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South Sudan ‘Kiir versus Machar’ civil war killed about 382,900

From: AFP, SEP/26/2018, SSN;

South Sudan’s civil war has caused the deaths of at least 382,900 people — far higher than previous estimates and more than the conflict in Syria, according to a new study.

The statistical research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine university was published Tuesday after being commissioned by the US Institute for Peace in partnership with the US State Department.

Researchers measured both the number of deaths that were a direct result of the violence as well as deaths caused by the increased risk of disease and reduced access to healthcare.

Previous estimates have put the toll in the tens of thousands.

The new figure is comparable to Syria, where more than 360,000 are estimated to have died since the conflict began in 2011.

In Summary:
The new figure is comparable to Syria, where more than 360,000 are estimated to have died since 2011
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a much-anticipated peace deal this month
South Sudan voted to leave its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011, becoming the world’s youngest country

Conflict resolution:

The UK study found that the deaths from the civil war in South Sudan, which started in December 2013, were concentrated in the northeast and southern regions of the country.

Researchers analysed mortality data, combining it with media reports and some 227 surveys carried out by humanitarian agencies to single out conflict-related deaths.

They said their findings “indicate that the humanitarian response in South Sudan must be strengthened, and that all parties should seek urgent conflict resolution”.

Their innovative statistical approach “has the potential to support those involved in humanitarian response and policy to make real-time decisions” in other conflicts, the researchers said.

Latest developments:

A rights group on Wednesday accused the government of South Sudan and its allied militias of carrying out “war crimes” of “staggering brutality” during an offensive earlier this year.

Amnesty International’s report, based on research following a government offensive on Leer and Mayendit counties in the northern Unity State between April and June, catalogued the testimonies of around 100 civilians who escaped the attacks.

“The offensive was characterised by staggering brutality, with civilians deliberately shot dead, burnt alive, hanged in trees and run over with armoured vehicles,” Amnesty said.

The group also documented “systematic sexual violence”, rape and gang-rape as well as abductions of women and girls, and the deliberate killing of young boys and male infants.

The killings echo the type of brutality meted out to civilians that has characterized South Sudan’s war since the start.

Amnesty said the latest offensive began in April and continued until early July, “a week after the latest ceasefire was brokered on 27 June”.

That ceasefire paved the way for the signing last week of another peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar aimed at ending the vicious five-year-old civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people, pushed millions to the brink of starvation and scattered refugees across East Africa.

Days of fighting:

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a much-anticipated peace deal this month, the latest attempt to end a war that has torn the world’s newest nation apart.

Since the civil war — which broke out after President Kiir claimed Dr Machar was plotting a coup — the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) regional bloc, chaired by Ethiopia, has taken the lead on peace negotiations, to little effect.

The previous peace pact collapsed in July 2016 during days of fighting in the capital Juba that forced Dr Machar to flee for his life.

After decades of civil war, South Sudan voted to leave its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011, becoming the world’s youngest country.

The split deprived Sudan of most of its oil reserves, and production was disrupted by the outbreak of war in South Sudan just two years after independence. END

Neo-Colonialism and a Faustian Bargain Undermine South Sudan’s Peace Deal

By John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, The Enough Project • enoughproject.org, September/20/2018, SSN;

Peace remains elusive in South Sudan. The latest in a line of peace deals – this one signed on September 12, 2018 between the South Sudan government and opposition – does not addressthe primary root cause of the war: the hijacking of governing institutions and the creation of a violent kleptocratic state that enriches senior officials and their commercial collaborators while doing nothing to provide social services, build infrastructure, create transparency, introduce accountability, reinforce the rule of law, or grow the economy of South Sudan.

Fueling this ongoing strife is a misguided focus on power-sharing instead of transforming the systems of governance.

By simply re-assigning positions of power, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), through its September 12, 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), has encouraged elites within the various warring parties to continue plundering the country’s economic and natural resources.

That some of the agreement’s official mediators, including Uganda and Sudan, stand to benefit politically and economically from this outcome reinforces the need for enforceable reforms that take aim at the kleptocratic system standing in the way of a sustainable peace.

The absence of a long-term diplomatic endgame allowed the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, each representing different sides in the conflict, to exploit the IGAD-led process for their own political and economic gain.

Fundamentally, this is a governance challenge, rooted in a political culture that views state resources as spoils, their value accruable to the elite alone.

Changing this mindset will require measures that force the costs of kleptocracy to far outweigh its gains.

Network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, for example, can disincentivize those at the top from prioritizing personal financial interests as their primary motivation.

Otherwise, political agreements like the one signed on September 12, 2018, will only provide a short-term stop gap to the conflict, not the long-term systemic change that the people of South Sudan need and deserve.

As personal financial gain takes precedence over common interests, political allegiances give way to the fragile alliances of self-serving kleptocrats.

Since these alliances are only as sustainable as their ability to siphon more of the country’s resources to rival elites, they hold little promise for forging meaningful consensus around the R-ARCSS.

A precursor to the likelihood that alliances will continue to shift during the peace accord’simplementation phase was the July 2016 splintering of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

The move then was motivated, in part, by a feeling among some of its leaders that the ruling SPLM party should have offered them more of a stake in the then-Transitional Government of National Unity.

When such elites seek to obtain more power— and, thus, wealth— by defecting, many taking up arms, they send a strong message to others who might otherwise be inclined to support governance reform.

It is no accident, for example, that some of those who voiced reservations and refused to sign an earlier precursor deal on governance in June have now splintered into subgroups that signed the September 12 peace accord— the better to take advantage of the financial opportunities they are convinced it affords.

Nowhere is this model of financial benefit through powersharing better exemplified than in the case of South Sudan’s military.

The recent move by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to promote 123 officers to the ranks of major-generals, in addition to promoting numerous other officers of lower rankson the eve of the peace agreement, will be countered by similar promotions on the part of the armed opposition groups, leading to an even more top-heavy security sector.

This represents a “brigadiers, but no soldiers” approach, motivated by a fear among elites that they could lose allies to rival camps.

This fear, of course, is misplaced: a top-heavy military, anchored in the expectation of material reward, undermines stability in the whole of South Sudan, weakening the state and making it more susceptible to chaos. That outcome ultimately benefits no one.

Still, finding common ground on institutional reform remains too high a price for these kleptocrats and their supporters, making peace — or its pre-requisites, security and stability— as elusive as ever.

Complicating the situation further, the September 12 peace arrangement is unlikely to garner international financial support for some of its vital components, including the cantonment of forces.

This, in turn, may negatively affect the agreement’s security arrangements, leaving only a bloated government, marred by red tape and ill-equipped to deliver vital services or support development efforts.

The implications are clear: reconstruction will be slow or non-existent; refugees may still be stranded in camps, refusing to go home without financial support and security guarantees; and South Sudan’s future will remain in doubt.

A dangerous marriage of convenience: Two independent outcomes— the threat of financial network sanctions from the main sponsors of the peace talks and corruption-induced bankruptcy— brought President Salva Kiir and the main opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, to the negotiating table in June of this year.

As a result, President Kiir, who only a week earlier had refused to work with Dr. Machar in a transitional government, rescinded his decision after realizing that he was likely to be singled out by the international community as the main obstacle to peace.

Dr. Machar, on the other hand, has gone easy on the two-army arrangement and accepted the ultimate reunification of the armed forces while also playing down his principal demand for a federal system.

All indications are that Dr. Machar and President Kiir together forged a marriage of convenience with their Sudanese and Ugandan counterparts, whose influence grew as the Troika —the United States, Britain, and Norway— exited the peace process.

This left the process exposed to the influence, motivations and machinations of Sudan and Uganda, which prioritized their own interests.

Although this outcome allows Kiir and Machar to maintain their grip on power in Juba, retaining their titles as President and First Vice President, it amounts to a kind of Faustian bargain, with Khartoum securing the resumption of crude oil production in South Sudan as well as $26 for each barrel produced over the next three years, according to the Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan signed in 2012.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s remaining share from each barrel sold will be spent buying goods from Uganda, creating a trade imbalance that vastly advantages Kampala.

Critics of these capitulations say they owe to coercive negotiating tactics, particularly by the Sudanese delegation.

Although key South Sudanese stakeholders attended the talks, including civil society, women, and youth, their participation was limited by Khartoum’s aggressive mediation strategy, which curtailed participants’ ability to provide input, critique the proposals, and serve as equal partners at the negotiating table.

When smaller opposition groups expressed reservations about the outcome, they were threatened into signing the accord, thus raising questions about their commitment to its implementation.

What is clear is that any “peace” arrived at through coercive and exclusionary tactics will only harden distrust between South Sudan and neighboring countries.

Just as this atmosphere led to the collapse of the August 2015 peace deal, it bodes ill for the current agreement.

True to form, the final text agreed to by al-Bashir, Museveni, Machar and Kiir glosses over numerous important issues that remain disputed.

These include the number of contested states, the quorum of cabinet and parliament meetings and the constitution-making process.

Each of these could spark a disagreement over boundary issues, which could reignite the conflict and delay the reintegration of rebel forces.

Neocolonialism:

While the realignment of relationships in East Africa has led to the normalization of ties between Eritrea and its former enemies Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan, cooperation between Uganda and Sudan in this case has regrettably come at the expense of the South Sudanese people.

The blatant attempt by Sudan and Uganda to control and dominate the future economic and political dispensation in South Sudan, together with the silence of IGAD and the broader international community, has emboldened both countries to take a new posture akin to that of a neo-colonial master.

The passive stance of South Sudan’s other neighbors as well as other international actors has allowed al-Bashir, a ruthless dictator, to gain an

What is clear is that any “peace” arrived at through coercive and exclusionary tactics will only harden distrust between South Sudan and neighboring countries.

unacceptable level of control over South Sudan’s oil sector, despite the fact that the country was born through a referendum in which 98.8 percent of South Sudan’s people voted for an independent and sovereign nation.

IGAD has given al-Bashir an opportunity to inject Khartoum’s influence into a peace agreement that was meant to end the suffering in South Sudan.

Instead, the deal ultimately has allowed the Sudanese regime to buttress its collapsing economy. Al-Bashir has been working hard to achieve this goal.

He has managed to see the core SPLM dismantled while also working to defeat or contain the myriad rebellions in Sudan by ensuring great influence over the flow of resources as well as the military of South Sudan.

Even the mechanisms for monitoring and verifying compliance with the September 12 agreement will be led by Sudan and Uganda.

After so many died for South Sudan’ssovereignty, Juba’s elites are returning power to Khartoum to further their own interests.

The powerful role that Uganda and Sudan have enshrined for themselves in the outcome of this agreement represents neocolonialism at its worst and serves as an economic coup by those in Khartoum and Kampala who seek to benefit at the expense of the people of South Sudan.

Once the implications are fully understood by the country’s population, further instability could ensue.

Dismantling the violent kleptocracy:

In South Sudan, power-sharing agreements have proven to be inadequate short-term fixes for underlying systemic challenges to governance.

It is of vital importance that South Sudanese leaders continue negotiating long-term solutions that directly address the causes of the conflict, transforming societal structures through internal dialogue and reform of the country’s security and financial sectors.

The international community must employ network sanctions targeted against the key military and civilian officials in South Sudan and their commercial enablers both inside and outside the country.

These network sanctions, along with robust anti-money laundering measures, can change the incentive structure for those benefiting from the cycles of violence and absence of rule of law.

Only then can South Sudan move from a weak, near-term power-sharing agreement to a framework for long-term change, one that dismantles the country’s violent kleptocracy.

For this to happen, South Sudan’s leaders must ensure that financial crimes, such as theft of state assets and exploitation of natural resources, do not continue with impunity.

Structural reform should focus on transforming the institutions of national security, including the military, the expenditures and abuses of which have hampered socio-economic development.

And instead of leaving economic sectors to be controlled by a handful of individuals who are well-connected to the country’s leadership, South Sudan must foster inclusive institutions at all levels of government.

This inclusiveness can be shepherded by civil society. By maintaining pressure on South Sudanese leaders during the implementation phase of the R-ARCSS, reform-minded civil society organizations can do what the international community has failed to do: hold these actors accountable for their commitments, lend transparency in resource management, and ensure participation in the constitution-making process.

Conclusion

*** As it stands, the R-ARCSS all but ensures that very little will change in South Sudan, with those in power continuing to enrich themselves at the expense of their country.

*** Government officials will continue to award themselves generous allowances regardless of the budget, those in power will continue to move the proceeds of corruption and natural resource exploitation outside the country and into the international financial system, and decision-makers will continue to grant virtually condition-free government contracts to their supporters.

*** Indeed, South Sudan will lurch from crisis to crisis until the levers of financial pressure, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, as well as the establishment and robust implementation of the Hybrid Court called for in the R-ARCSS, change the calculus of the self-interested power brokersin Juba.

*** Until then, rampant corruption and natural resource looting, combined with meddling from Khartoum and Kampala, will continue to economically exploit a young nation that fought so hard for its freedom.

John Prendergast, report co-author and Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “As it stands, the peace deal all but ensures that very little will change in South Sudan, with those in power continuing to enrich themselves at the expense of their country. Government officials will continue to award themselves generous allowances regardless of the budget, those in power will continue to move the proceeds of corruption and natural resource exploitation outside the country and into the international financial system, and decision-makers will continue to grant virtually condition-free government contracts to their supporters. Indeed, South Sudan will lurch from crisis to crisis until the levers of financial pressure, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, as well as the establishment and robust implementation of the Hybrid Court change the calculus of the self-interested power brokers in Juba.”

Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “In South Sudan, power-sharing agreements have proven to be inadequate short-term fixes for underlying systemic challenges to governance. It is of vital importance that South Sudanese leaders continue negotiating long-term solutions that directly address the causes of the conflict, transforming societal structures through internal dialogue and reform of the country’s security and financial sectors.”

The Revitalized Peace Agreement is Unsustainable for South Sudan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Sept/19/2018;

On 16 September 2018, a group of leaders within SSOA who signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), issued a press statement reacting to the press statement of 14 September 2018 in which we, the non-signatories, categorically rejected the R-ARCSS.

In their press statement, they asserted and rightly so, that our people “are now reeling under a ruthless and unscrupulous regime that does not care a farthing about their plights.”

It’s tragic and very unfortunate that, after reaching such a damning conclusion, these leaders will opt to legitimize, entrench and agree to work with such regime to perpetuate the suffering of our people.

What is even laughable is that these leaders who caved in under the heavy-handed tactics of the Khartoum Government and opted to surrender for fear of being kicked out of Khartoum or the region and who themselves are stationed in foreign capitals, have the audacity to accuse us of fear.

We have taken the bold and courageous decision to say no to a mediation that is conflicted and parties in the conflict.

We opted to stand with our people and to continue the struggle until they are liberated from the hegemonic and kleptocratic regime and its policies.

Our objective as SSOA Leaders who rejected the surrender agreement, is not to engage in recrimination with our colleagues, but to set the record straight to the people of south Sudan and the international community.

The commencement of the High Level Revitalization Forum in December, presented a rare opportunity to learn from mistakes committed by the defunct 2015 peace agreement that eventually collapsed in July 2016.

Its agenda was confined to discussing two Chapters that formed the edified 2015 signed peace agreement. These were chapter (I) on the Governance and Chapter (II) of the security sector.

The opposition both SSOA and the SPLM-IO presented a joint position of all the various issues pertaining to the two chapters.

On the Governance, the Opposition demanded inter alia that:

–“the country shall adopt a federal system of governance during the Transitional period through effective division of powers and resources among the federal, state and local government; and lean government during the Transitional period at all levels of government;
— President Kiir shall not lead the Transitional government; and
— the annulment of the thirty (32) states and revert to the ten (10) states as stipulated in the TCRSS 2011 and ARCSS 2015.’’

Unfortunately, these noble and just demands to address the root causes of the current civil war raging in the Republic of South Sudan were poignantly rejected by the dictatorial regime in Juba.

Equally, the signed agreement on the 12th September doesn’t contain these fundamental demands (except for a passing reference to Federalism in the Permanent constitution making) that could’ve truly transformed our country towards a genuine democratic state and ushering of true sustainable peace agreement for our suffering masses.

We were shocked that in violation of the Charter of SSOA, inconsistent with our common position and the aspirations of our people, our colleagues went ahead and signed an agreement that ignored our fundamental principles and failed dismally to address our demands.

It is even tragic to vociferously claim that all the demands have been accepted and incorporated into the agreement.

We are not aware of a split within SSOA but differences of positions.

We the SSOA constituent members who refused to surrender and to legitimatize the corrupt and murderous regime of Kiir, will continue undeterred, with the struggle to free our masses from the tyranny and the ethno-centric regime of Kiir Mayardit.

Signatories:

Name Organization Signature
Gen. Thomas C. Swaka National Salvation Front (NAS) +256 771 938 721

Hon. Pagan A. Oketch okiechpagan@gmail.com

Dr. Hakim Dario People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) press@pdm-rss.org

Amb. Emanuel Aban
National Democratic Movement (NDM) ojwokj@hotmail.com
Tel: +1917-3279842

Dr. Gatwech K. Thich
United Democratic Republic Alliance (UDRA) +1(515) 771 3541

Contact: Amb. Emmanuel Aban
+44 7466 800244 (Direct/WhatsApp)
Email: jointoppositionpressrelease@gmail.com

South Sudan’s New Peace Deal Could Bring More War

BY: John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, The Daily Beast, SEP/12/2018, SSN;

Wednesday’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns which the authors described as ‘kakocracy- meaning the “rule or government by the worst of the people.”

The peace deal signed today, September 12, 2018, between the government of South Sudan and armed opposition groups has significant shortcomings that could easily lead the country right back to full-scale war.

The South Sudanese have endured immense suffering in the last five years as the fighting has brought on food shortages and massive displacement. Nearly five million people have been forced out of their homes, inside and outside the country. Uncounted thousands are dead.

The country’s economy is a write-off. Double-digit inflation has ensured that millions are on a knife’s edge of survival and the risk of famine still looms large.

At the root of the conflict in South Sudan is the existence of a state whose institutions have been hijacked and repurposed to benefit a few top-level politicians.

Other groups, each clamoring for a bigger piece of the pie—or the whole of it—then engaged in a violent contest to capture the state, plunging the country into a deadly war.

Today’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns.

It lacks meaningful checks and balances on executive overreach in a country in which the presidency already wields immense powers that are used mainly to loot the country’s resources and deploy extreme violence against opponents, whether military or civilian.

Beneath the veneer of power-sharing arrangements on a host of contentious issues, including state borders being redrawn by the regime to reinforce its control among regional and ethnic bases, lurk several articles that grant undue advantage to the chief executive.

Worst of all, this peace agreement lacks realistic outcomes on many of the most contentious issues.

Over the years, South Sudan’s vast oil revenues have been pocketed by high-level politicians and their families, carted out of the country and invested in high-value property and other businesses.

An inquiry into the root causes of the conflict by the African Union in 2015 identified corruption as a major driver of conflict in the country.

This looting of the public purse requires a solution that will stop politicians dipping into state coffers for their own financial benefit.

Yet in many aspects, the new peace deal fails to undo the theft of government revenue by entrusting the same politicians with final oversight on revenue spending without any meaningful restraint.

Beyond checks on executive power, any peace pact between armed protagonists is underpinned by its security arrangements.

With ambiguous, unrealistic, and unsustainable expectations, the current security arrangements are a mish-mash of stipulations that create doubt and uncertainty for the leaders of armed groups on the critical matter of security in the capital, Juba, and funding for the cantonment of insurgent fighters.

These challenges could unravel the whole agreement and plunge the country into another cycle of deadly violence.

The regional mediators behind this deal succeeded in getting the protagonists talking again and persuaded them to respect a signed ceasefire, but this could be nothing more that the lull before the big storm with the consequences looming on the horizon like a category five hurricane.

However, it need not be this way.

The United States, Europe, and other friends of the South Sudanese people must build more leverage to ensure implementation of a peace deal that addresses the systemic problems fueling the war.

The U.S holds the biggest potential stick. Recent U.S targeted sanctions on individuals and entities behind the war in South Sudan had some impact, giving the government an incentive to sign the current deal, but much greater pressure will be required for its implementation, and for good governance to have a chance.

What is required, specifically, is for the U.S. and other willing nations to impose sanctions on the networks of South Sudanese officials and their commercial collaborators who continue to loot the country’s resources, and to combine those sanctions with anti-money-laundering measures designed ultimately to deny the war criminals and their commercial collaborators access to the international banking system.

America and Europe must raise the cost to those facilitating the destruction of the world’s newest country as well as those benefiting from it, in particular the banking and real estate sectors in countries neighboring South Sudan.

Until the costs of war and chaos outweigh their benefits, the deadly status quo will remain, no matter what pieces of paper are signed. END

Brian Adeba is Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project; John Prendergast is Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry.

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.)

Let’s face it: There is no DEAL, no PEACE for now.

BY: Akim Salah , Wau-South Sudan, AUG/11/2018, SSN;

The mix reactions to the Khartoum-Kampala coerced peace deal demonstrate the difference between naïve tribal opportunists and rational thinking citizens.

To begin with, the peace is all about maintaining the status quo, keeping the same failed pilot (Kiir) and co-pilot (Machar) with their respective manipulated blind followers to continue dominating the national stage/affairs regardless of contemporary history of disastrous results of epic proportion in their names.

As long as these two safeguarded the interests of the Sudanese and Ugandan demi-gods at the expense of the common people suffering in POC and refugee camps there is no problem.

M7 (Uganda’s president Museveni) turned deaf ears to testimonies of fleeing refugees in his backyard because he reaps big from aid, hence sees no reason to review relationships with Juba or at least ask his partner in crime (kiir) to change the game for the sake of the suffering people.

Yet he can afford to taunt the junior friend for failing to unite the people – What a paradox!!

Much as the old man is keen to bolster the Juba regime, economic realities back home biting hard, the Blood Dollar is no trickling in right volumes hence he has to find a way of getting back the lost trade without compromising his own regime (I will come to that latter).

While the economic meltdown in Sudan, coupled with its ambitious development plans quickly reminded El Bashir that after all, it has always been South Sudanese resources boosting Khartoum’s socio-economic development, even after the CPA, the oil dividends make more resounding proportion for development in Khartoum than Juba.

Whereas, in South Sudan itseif, looters squandered their fraction of the pie on lavish cars, properties abroad, prostitutes, and a good amount going to appease their godfathers in East Africa.

Only stupid optimists will think that the two warlords (godfathers) believe that the signed agreement will last. It was written all over their faces and eluded to only in words.

However, if one has to decode the unsaid statements “do not use these ceasefire to prepare for war” said Museveni. Yet reports indicate that he is training SPLA-IG snippers possibly in fear of a repeat of the humiliating clash in July 2016, when the meager, tactfully superior SPLA-IO forces mourned their brothers (IGs) at Jebel with a terrifying catastrophic speed – Only those who have not been in Juba/jebel can deny this fact.

Reports from credible sources intimate that if only there were 5,000 IO forces armed with artilleries, Juba would have gone, and all the same it took the better trained SPLA Units of National security to dislodge them, much like in 2013 when General Mamur had to wrestle out conquered Giada from the Nuers.

With inferences to these tragedies that cost lives of thousands of young men and women including children some of whom are still an accounted for, it’s safe to say mistrust, suspicion, the old vices of tribal hatred and vengeance have taken root to the extend of foiling any peace effort unless it’s addressed in good faith.

That brings us to the Equatoria puzzle. Relatively muted but heavily marginalized, the Equatorians’ aspirations are grossly ignored in the Khartoum deal.

That’s not because they do not have genuine stake/claim but because their forces are construed weak, not to possess real threat to Juba Regime.

These Groups found their backs against enemy friend’s wall hence logistically challenged, let alone the intelligence gathering.

More so, there is what I can call the Equatorian Phobia by both Juba and Kampala Regimes. Kampala, especially M7, knows too well semi-autonomous or independent Equatoria could pose real threat given its cultural ties with the northern Uganda and DR Congo tribes, if Idi Amin’s reign is something to go by.

It’s in Equatoria, too, that the landlocked country’s major roads linking it to the sea ports of Mombasa and Dar El Salaam are found.

Any major war with the host taking an upper hand will paralyze trade and bring the economy to its knees.

The bitter truth that the regime hates but can’t be denied is the fact that some of the Equatorian Brethren are well advanced culturally, educationally, are hardworking and development minded.

They have to be marginalized to bridge the gaps.

Of late the Equatoria phobia manifested itself in Upper Nile where the youth agitated for Equatorian employees’ expulsion from NGOs.

This was also echoed in some sections of Bhar El Ghazel and still rolling. One can be forgiven to make a guess that some of these moves are politically engineered.

The disturbing question is: will the Equatorians continue to fold their hands, endure the continuous marginalization under the watch of Wani Igga all in the name of peace?

Or will they rally behind Thomas and Bakasero to demand for a version of Federalism that suits their aspirations?

Choosing the latter means war, banditry attacks…etc, hence denying Juba to eat their looted delicacy at peace.

The Way Out:
If lasting peace is to be realized, the governance question must be renegotiated to give each region a fair share of power to run its affairs though we can still have same army, money, etc….

Summarily, mistrust, suspicion, the old vices of tribal hatred and vengeance, the Equatoria-Phobia & marginalization are set to deny lasting peace a chance.

***************Time be my Judge****************************