Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka, leader of the National Salvation Front, accused President Kiir of engaging in ethnic rhetoric.

    Reconciliatory?

One of the first things the president is supposed to do is reinstate Dr Machar, who will stay in Khartoum until the mediators set the implementation timetable.

James Oryema, SPLM-IO representative in Kenya, said that while President al-Bashir has a lot of leverage on President Kiir, there is scepticism and concern that the Juba leadership is not reconciliatory.

However, the Khartoum talks, which are still going on until August 19, have made major strides compared with previous efforts to stop the five-year civil war.

In the next eight months, during the pre-trial period, the two parties must form a Cabinet of 35 members, appoint new members of parliament, constitute the National Boundary Committee and integrate the armed groups into a single national army.

Negotiations will continue in Khartoum in the next two weeks to deal with the “bracketed” areas, such as who to appoint to the National Pre—Transitional Committee between President Kiir and IGAD; the composition of the National Boundary Committee and its leadership.

Others are establishing a hybrid court to try those who have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.

—-(Additional reporting by Joseph Oduha.)

LATEST BREAKING NEWS: Arab Sudan security coercing South Sudan Opposition Alliance member to sign peace deal!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE From: SOUTH SUDAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE (SSOA): FDP, NAS, NDM, PDM, SPLM-FDs, SSNMC, SSPM, SSLM, SSUM, UDRA. Date: 4th August 2018;

Intimidation of SSOA members by Sudan Security Personnel: South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) through its last two press statement in past two days had made it very clear they will not sign nor be part of this Khartoum Peace Agreement in its current form.

This agreement has failed to address the root cause and core issues fueling the crisis in South Sudan.

Following SSOA’s firm stand of not to sign this agreement, this evening Khartoum local time, Sudan Security personnel has resorted to extreme intimidation and armtwisting coercing SSOA members to sign on behalf of their constituent parties.

At this moment some members of SSPM, SSLM, and NAS have been coerced to sign the agreement tomorrow.

SSOA would like to alert the IGAD mediation, the AU, the Troika, UN, USC and the world at large that such mediation of “Peace at all Cost” by the Sudan will not usher a genuine sustainable peace in South Sudan.

Also, we would like to register our official complaint against Sudan mediation and its security personnel interference and intimidation.

To all our members and supporters, we would like to assure you SSOA will continue to stand firm advocating for the interest of people of South Sudan.

We will continue engaging to bring about Just and genuine sustainable peace in South Sudan.
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Contact: Kwaje Lasu
+1-336-575-5965 (Direct/WhatsApp)
Email: jointoppositionpressrelease@gmail.com

SOUTH SUDAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE (SSOA)
FDP; NAS; NDM; PDM; SPLM-FDs; SSNMC; SSPM; SSLM; SSUM; UDRA

Naath (Nuer) suffering under power-greedy Riek Machar is still at large

By: Cornelius Khan, South Sudan, JUL/28/2018, SSN;

I absolutely have no personal grudges against Riek Machar but his 30 years plus reign as Nuer and South Sudan leader and his proven never-dying-greed-for-power, his reckless and ignorant decisions, his lack of strategies and his satanic desire to throw the country on fire if his desires are not met, made me dislike him.

Now, after thousands have died, millions displaced, billions of national resources went to waste, livelihoods vandalized and the country is brought to her knees, Riek Machar wants to come back to Juba as First Vice President (FVP).

-Is he wise or foolish for him to destroy our lives just for him to remain in the South Sudan leadership?

-Is Riek Machar really coming back to Juba just because of the title FVP?

– What is new that he coming to offer to South Sudan?

– Now, does any one doubt what Riek Machar was fighting for position?

Honestly, everyone doesn’t want him back to Juba because death, destruction, instability and suffering accompany him.

Now, civilians hearing that he is coming back are scared to death because his presence Means War and destruction. He is simply a symbol of death and destruction and the whole Naath people have been characterized that way. Sad!!

After all the noise, the slogans about “Salva Kiir must go,” and failing to achieve a single item of his demands and failing to overthrow the Government by force, why can’t he simply step aside honorably instead of him waiting for his supporters to push him aside?

We all know, his supporters now have come to know him better and are willing to overthrow him since all he is killing people for the position of FVP.

It is always wise to step aside peacefully instead of waiting for the angry mob to push you out.

He has failed and there is absolutely no question about it and the best he can do is call it a day. But, we know him and his greed for power, he will never give way to others unless he is pushed by force.

If he failed in the frontlines, failed to achieve his goals in negotiations and finally forced to sign what was asked of him to sign, can he do anything after that in Juba?

Again, this time round, he is coming to Juba alone because we will not allow him bring his militias to Juba. No Riek Machar’s militia will be allowed to come and caused havoc again.

We will be the ones to protect him and it will be up to us to decide his fate. He will be allowed to Juba just to give peace to the ignorant villagers whom he misled otherwise his time is up.

Lastly, we still call upon the Nuer (Naath) to stop putting their hopes in the weak Riek Machar and start paying their loyalty and support to Gen. Taban Deng Gai, the man whose actions speak louder than words.

Be wise, be bold, be decisive and stop following the lost crowd, make that decision right now!!

Did I hear that the so-called South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) has refused to sign the peace agreement? I must thank them for sparing us time and space and letting them go lick their financial wounds since that’s what they are fighting for.

Maybe they are misled by the American slogans but they will regret this for a very long time.

CONTINUE TO FOLLOW RIEK MACHAR AT YOUR OWN RISK!!

LATEST: US doubts ability of South Sudan’s president Kiir and rebel leader Machar to bring peace

NAIROBI, July 22 (Reuters); The United States doubts whether South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have the leadership qualities needed to deliver peace to the country at war since 2013, the White House said on Sunday.

Peace talks last week in the South Sudanese capital Juba need to be more inclusive to succeed, the White House said, adding that it will impose fresh sanctions on anyone who threatens the country’s stability.

The statement constitutes tough U.S. language about South Sudan, a country whose independence in 2011 Washington backed after a war with Sudan that lasted decades. Since then, tens of thousands have been killed in a civil war.

“We are deeply concerned about the direction of the current peace process …. A narrow agreement between elites will not solve the problems plaguing South Sudan,” said the statement.

It implored the warring parties to implement a ceasefire as a first step and condemned a move by the country’s parliament to extend the government’s term in office.

“South Sudan’s political leaders … have not demonstrated the leadership required to bring genuine peace … We remain sceptical that they can oversee a peaceful and timely transition to democracy and good governance,” it said.

On June 13, a U.S.-drafted resolution at the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo..

South Sudan’s parliament voted this month to extend Kiir’s mandate until 2021, a move likely to undermine the peace talks as opposition groups say the change is illegal.

Last week Kiir said he is ready to accept a peace deal to end the war and set up an inclusive new government. The proposed deal would give the country five vice presidents and also covers security and power sharing arrangements. (Reporting by Omar Mohammed Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Position of Chiefs from Equatoria Region on the on-going Peace Talks in Khartoum, Sudan

TO: Mr. Antonio Gutereas,
The Unted Nations Secretary General,
UN Headquarters, New York,
United States of America (USA)

JUL/14/2018, SSN;

We, the chiefs of Equatoria Region in Uganda deliberated on the relevence of the recently signed ‘Khartoum Declaration of Agreement’ and we would like to bring your attention to our position if a lasting peace is to prevail in South Sudan.

1) IGAD mediation team, AU and Troika countries that are trying to help in bringing peace to South Sudan should address the root causes of the conflict before signing of any agreement. We shall not be part of any peace agreement that is imposed on us by the mediators.

2) The most important step is to focus on the immediate ending of the sufffering South Sudanese from brutal killings, rape, violent displacement, looting of properties and many other forms of mistreatments instead of focusing on oil production. When there is peace then automatically economic activity thrives and the country’s economy improves

3) Federal system of governance.
Equatorians have suffered a lot since the successive wars of liberation till to date. We offered our own sons, daughters, men, woment, lands, resources and more for peace for all in South Sudan. It’s our desire that for any inclusive peace agreement to be signed, the federal system of governance should be a core/principal item in the agreement.

4) Relocation of South Sudan National Capital out of Equatoria land. We, the chiefs are supporting the idea that the national seat of the government of South Sudan be relocated to Ramciel from Juba as proposed earlier on.

5) Your excellences, we would also like to bring to your attention that the chiefs fully participated in the successful referendum in 2011, thus any peace agreement signed by president Kiir of Bahr el Ghazel and Riek Machar of Upper Nile without considering our views in Equatoria is not national in character. We shall not be part of that agreement and shall be ready to our region at all costs.

6) Youth and Women.
We, the chiefs of the Equatoria Region would appreciate the participation of the youth and women in the peace process and leadership in future government unlike the recently signed agreement between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, where youth and women are excluded and we even believe not consulted altogether.

Your excellencies, we confidently believe and trust that you will consider our views to be extended to IGAD, AU and Troika, so tht a comprehensive and inclusive agreement for a lasting peace can be celebrated by all South Sudanese.

Yours Sincerely,

Chief, Scopas Lobur Peter,
Executive Chief, Bori Boma, Kangapo 2 Payam
Kajo-keji County.

For Chiefs of the Equatoria Region in Uganda

CC.
Chairperson African Union
Chairperson of the African Union Commission
IGAD Chairperson
IGAD Council of Ministers
Troika
US Secretary for African Affairs.

LATEST: Implications of the Kiir-Machar Khartoum peace ‘kidnapping’

By Dr Remember Miamingi, JUL/01/2018, SSN;

In Summary
What is tragic here is that the UN, the US government and international non-governmental organisations have said that the oil sector, which is the central focus of this paragraph, has provided the resources needed to fund the war in South Sudan and nourish the intransigence of the regime in Juba.

The regime in Juba and other armed and political parties to the conflict in South Sudan signed a framework document which appears to be a mixture of declaration of principles, declaration of intent and agreement on some substantial issues.

For the purpose of this very brief analysis, I will divide the document into three: issues on which there is an agreement, items with partial agreement and those issues that the parties have agreed to discuss and agree to in the future.

1. Areas of agreement

1.1. The oil sector
Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to “immediately” rehabilitate, manage and jointly defend the oil wells and infrastructure. The phraseology of this agreement is interesting. The parties agreed that “if need be,” “they shall” work collaboratively and in coordination to “immediately” undertake efforts required to get the oil production to its pre-war levels.

So, whether the parties agree or not, whether there is a new government or not and whether there is a revitalised agreement or not, the implementation of paragraph 5 of the Khartoum Declaration on the oil sector can and will go ahead.

What is tragic here is that the UN, the US government and international non-governmental organisations have said that the oil sector, which is the central focus of this paragraph, has provided the resources needed to fund the war in South Sudan and nourish the intransigence of the regime in Juba.

It is even very strange that oil production which was not within the remit of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and, therefore, not one of the outstanding areas of disagreement between the parties became an agenda item in the first place without any protest from the parties.

1.2. Deployment of troops in S. Sudan
The parties agreed to “kindly invite”, “Igad and African Union member states to deploy the necessary force to supervise the agreed ceasefire”. This is of gross concern. First, the agreement is not to ask Igad or the AU to deploy, but the agreement is that any member state of Igad or AU can accept this invitation and kindly deploy forces it considers necessary.

This is a front door for Uganda and Sudan, for instance, to deploy UPDF or SAF into South Sudan under the guise of supervising a ceasefire while their unexpressed purposes are to protect their interests and prop up a government that shed off all its rights and capacity to be one.

2. Areas of partial agreement

2.1. Permanent ceasefire
The parties agreed to declare a permanent ceasefire in three days. This permanent ceasefire will be based on the 2017 cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA). This is indeed a breakthrough except it might just be a mirage.

First, normally, the sequence is that you negotiate a COHA, then reach an agreement on all contentious issues and sign a permanent ceasefire. But Khartoum is not a normal circumstance. So, first there is an agreement on a permanent ceasefire, then the parties must discuss and agree to all the details before leaving Khartoum. There is a problem, a ceasefire monitored through bilateral arrangements and by countries who are either proxies to the conflict or parties to the conflict has an in build propensity to fail.

3. Where there are agreements to agree to discuss

The parties agree to continue to discuss the details of a permanent ceasefire agreement and conclude that within three days, to discuss and agree on power sharing before leaving Khartoum and the parties appear to agree not to discuss federalism or decentralization of powers. This is telling in a number of ways.

First, these are the real issues that led to the failure of the HLRF. So, a failure to reach an agreement on sustainable peace, on an acceptable system of governance that devolves power to the people and on reconstruction of the security sector, will not only undo gains on permanent ceasefire but will not attract international funding to reboot the economy and pay for peace time recovery and institutional building.

4. Conclusion

The winners in Khartoum are Bashir and Yoweri who by the way graciously agreed to grace the event. Now they have the consent of all the parties to walk right back into South Sudan. The losers are the parties to the conflict, the people of South Sudan and the country.

Khartoum is a mirage! I am tired of being a prophet of bad news. I want peace and I wish I can convince myself that it will come out of Khartoum. Unfortunately, I see parties jumping away from the Khartoum framework and I see countries with vested and conflicting interests use the Khartoum Framework to jump in back into South Sudan.

Dr Remember Miamingi, South Sudan Human Rights Observatory