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South Sudan old rivals ‘end war’, again!!

BY: Peter Martell, AFRICA REVIEW, APR/28/2016, SSN;

The metal gates are still twisted where troops in December 2013 stormed the house of South Sudan’s now new Vice-President Riek Machar, as war erupted leaving tens of thousands dead.

But on Tuesday, just a stone’s throw away in his heavily-guarded state house, President Salva Kiir called the matter an “incident” as he welcomed the rebel chief turned “brother” Machar back to Juba, saying his return marked “the end of the war and the return of peace and stability”.

Peace doves were released, and after Dr Machar was sworn into office, the two men stood alongside each other with hands on hearts, as a red-coated band played the national anthem, “God bless South Sudan”.

Hopes are high but the challenges — and the expectations the new government will swiftly solve them — are huge, analysts warn.

Many are cautious, pointing out that the pair have previously fallen out, fought, made up and fought again.

Was sacked

Dr Machar, who returned to the post of vice-president that he was sacked from five months before war broke out, said he wanted to work for “full implementation” of an August 2015 agreement “to make sure peace breaks out all over the country”.

For now, the war-weary population appears to be breathing a sigh of relief that for once, there is some hope for peace.

“We want the killing to stop,” said Ms Teresa Nyadet in Juba, a 58-year old mother of eight, one of over 180,000 living behind the razor wire protection of UN bases across the country.

“We women, we want peace in South Sudan, and Dr Machar must make sure the kind of life we are in stops.”

The next few weeks will be critical for persuading people the country has turned a corner.

The camp

“I am happy that Riek Machar has come, as this means that we are now going to get out of the camp,” said Ms Elizabeth Akol, a mother of four, also at a UN base in Juba.

“We are tired and have suffered a lot.”

The conflict, which has torn open ethnic divisions, has been characterised by horrific rights abuses, including gang rapes, the wholesale burning of villages and cannibalism.

Ensuring that the sides work together in a unity government, and that the thousands of rival armed forces now in separate camps inside the capital keep their guns quiet, will be an even bigger challenge.

Both sides remain deeply suspicious, and there is continued fighting between multiple militia forces who now pay no heed to either President Kiir or Dr Machar.

Mr Jok Madut Jok, who heads the Juba-based Sudd Institute think-tank, warned the return was only one of many steps.

“The people of South Sudan may be holding their breath for the war to end… but I think they should also be cautious not to let down their guard,” Mr Jok said.

Rebel leaders

Both President Kiir and Dr Machar are former rebel leaders who rose to power during Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war between north and south — a conflict in which two men fought each other — before South Sudan won independence in 2011.

Mr Jok warned the old rivals “may disagree on several things along the way of the implementation, and that could easily return the country to a very messy situation”.

Dr Machar’s return to a country awash with weapons was stalled for a week by arguments that at one point came down to a dispute over some two dozen rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that his security detail was allowed to have.

The pair now face far bigger problems.

The profits

The economy is in ruins, inflation has eroded savings and salaries, and without another round of massive international support there is little cash to rebuild and prove that the profits of peace are better than those of war.

With more than five million people in need of aid and more than two million forced to flee their homes, aid agencies who are struggling to support them said they welcomed any move towards peace but that the crisis was far from over.

“Though the peace process resolves some national level political disputes, it does not resolve escalating humanitarian and protection needs on the ground,” said Mr Victor Moses, who runs the Norwegian Refugee Council aid agency in the country.

Others warned that without justice to address the horrific abuses carried out by all sides, reconciliation would not be possible and hatred would fester.

Mr John Prendergast, who played a key role in drumming up US-backing for South Sudan’s independence in 2011 and who now runs the Enough Project campaign group, warned the root causes of the conflict remained unaddressed.

Deadly patterns

“Forming a government with the same actors responsible for the collapse of the economy and atrocities holds open the possibility that grand corruption will return to its pre-war patterns,” Mr Prendergast said.

“Without an emphasis on consequences for gross corruption and atrocities, it’s unlikely the deadly patterns will be broken,” he added.

But it is the best chance yet for peace. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, the Episcopalian Archbishop of South Sudan, has spent decades overseeing peace efforts in South Sudan.

“Now is the time for forgiveness, because we have to put all this behind us,” said Archbishop Bul.

“Let’s give peace a chance.” (AFP)

Insight into Kiir–Machar upcoming power sharing government

By: John Bith Aliap – Australia, APR/13/2016, SSN;

The Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan also referred to as ARCISS, agreed in August 2015 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is hoped by its architects to end the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. Military showdown between Kiir and Machar who are they key principles in the war raged for nearly two years with devastating outcomes.

The conflict remains one of the most brutal conflict in the continent of Africa. Recent UN figures show that more than 730,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries, 1.5 million people are internally displaced and 50, 000 people are believed to have perished.

The peace talks in Ethiopia were the last attempt to bring Kiir and Machar on the dining table to share the national cake. All previous diplomatic efforts had failed, but the U.S. government which is also accused of having a deadly hand in the conflict pressed Kiir and Machar against the wall until they unwillingly signed the peace agreement for the interest of their people.

The final agreement, dubbed as “ARCISS” or “Imposed Peace Agreement” is seen by many as a result of skillful diplomacy and political trade-offs exerted on the main warring parties. However, while the agreement appears to be a path-breaking, war-ending and peace-keeping tool, it does not seem to be an effective framework to end the vicious cycles of violence in the baby nation of South Sudan.

Although ARCISS is crucial in giving the new country a set of principles, rules and institutions; it doesn’t appear to be providing a universally backed direction capable of guiding the war-wrecked South Sudan through the unchartered waters of democratisation and liberalisation – the two principles of peace-building.

However, given ACRISS’ uncertainty, it is important to assess its intention for the interest of my readers and the policy-makers in the areas of peace and state-building. With a war raging in Syria, Iraq, Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Sudan and Yemen such discussions are clearly timely and worthwhile to look into. The idea that Kiir – Machar upcoming “Transitional Government of National Unity” will silence the guns and lay the foundation of South Sudanese’ unity isn’t borne out of experience.

In December 2013 after Machar attempted to grab the power from his would-be boss, Salva Kiir, clashes occurred between their camps of supporters and the civil war quickly appeared on the cards. The international community backed by regional blocks such as IGAD and AU tried to end the bloodshed by setting up a Transitional Government of National Unity with Kiir behind the wheels and Machar as the passenger.

But while Machar and Kiir are forcefully made to swallow their pride and share the much contested power, the conflict on the ground between their tribal-based militias and sections of the security apparatus linked to them will likely continue unabated.

With Kiir–Machar known political rivalry, each side will be yearning to exploit the other in an attempt to seize control of J1 presidential palace; and the so called Transitional Government of National Unity will be a thing of the past.

South Sudan is not the only country in the world where bitter enemies like Kiir and Machar sit together in the government while their forces carry on the conflict. In Iraq for example, the government of national unity, mainly made up of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish was established, but the forces under their direct control continued with, not one, but a number of inter -ethnic conflicts.

In the case of Cyprus, the withdrawal of British and the gaining of Independence in 1960 was accompanied by a handful of uneasy power sharing deals, but these deals collapsed in no time.

So, Kiir-Machar power sharing government doesn’t appear as the step to the elimination of tribal division, but it’s rather an accommodation between the forces that are the architects and expression of these divisions as to how they can carve things up between them.

Kiir and Machar could share the cabinet in J1, while their forces continue to aggressively flex their military muscles on the ground in Jebel Kujur and Luri. Kiir-Machar upcoming Transitional Government of National Unity is a recipe for maintaining tribal status quo, it’s not for achieving reconciliation, or bringing together the tribally- divided communities across South Sudan.

Whether it quickly flies apart or maintained in a relatively stable form for a time will be determined by the intensity of the conflict on the ground, and not fundamentally political miracles performed by those who take their seats in the would-be Transitional Government of National Unity TGONU. Even if Kiir-Machar’s government survives for a lengthy period of time, this doesn’t necessarily indicate the end of tribal feud in South Sudan.

Kiir-Machar power sharing government will only institutionalise sectarianism and perpetuate the conflict in some form. The power sharing government that involves a sectarian politician like Riek Machar isn’t a solution, nor is it a step to a solution. ARCISS has only made Kiir & Machar, who had held opposing positions in a bloody war, sign a document which they may not have agreed with, but which will nevertheless stop them from bashing each other.

John Bith Aliap is an Australia-based political commentator and can be reached at Johnaliap2011@hotmail.com.

Is Dr. Riek Machar “signing” His Death Certificate by Returning to Militarily Fortified Juba City?

BY: J. Nguen, CANADA, APR/10/2016, SSN;

Warmongering is one thing but telling nothing but the truth is another. This piece is one of the truth-telling political commentaries on South Sudan’s political affairs and road to peace and stability. Dr. Machar, the Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/A-IO, the armed opposition in the country is scheduled to return to Juba, South Sudan 18 April 2016.

This step is in line with the Compromised Peace Agreement signed in August 2015 but I recently developed serious reservations regarding this tentative Machar’s return to Juba based on saboteur evidence or much more.

In March 2016, I wrote a commentary questioning the Government of South Sudan’s readiness for peace, particularly over Lt. Gen. James Gai Yoach saga. I outlined why I was justified and should be concerned over unprecedented prevailing bad intention at the time and still relevant while writing this piece.

On the second week of April 2016, I became more certain over the Government of South Sudan’s intransigence, saboteur attitude toward peace and possible secretive intention to do away with Machar upon arrival to Juba.

My thoughts became more apparent on the following grounds:
I. Juba is not demilitarized as required by the August Peace Deal and this is as one of the crucial steps to ensure Dr. Machar to return to the capital. Unfortunately, this didn’t occur and there are no signs showing its eventuality in the near future.

II. The Government of South Sudan is currently on the military operations; the commanding officer is none other than the army’s General Chief of Staff, Paul Malong Awan. This offensive is ongoing in the West and Eastern Equatoria States and Western Bhar El Ghazal respectively. This is no secret to no one.

III. The operationalization of the illegal 28 States created by President Kiir is also underway unabated despite IGAD’s resolution to suspend such operations.

IV. Gen. Paul Malong Awan has once again mobilized a force outside the regular SPLA-Juba army in Bhar El Ghazal region. This force is reminiscent to the illegal armed Dinka militia which he commanded and carried out the Nuer massacre in Juba in December 2013.

V. Gen. Malong ordered the transportation of this force to Juba and “eight lorries” full of these troops arrived in Juba on the 10th of April 2016 prior to Dr. Machar’s scheduled arrival.

VI. Gen. Paul Malong “vowed never to accept,” South Sudan’s 1st Vice President Designate, Dr. Riek Machar “acting as President in the absence of President Salva.” It was alleged that Gen. Malong has stressed that he will “never allow Dr. Machar to be a acting President or President” but after he is “dead.”

VII. Salva Kiir’s Government has rejected any meeting between Dr. Machar and Salva Kiir to be facilitated by JMEC’s chairman upon Machar’s arrival in Juba. This in itself is an issue of concern since both men don’t talk to each other; maybe, this is where hell will break loose, God forbid!

These articulated points are on the public domain and there are becoming apparent by the day, as Machar’s return to Juba draws closer.

So, the question becomes if indeed, Dr. Machar is “signing” his own death certificate by returning to Juba given the prevailing evidences that Juba is not demilitarized yet and is being fortified with illegal armed militia and by Kiir’s government’s refusal for a neutral body to facilitate the first meeting of these supposed two rivals?

These developments are imminent threats to the implementation of the peace agreement and to Machar’s personal life.

Therefore, I seriously recommend that JMEC take the lead by informing the Peace Guarantors of the apparent troops build up in Juba, possible issue of sabotage of the peace in South Sudan and, finally, Dr. Machar must be advised to withhold plans to return to Juba until further notice because the eventuality of letting these slips go uncorrected would be a grossly deadly ignorance.

J. Nguen is a concerned South Sudan citizen living in Canada. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com

Explanatory Expectations and Accusatory Fingers for the Govt. of South Sudan

BY: Kuir ë Garang, APR/08/2016, SSN;

It seems like the Lincolnian government of the people by the people and for the people is in obsolescence. And nowhere is this obsolescence true than in South Sudan. This sociopolitical tragedy owes its emergence to what American novelist, Dalton Trumbo, once said: “The chief internal enemies of any state are those public officials who betray the trust imposed upon them by the people.”

It’d be naïve to expect South Sudan to institute all the required governance structures within a decade. However, it’s very dangerous for South Sudanese officials to use the ‘age’ of the country as an explanatory excuse for their failures.

Admittedly, there are issues that are understandably excusable, however, there are issues whose preparatory parameters need neither money nor time. These issues are specificity and clarity of purpose.

Citizens need guidance and inspiration; and these should come from both national and local leadership. However, with no specificity and clarity of what national and local initiatives are, people become despondent; not necessarily out of the reality of things but out of political disconnect between the people and the government.

The government isn’t the government of people through speeches and professed, imaginary deeds. People need to be valued through demonstrable deeds. An uninformed electorate is a dangerous, moldable crowd. And people don’t have to be ‘educated’ to be politically informed. They just need to know what their government is doing for them and how it’s doing it.

For instance: What’s the government plan for the next 5-10 years? How’s the government planning to achieve such a plan? What are the expected outcomes: both bad and good? How much money is to be spent and how? Where’s the money coming from? What are the shortfalls and how is the government expecting to meet them? How does the government expect to remain transparent and how is accountability supposed to be assured? How can the president and his officials regularly keep in touch with the people? Town hall meetings? Weekly radio/TV address?

It’s understandable that every government has its plans; however, a government that doesn’t bring its plan to the people can’t pretend to be working for the people. People aren’t accountable to the president and his officials. The president and his officials are the servants of the people and they owe every single citizen explanations anytime major decisions are made; unless these decisions are classified information related to national security.

During his independence speech on July 9, 2011, the president outlined a 100-day plan. The promise was a great start to South Sudan’s independence. Unfortunately, neither the president nor the parliament thought it expedient to come back to the people for accountability! Was anything achieved with that 100-day play? If not, then why and what does the government expect to do about it?

When the government, supposedly of the people, fails to explain its national mandate and strategic plans to the people who elected it into office, then that government shouldn’t claim to be representing the people; and the government deserves accusatory fingers. Taking people for granted is treasonous.

In 2012, the government sent out a letter to government officials about 4 billion dollars of stolen public funds. It was a welcome initiative and many South Sudanese were appreciative. When the presidency flexes its muscle on behalf of the people about what rightfully belongs to the people of South Sudan, the people become hopeful.

However, no one knows what became of the process, the stolen money, and the officials concerned. South Sudanese are now scratching their heads regarding the stolen money. As the case with any responsible government and leadership, the people are expecting an explanation they aren’t even getting.

A government that doesn’t take its citizens seriously, or lords its workings over the people is a government on its way to dangerous territories. While I don’t expect transparency to be at the same level of Canada or France, it’s crucial for South Sudanese officials to make sure that South Sudan moves forward with consistent transparency and promise.

No country is too young to put down a clear, people-friendly national strategic plan? No country is too young to distribute power equally to the three branches of government without the presidency usurping power. No country is too young to put its people front and center of its sociopolitical and socioeconomic plans.

Empowering South Sudanese citizens is as simple as letting them know ‘what’s happening and why!’ Take them for granted and the accusatory fingers point to the presidency and the parliament.

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese author and poet. For contact, visit www.kuirthiy.com

Gwuduge unresolved Land Grabbing now traded with baseless community accusations & character assasination

By Justin Tombe Demetry, MAR/3/2016, SSN,

QUOTE: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass;

Issues of land disputes in the past were mostly resolved at the communal level when our wise elders and community chiefs were able to contain such unnecessary problem from escalating further. Those community leaders exercised their wisdom amongst the communities in conflict without the need of any major government involvement. Such practices of land grabbing at a massive scale were not even heard of during the regional government simply because everyone knew where they are from and which land belonged to them.

It is pertinent to state that, from 2005 until date, land grabbing became prevalent in South Sudan especially in greater Equatoria where marauding armed cattle keepers, land grabbers in uniform and some members of the country’s top echelon continue to grab land with impunity. These practices have also encouraged the rest of their community members to abandon their ancestral land in pursuit of the illegal land scheme. With such barbaric and medieval practices; others still wonder why the clamor for federalism never fades away.

If such outrageous practices are not a form of hidden planned occupation, domination or subjugation of other tribes, why would the government allow other people to continue with this heinous practice from 2005 until date? Which schools of thought even instill such a dirty practice in our society? Will it even succeed or be sustained for long? These questions should help those grabbers understand or exercise reasoning in what they are up to if perception have any meaning.

Frederick Douglass, an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman once said: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

This incredibly relevant quote should be a reminder that, even if the issues of Bari land have been resolved because of its presence in the national capital; there are others out there in the three former regions that still deserve justice for their ancestral land; else, there will be no peace and stability for the Southern Sudanese to dream of.

The protest made by Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka should not be taken lightly or be seen as a protest for his community land alone. As a matter of fact, land were grabbed in the whole of geographical Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria combined. In addition, Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal especially the Fertit tribe; not forgetting the ‘awulad Nyikang’ in the Greater Upper Nile, and others have very serious issues of institutionalized land grabbing which also led to some previous rebellions by the Shilluk tribe, and probably others in the pipeline due to noting else but land as the main cause.

UNESESSARY CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF LT. GEN. THOMAS CIRILO

Several news paper reports in Juba which lacks authenticity; as well as some gimmick press release in the internet world have given rise to some charlatans in their unjustifiable attempt to damage the reputation of Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka. According to the Down – daily Newspaper in Juba, vol. 1, issue 046, date March 29, 2016; an article written by Joseph Oduha under the following title never ceased to amazed readers and the victimized community: “I will fight along Bari Community against land grabbers – Cirilo.”

The article have stated that the top army commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo has insisted to stay in his home village in Gwuduge arguing that, he was under directives from his community to confront land grabbers who have threatened indigenous people in the area. Pathetic indeed!

The article as if being driven by magic, also made an inexplicable switch to the recent reshuffle in the army command. Even thought the article rightfully stated that Gen. Thomas Cirilo was removed from being the army Deputy Chief of General Staff for Training, and reassigned as the head of the Directorate of Logistics in the SPLA; the article on the other hand falsely reported that, days after the reshuffle of the military high command, Gen. Thomas Cirilo had not shown up to take the new responsibility.

It also reported that, Gen. Cirilo’s absenteeism from work prompted President Kiir, V.P. Wani Igga, Gen. Paul Malong and the National Security Minister, Gen. Obutu Mamur to pay a surprise visit to Gen. Cirilo in his village of Gwuduge so as to convince him to report to work. The report went further and stated that, military sources said Gen. Cirilo insisted that, he will come to Juba
after he has silenced the land grabbers.

Contrary to this particular information on the Dawn daily newspaper, highly confirmed reports from credible sources in Juba have ruled that, this particular news as well as others in the social media are counterfactual, and are also design as an attempt to cover up or divert the focus of the land still under siege by some members of Dinka Bor and Padang.

Therefore, I do not want to refer to the associated news in both the internet as well as the Dawn newspaper as rubbish; however, those reporting need to get the facts from credible sources so as to provide authentic information to the public.

As a matter of fact, Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo is the second in command of the SPLA who still executes his national duty, and at the same time following up with his complain because the issues have not been fully settled yet. That is why he decided to get the security along Juba-Rajaf road beefed up with regular access – unlike the reports that claimed Juba-Rajaf road was blocked.

That being said, one is left to ask the following question: From when did an individual or any community become involved in the SPLA Command’s reassignments, or the attendance of SPLA generals in executing their national duties?

Other news outlets have also given an interesting title to Gen. Thomas Cirilo as the “Bari army commander.” Such a fallacy is devoid of logic and it is clear that, this is another attempt to provoke or aggravate the community, and at the same time implicate them unnecessarily to give a leeway for the land grabbing scheme to continue. Being in the army doesn’t mean that one cannot complain about injustice, or protect the land and its people in anyway deemed necessary.

The constitution of South Sudan clearly states that, the mission of the national armed forces, in addition to its other national duties, shall be to: “protect the people of South Sudan;” and also “be involved in addressing any emergencies, participate in reconstruction activities, and assist in disaster management and relief in accordance with the constitution and the law.” In essence, what have been addressed is an emergency; and it is for the protection of land and its people.

God forbid, if nation-wide disorder or Somalization takes its turn, there is no single community that will end up putting their lives in the line of an onslaught, be victimized, or preyed upon without fierce defense. Remember! The protection of oneself or any community per se is God’s given rights bestowed to any living thing.

SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN NESITU FOR KIDNAPPING STUDENTS

A different article also published in the same news paper under the above title. The article is regarding the case of five school students kidnapped in the same area under siege. The kidnapping of those students have led to the arrest of some Bari Community members around the church area including a catholic priest. Those arrested were later released after the investigations conducted found out that, they have nothing to do with the kidnapping or cover-ups.

Without knowing the history of kidnapping in the area, others were quick to associate the incident of the five students not only to the innocent Bari who are struggling to get their ancestral land back, but also baselessly associated such an ill-practice to the group referred to as “the Bari militia.”

For those who are not familiar with the incidence of kidnapping and the distractions of the traditional social settings in the area due to terror inflicted on the community; the Bari from the whole area of Tokiman, Koliye, Logo, Kondokoro, Bilinyang, Mogiri, et cetera have suffered under the hands of kidnappers and thugs during the war and the post-war era. That is why some of the community members during the war decided to get relocated to their traditional sanctuary places, the church area in Rajaf, the camps in Gumbo; as well as some established camps in and around Juba.

The victimized communities have not stayed where they were or where they are currently based because of their choices, but because of the suffering, loss of lives and kidnapping subjected on them. Abductors who occasionally come there especially from the Murle tribe have abducted students, and children from the area. Even the breast-feeding kids were not spared; and some including my blood relatives were abducted in 2013, and were not seen by their parents till date.

The behaviors of kidnapping or abduction are something that the Bari does not practice. Needless to say, just like the rest of the other communities, we are likewise blessed with our beautiful fertile women who are able to produce adorable kids to the community. On the other hand, the Bari have handful of immediate/extended family members and orphans from relatives and community members who have died of natural causes; as well as the children of heroes and heroines who are in need of support from the limited resources available.

That does not mean that the Bari cannot voluntary raise kids from other communities. Children in need of support from other communities were successfully raised in a lot of Bari homes, and there are a lot out there who became very successful citizens – appreciative of the support they obtained. With that being said, there is no justification whatsoever to associate the community
with kidnapping or abductions. Apart from the justification provided, as law abiding citizens, the community knows very well that, kidnapping or abduction is a serious crime punishable under the law.

On the other end of the spectrum, thugs and criminals have also disturbed the community in the area by shooting and killing pedestrians along Juba-Rajaf road; which also includes victims such as motor cycle riders so as to confiscate their motor-bikes. Some of the thugs and criminals were known to have been among the squatters who took over Rajaf-Nimule junction before it was demolished. With all those criminal activities, others still wonder why the Bari Community vehemently rejects any form of illegal settlement.

Those types of criminal activities have prompted the community to petition the Juba City Council in 2013 so that the police station can be built to help protect the community. Despite the fact that the community had raised funds and the City Council had agreed to assist in building a police post; as well as provide a police patrol, the initiative failed to materialize.

Since hope springs eternal, another chance is to similarly petition the governor of Jubek State and his lordship, the mayor, to see into it that the project is executed so that the community can be protected if there will be law and order in place. Without such a service, the community has every right to protect itself from thugs, criminals or adversaries.

LAND IN TOKIMAN EAST INCLUDING NESITU STILL UNDER SIEGE

With the details of the Gwuduge land issues surfacing out there with evidence of land grabbing where some sections of the two communities of Dinka Bor and Padang caught red-handed; they are now known beyond reasonable doubt that their settlement were not for humanitarian purposes, but for illegal land scheme. Therefore the victimized Bari community is left with nothing but to continue being vigilant until the land grabbers are fully evicted. The information in the following links outlines the genesis of this very land scheme and the rebuttal provided:

http://www.nyamile.com/2016/03/18/condemnation-of-the-recent-land-grabbing-in-the-village-of-gwuduge-tokiman-rajaf-payam-in-the-southern-sudans-capital/
http://www.nyamile.com/2016/03/19/a-response-to-the-bor-and-padang-dinka-denial-of-land-grabbing-in-gwuduge/

Those details seems to have assured the victims of the land grabbing as well as the concerns citizens that, the land grabbers would surrender the land taken after the arrest of their ‘ring leaders’ for not having even an iota of justification or approval for temporary settlement in the area.

Nonetheless, fresh news from the ground still indicates that, not all the land grabbers were evicted from the entire Tokiman East villages including Nesitu. The reason that the process came to a standstill is simply because some of the junior officers from the Tiger Battalion ordered to led the forces to help with the eviction of land grabbers were in fact among those who have also grabbed land in the area, and are in the process of erecting concrete structures. That is why they became reluctant to pursue the demolition; as such, a joint neutral force is expected to supervise the demolition.

The Bari is not only known as a very peaceful community; but is also known as a community that can never resort to violence unless seriously provoked. Since the issue of land grabbing in question have already been brought to the attention of President Salva Kiir Myardit and the SPLA Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, there is a say in our own Bari language that, ‘kulya aje ‘durokin ko kwen I lobeke;’ which is translated as the case have reached the bird’s beak – which means, the case have reached the highest authority.

Therefore, the authority should use its ultimate wisdom to expedite the very issue of this land grabbing at the backyard of its national capital; and subsequently, address the land being grabbed from other communities in the entire country in an amicable approach. This needs to come along with strict state policy of punishment for offenders before the country ends up in the brinks of
being torn apart divisively due to land grabbing.

Regards,

Justin Tombe Demetry

Justin Demetry is one of the sons of Gwuduge Village; have worked for several years in the oil and gas industry in Canada, but currently pursuing graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering, and can be reached at the following email: tombelodemen@yahoo.com

The Bari Community Is At A Crossroad: Time For Self-defense!

BY: Dr. LAKO Jada KWAJOK, MAR/26/2016, SSN;

Gwu’duge is a village near Juba on the eastern bank of the Nile (Supiri). It’s the centre of the current unrest around Juba in the aftermath of the land grabbing attempts by some SPLA officers and individuals from the Bor and Padang Dinka communities. The events were a game changer in a situation that has effectively gotten out of control. It prompted Lt. General Thomas Cirillo, a son of the area, to intervene in support of his folks.

It must be stated that the general feeling within the Bari community is one of mistrust towards the government soon after its inception in 2005. There are valid reasons for the community to take that stand which culminated in its demand for the relocation of the capital away from Juba.

The Bari people are among the most peace-loving tribes in South Sudan. This applies to the rest of the Karo group of tribes (the historical name for the Bari speakers) and the Equatorians in general. They have embraced and accommodated all the communities of South Sudan on their land.

Even foreigners and refugees were wholeheartedly welcomed, treated cordially and in a dignified manner. I have never heard in my life so far that they harassed, intimidated or attacked members of other tribes, foreigners or refugees. They always act defensively to fend off aggression.

The Congolese refugees were in Juba in their thousands in the late sixties and early seventies. Did anything go wrong in the relation between them and the Bari community? The answer is a big no. They were well received and allowed to cultivate crops, fish and produce charcoal.

There have been positive social interactions between the community and the refugees and few inter-marriages did occur. Around that time the Congolese music gained popularity and our women who refused to wear the Sudanese (Thop) started wearing the Congolese (Kitenge) and even adopted the Congolese way in hair plaiting and hair styles.

Conversely, the Congolese indeed went back home influenced by some of our positive cultures. Had they stayed longer, they would have quickly merged with the locals given the fact that their presence was never a threat in any way to lives or properties.

Well, times have changed considerably. Over the past decade, the Bari community and Equatorians, in general, endured the brunt of the misrule that has engulfed South Sudan. Even at the peak of the Anyanya war which was spearheaded by the Equatorians, the attacks on the Bari villages were never as intense as it is nowadays.

It affected their way of life with enormous negative impact on their socio-economic status. All this time they remained patient and gave the government the benefit of the doubt with the hope that good governance would prevail at the end of the day. Alas! Things got far worse than before in any way imaginable.

It’s clear that the Bari community’s approach to the challenges facing it is not working so well. It’s time for the community to decide for either putting up with the status quo or be assertive and take full control of the course of events on its land.

All human beings, indeed all living creatures are born with the natural right of self-defence which is auxiliary to the natural and legally defensible right to live.

It is customary all over the world that protecting individuals and communities is the duty of the government. However, in some countries the law allows individuals to possess arms for self-defence. In England before the formation of regular army and police force, it has been the duty of able men to keep watch and ward at night and to confront and capture suspicious intruders.

The Minutemen (who would be ready to fight at a minute’s notice) were the American equivalent of the English vigilantes. The English Bill of Rights of 1689, regarded the right to bear arms as an auxiliary to the natural right of self-defence. In the USA, the Second Amendment to the US constitution that was adopted on 15/12/1791, protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

No reasonable person would ever dispute the fact that law and order have crumbled under the current regime. The events around Gwu’duge showed high-ranking SPLA officers from the Jieng communities leading the land grabbing activities. The Minister of Defence and his cohorts have already seized the area they illegally called Juba 2.

Only a naive person would think that the ruling clique is unaware of what has been taking place in Bari land. It’s a systematic plot orchestrated by the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) and aimed at driving the Bari people out of their ancestral land using the government machinery.

There is a weird notion within some communities in South Sudan that you would never find anywhere in the world – where law-abiding citizens are branded as cowards while thieves and killers are tolerated or even celebrated as brave men.

The Bari community needs to recall its history and highlight to the younger generation how it weathered the onslaught of well-organised and much stronger adversaries in the past and prevailed.

As the government has apparently failed by incompetence, design or both in providing security to the Bari people – it’s then incumbent on the community to take up the task of protecting all its members like in the olden days but using different means. It should be regarded as a call for a collective effort to defend the community and is not directed against the government or anyone living peacefully in Bari land.

At this critical juncture, it’s imperative for all the sons and daughters of the community to come together and contribute ideas to help navigate our people through these difficult times.

In the first place, You (the Bari people) and the Equatorians in general, should look in contempt to whoever claims to have liberated you from the Arabs. It’s a laughable claim made maliciously to justify hegemony, looting and land grabbing. All the communities without exception have contributed to the independence of South Sudan. The SPLA never won the war in the battlefield and never captured Juba or the major towns.

The demand to relocate the capital away from Juba, indeed from greater Equatoria, should be reiterated and maintained. Let President Kiir and the JCE move the capital temporarily to Kuacjok, Rumbek, Bor or wherever until such time when Ramciel is built and ready to accommodate the capital.

You should not recognise any land grabbed or owned illegally by individuals or other communities. When the time is ripe the illegal owners should be evicted by whatever means deemed suitable.

Armed pastoralists should never be allowed to roam Bari land. They have plenty of grazing areas on their ancestral lands hence should be made to go back home.

You should liaise with your brethren, the Karo, and the rest of the Equatorians who have been reeling from similar issues. Coordinating self-defence at village level is necessary.

Most important is to acquire the necessary means for self-defence. The disarmament process was never adhered to in the Jieng areas. It was a plot by the JCE to disarm the Equatorians and others while allowing the Jieng to possess stockpiles of a variety of arms. The result is evident to everyone – a plethora of Jieng militias, armed youth groups and armed pastoralists.

Therefore, you should arm yourselves as individuals and as village communities. Vigilante groups or well organised militias are the answer to the insecurity brought upon our communities.

If the Jieng could be allowed by the government to have several militias, why not the Bari, the Pojulu and the rest of the Equatorians? There could have been different stories to the attacks that took place in Mundri, Yambio, Wonduruba and Lo’bonok, had the locals been well armed for self-defence.

The Anglo-Irish statesman and writer Edmund Burke once said, I quote – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” End of the quote.

I believe the worst thing ever that could happen to a man is not to be able to defend himself. And remember, there is no power on earth that could deny you the right to self-defence because it’s given to you by no one but God.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

SPLM/A: Jieng vehicle for land grab

BY: ELHAG Paul, FEB/27/2015, SSN;

The destruction of the fabric of Equatoria’s society by the Jieng through routine herding of cattle into established settlements to cause disruptions in life style followed by massive violence can not under any circumstance be termed as an acceptable norm of social interaction.

President Salva Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) have failed squarely on issues of social and human management. Their plan to install themselves as elites in South Sudan already looks tattered.

To get the point just access and watch this URL: ‘Independent South Sudan: A Failure of Leadership’ http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/independent-south-sudan-a-failure-of-leadership-121015

The recent problem in Lobonok (Vice President James Wani Igga’s home area) in southern Bari is not the first and it will not be the last. http://www.southsudannation.com/?s=lobonok

The same intruders and aggressors have been doing it since 2005 throughout Equatoria. Nimule, Mundri… etc, stand out as examples. The aggressive cattle herders have consistently refused to behave and promote peaceful coexistence with the local people and their way of living.

Wherever they go in Equatoria the Jieng wantonly aggress the locals with impunity with the government looking the other way pretending not to see.

Always there are no investigations to crimes committed by the heavily armed cattle herders (Jieng) with their victims’ grievances remaining unaddressed by the government.

In the then Sudan, the government had a firm grip on law and order keeping the Jieng on check which made them to behave and respect law and order. However, with South Sudan becoming independent with the government in Juba fully dominated by the Jieng the problem has become unbearable.

Reason: Simple! The Jieng “hijacked” the state of South Sudan and they armed the average Jieng while disarming all the Equatorian people creating a situation of huge power imbalance in their favour.

Worse still, they have disabled the judiciary deliberately to be blind to non-Jieng grievances.

The only tribes that have managed to defend themselves against the Jieng are the Murle and the Nuer to a certain extent simply because these tribes are equally armed.

Were the Equatorians to be armed, the Jieng would not be traversing freely in Equatoria as there would be a cost to such aggressions. While the Jieng are still abusing state power, this problem is unlikely to go away without it being addressed adequately by the Equatorians.

In absence of a properly functioning state as now in South Sudan there is need for Equatorians to find a way of how to survive the ongoing onslaught on their way of life.

The deliberate intrusion of the Jieng into Equatorian way of life with its painful disruptions of normal daily life appears to be a Jieng strategy to achieve their much trumpeted objective of “born to rule”.

All the signs are that they want to achieve their objective in an atmosphere of chaos. Now if one surveys the landscape of Equatoria, Jieng aggression stands out. This is even at this time when the country is supposed to be in peace.

Certainly, for the average South Sudanese peace has not yet come. For those who would argue to the contrary, let them explain to us why are the United Nations Protection camps still swelling with people seeking protection.

These innocent people live under constant fear due to being preyed on by the SPLA, the Jieng military machine.

For example, in this week the SPLA attacked the civilians who have taken refuge in Malakal UN Protection Camp. Please see, ‘Mass killing at UN protection site in South Sudan’ https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/mass-killing-un-protection-site-s-sudan

Let them also explain to us why South Sudanese are flocking to Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda as refugees seeking safety.

Internally, look at what is happening in Nimule, Mundri, Yambio, Wonduruba etc. Does this show prevalence of peace or a state of war?

The Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) is supposed to be the saviour, but this unfortunately is now questionable given the glaring violations of its provisions by the government.

On the other hand the poor and ineffective leadership of Dr Riek Machar is not helping. The SPLM-IO has already committed serious blunders in the implementation process.

Peter Lokarlo in his article, ‘Firm Foundation first and the roof later, Mr Mogae,’ draws the attention of those concerned to the pitfalls ahead should they continue on this perilous path. http://www.southsudannation.com/firm-foundations-first-and-the-roof-later-mr-mogae/

Riek lackadaisically has given the government that created war with its own people and committed ethnic cleansing of its own people the upper hand in slicing the agreement apart.

Depressingly, the government appears to be operating a ‘violate-ARCISS-and-prevail’ strategy without any stiff opposition.

If Riek wants a positive outcome, he needs to wake up from his political slumber and use the mechanisms in ARCISS to hold the president and his acolyte to account. He needs to involve the guarantors at this stage because things are not looking good.

Otherwise this implementation process will be drawn out for a long period allowing President Kiir and the JCE to buy ruling time at the expense of the suffering of the people. There is a risk in this scenario.

The longer the implementation process takes time the more likely the international community becomes fatigued leading to its slow withdrawal with possibility of South Sudanese returning into all out civil war. Agreements not implemented in time often breakdown at the end.

So far the implementation of this agreement does not indicate South Sudan will see any meaningful reforms. The signs are that Riek and SPLM-IO are being conditioned to return to the fold with the tribal system returning to their ways of looting and misgovernance as usual.

All the destruction done by the SPLM including the killing of tenth of thousands of innocent people and the massive displacement of people is going to be sacrificed for SPLM unity and return to business as usual.

For those who have believed and thought Riek would be a saviour, they have another thing coming. Leopards do not change their skins.

SPLM’s unity means the repair of the Jieng broken down killing machine. It means South Sudanese are again empowering the Jieng to continue with their abuse of the state. If the other 62 tribes of South Sudan want to see peace in South Sudan they had better walk away from this monster called the SPLM.

This horrible organisation only benefits the Jieng and their informers. It is of no benefit whatsoever to South Sudan. Leave it to the Jieng and join your fellow countrymen in the other parties to realise a democratic peaceful South Sudan.

Contrary to what South Sudan Television Station preaches, the unity of SPLM is not a unity of South Sudanese people. It is the empowerment of the Jieng and it will not bring peace. It will bring more catastrophes with Jieng oppression.

So what does this mean to Equatoria in context of peaceful life? Will it stop the constant disruptions of life in Equatoria such as in Lobonok? Unfortunately not.

The pattern of Jieng aggression in Equatoria since 2005 has been consistent with support of the government. For example, the Jieng invasion and occupation of Nimule and the irresponsible utterance of the former Minister of Interior Aleu Ayeny Aleu.

The Jieng invasion of Mundri etc with the latest being Lobonok suggest the Jieng have a strategy to establish settlements in Equatoria to realise their objective of “born to rule” through promotion of chaos and instability.

It must be remembered that the Jieng are known for displacing peaceful communities deliberately to acquire land. For example, Tonj originally was a Bongo land. The Jieng encroached on it and wrestled it away from the Bongo people forcing most of them to relocate to Central African Republic.

The Jieng themselves are victims of displacement. It is possible that they learnt this behaviour from the Arabs who displaced them forcefully from Shendi all the way to Khartoum in the Sudan to their present locations.

Their latest experience is Abyei. The present area demarcated as Abyei is less than 20 percent of the original Abyei which includes Muglad and Meiram. This Arab land grab is done in day light with the so-called “born to rule” being completely paralysed. Now they are transferring what has been done on them on the Equatorians.

Therefore, the disruption of normal life in Equatoria consistently and persistently appears to be designed to breakdown the social, economic and political structures of the various social groups to weaken them in order to allow the Jieng to settle and install themselves as the rulers.

So the ongoing chaos is done to create a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Such feeling is part of a process of achieving subjugation of the people.

Central to this feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is the absence of community leadership. With Equatorian leaders of all levels frequently being eliminated, people find themselves voiceless, demoralised and hopeless.

In effect, what the Jieng are doing is that they are normalising chaos in order to condition the people in Equatoria to accept the unacceptable as normal while at the same time constructing a new culture where they as holders of power are by default accommodated in their new conquests and colonies.

Crucially it must be noted that in all the chaos going on in Equatoria, the Jieng do not feel the negativity of all the horrible things they are doing to the Equatorians. To the contrary they feel good and they like it which motivates them to carry on.

This is why President Kiir and the JCE do not see any need for a genuine reform and peaceful co-existence. It was not for nothing when both Dr John Garang and Mr Ambrose Riing Thiik (the chairman of the Jieng Council of Elders) in the Rumbek meeting of 2004 argued against any reforms in SPLM/A.

Garang said, “Our imperfect structures have brought us (the Jieng) to the present day. Let us (the Jieng) not throw away these structures now, otherwise we will throw ourselves (Jieng) away.”

Ambrose concurred reinforcing the point by saying, “I want to say that a lot has been done by a few. Most of the things done are imperfect, but they have served us (Jieng).”

Note the structures being referred to here are the SPLM/A and the state of chaos in the country. If you are an Equatorian or a non-Jieng, ask yourself as to why you should support these structures.

In a nutshell, the real problem in South Sudan is the SPLM/A because it is the vehicle through which the Jieng drive their tribal agenda of land grab and supremacist ideas.

Therefore, the logical thing to do if you are an Equatorian or a non-Jieng is to quietly detach yourself from this Jieng machine of terror and join the other parties.

If you do this, you will have played a big role in beginning your own emancipation, the emancipation of Equatoria and the emancipation of South Sudan.

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

Elhag Paul elhagpaul@aol.com

President Kiir and Dr. Machar 2nd Presidency: A Return to Business as Usual

By Tong Kot Kuocnin, LLB, LLM, Advocate, FEB/19/2016, SSN;

After eight years of president Kiir’s and Dr. Machar’s presidency, an unexpected political storm swept through the government of the Republic of South Sudan in July 2013 causing flu to the untouchable oligarchs who have controlled virtually everything from cleaners to the Ministers.

This political storm caused the political honeymoon that had existed for the last eight years between president Kiir and Dr. Machar to cease.

With the peace agreement signed by the parties to the conflict, Dr. Machar made his way back to the presidency for the second time since his dismissal in July 2013 which caused the nation to slip back to war in December same year.

Now, with president Kiir and Dr. Machar back to the same room with all their old wolves-in-sheepskin where their political honeymoon ended, what business are they going to carry out?

Is the yesterday’s devil that became an angel in the dawn, having cleansed themselves through peace agreement, has all it takes to fight rising cases of corruption in the government, implement all reforms, and break the yoke of nepotism and tribalism which has infiltrated the system?

The answer is both negative and affirmative. Negative in sense that the group that is coming back as Angel Gabriel was part and parcel of the old house which had housed all corrupt officials for the last eight years.

They were the lead architects in all acts leading to corruption, nepotism and tribalism of the highest order. It was because they were chased out of the house of corruption, nepotism and tribalism that they caused havoc and turmoil so that they can come back to the same house which they managed to get.

They are not angels as the few imprudent thought to them be. They are accomplices in all that had befallen on South Sudan.

Affirmative in the sense that the group will fight harder and harder to make sure that in order to cleanse themselves of all dirt, they must minimize corruption, nepotism and tribalism.

For them having a clean political card in 2018 isn’t easy and must begin with swearing in of their representatives. I know it not easy to eradicate corruption for they themselves would first quench their thirsty as the heat of the last 21 months has not been easy and has to be replaced.

If the opposition is realistic with the people of South Sudan but not wolves in sheep’s skin, they must begin to do away with nepotism this time because the last eight years Dr. Machar spent as VP were marred by a lot of nepotism and tribalised settings as manifested by the set up of his last office as VP when you hear no any other language in his office but Thok Nath (Nuer language).

Where many who had visited his office those times felt as if they were in one of the sultan’s of Nath office not VP’s office. This is nepotism and tribalism of the highest order.

That office represents and symbolizes the nation not tribes and whoever is seated in it is a symbol of the nation not a tribal leader.

The same to the office of the president, South Sudanese must see themselves there not only the two tribes (Dinka and Nuer).

However, with return of Dr. Machar as 1st VP and the widest gap of the social cohesion which has been created by the conflict coupled with political hatred between the president and his 1st deputy, not much is expected to be done as both of them will or might not listen to one another and either side will work for the disgrace and downfall of the other.

If the two parties are bogged down and always at political loggerhead, corruption will take its toll and a return to war on the widest scale would be an inevitable option for the defeated group.

This government will deliver nothing, nothing at all because what they have all failed to do in eight years can’t be done in 30 months.

It is just a return to business as usual because the parties will just sit indignantly as they did in the last eight years and divide the resources of the nation together and if these resources are equitably divided amongst themselves then fine, no war.

But if one party took more than the other, war surely will ensue.

This is just a break to continue the war but the worse will surface again in 2018 for nobody, no any party especially the warring parties that have just signed peace will not accept the outcome of the elections especially if the results point to defeat of either party.

This is just a containment of war for a while but let’s wait for 2018 for Dr. Riek will continuously cheat innocent Nuers to fight on his behalf on the pretext that the Dinka have killed, marginalized, and oppressed Nuer people whom he claims to rightfully inherit power as prophesied by Ngundeng.

This is the tactic he employed to mobilize his mass support from the Nuer community since 1991 and he did the same in 2013, both of which he succeeded to cling to power at their expense.

The ball is at the court of the opposition to tell South Sudanese that indeed they were part of the government that has squandered and looted billions of money for themselves and their immediate families and that they want to pay back the people of South Sudan through maintenance of peace, stability, human rights protection, good governance and strict adherence to the rule of law not of man anymore.

But otherwise, president Kiir and Dr. Machar 2nd presidency is a return to business as usual where looting of public resources on an unprecedented scale will be the order of the day. Wish you success in all your endeavours Mr. Opposition.

Tong Kot is a Master of Laws (LLM) Candidate at the School of Law, University of Nairobi. He specializes in Law, Governance and Democracy. He can be reached via: tongbullen@gmail.com

Kiir to form interim government Friday despite Machar’s absence

By Joseph Oduha, TheEastAfrican, posted Tuesday/16/2016;

According to reports, President Kiir is expected to announce a government of 16 ministers, including two former detainees and two additional ones from other political parties other than Dr Machar’s faction if its leader declines to honor a seven-day ultimatum to return to the country.

Machar named First VP, but won’t return yet: South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir will go ahead and announce a transitional government of national unity on Friday despite his rival Riek Machar’s unwillingness to travel to Juba.

However, the South Sudan-based lobby Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation’s executive director, Mr Edmund Yakani, told a news conference in Juba Monday that an interim administration without Dr Machar poses doubts as to whether the parties to the peace agreement were ready to honour the peace or not.

The opposition leader has conditioned his return on the demilitarisation of Juba and integration of police units.

This, according to him, was as per the peace deal signed by the two principals.

Last week Dr Machar, who is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also appealed to the international community to help transport his 3,000 security personnel to the capital in readiness for their integration into the joint police force.

The same week, the government had identified some locations for Dr Machar’s forces to be stationed in.

Mr Yakani urged the parties to speed up security arrangements and avoid any inconveniences that delayed the implementation of the peace.

“If the partners to the peace agreement can move faster in implementing the peace, this means a lot to the lives of the innocent citizens that are suffering in due to the absence of the peace,” he stressed.

Dr Machar has already been designated the First Vice-President ahead of the inauguration of the new transitional government. END

Personal, ideological and geopolitical issues stand in way of peace in Juba

By John Gachie, TheEastAfrican, Saturday, Feb/13/2016, SSN;

IN SUMMARY: What political vehicle of mobilisation will the two men have for what will undoubtedly be the most hotly contested political showdown between them in 2018?

It’s just a numbers game and power-play, who’s fooling who?

Political and military posturing and covert plans to outwit each other characterise the relationship between the two principals in the South Sudan conflict — President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar — in spite of their public and diplomatic declarations of peace and reconciliation.

These positions taken by the two comrades-turned-rivals betray deep-seated antagonism going back to their military days, competing ethnic leanings and regional and international geostrategic imperatives.

In short, the two principals are as different as day and night: They can co-exist, but cannot cohabit; they can share the same environment but cannot share the same space — for there is no space big enough for both them.

They repel each other despite the strong magnetic pull exacted by their friends, allies and enemies to bring them together.

That is the crux of the matter in the current South Sudan tragedy.

Dr Machar is a genial, highly educated and highly ambitious political and military man, a shrewd operative with the gift of the gab. He is articulate, suave and very mercurial in planning, with one consuming ambition: To lead at the top.

He believes that he is a child of destiny. That he will not be denied what the gods have so ordained.

President Kiir is a sombre, somewhat dull, if not inscrutable introvert not given to wearing his emotions on his sleeve. But he is nonetheless a brave military man with a wicked sense of humour that belies a sharp and nimble mind. He honed his skills through decades spent in the bush waging war against a far superior enemy, with a larger-than-life leader, the late John Garang.

President Kiir does not suffer fools gladly. He is stoic, calculating, highly informed and vicious when the occasion so demands. He is certainly no pushover.

The man does not give away his thoughts easily, rarely shows his hand, never thumps his chest and always has an ace up his sleeve.

Now, as we await the consummation of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, will the two rivals deliver comprehensive and sustainable peace, or will theirs be a short marriage akin to the one in Angola between Jonas Savimbi and Eduardo dos Santos in the 1990s? Never mind that President Kiir reappointed Dr Machar as his First vice president last week, as part of the peace deal. Prior to the conflict, he was vice president.

South Sudan and Angola have an uncanny similarity. The bush war never fully addressed the personality, ideological and ethnic chasm; neither party initially enjoyed military and geographical dominance; and each principal enjoyed regional and international patronage and support, albeit not publicly.

In the case of South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Troika (US, Britain and Norway) and other Western countries are more sympathetic to Dr Machar, while Uganda supports President Kiir. Kenya is torn between the two, with the business community more amenable to President Kiir. The African Union is almost held hostage by both while Russia and China openly favour President Kiir on account of oil.

Egypt, India and Malaysia are inclined towards the president due to commercial, energy and mineral wealth interests.

For Sudan, the Juba conflict is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, although the defeat or capitulation of Dr Machar would not augur well for President Omar al-Bashir’s relationship with Juba, and more importantly in the on-going conflict in Darfur and eastern Sudan.

Ethiopian link:

For Ethiopia, it is another classic dilemma, because it has large ethnic groups related to and involved in the conflict in South Sudan on its southwestern border with South Sudan.

In the Angolan scenario, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and Namibia provided the same geopolitical impetus, including large cross-border ethnic groups; thereupon the Cold War dynamics came into play, while diamonds and oil played a role as well.

Though they are over 5,000 kilometres apart, Angola’s Eduado dos Santos and Salva Kiir are similar, likewise Dos Santos’s nemesis, the late Dr Jonas Savimbi and South Sudan’s Dr Machar.

The question now is, will President Kiir see the red line in terms of consolidation, retention and hoarding of executive powers?

For Dr Machar, what are his immediate gains? What are his guarantees that his hold on the movement and in particular the motley military groups that comprise his force will remain loyal to him?

More fundamentally, what guarantees does he get that his political support group will not be dismantled once he joins the government?

What guarantees does he get for his personal safety and what executive powers will he exercise to keep his team in line?

What political vehicle of mobilisation will the two men have for what will undoubtedly be the most hotly contested political showdown between them in 2018?

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), to which they all pledge loyalty, has split into three in all but name.

One would just hope that the two principals in the South Sudan crisis are not tempted to engage in brinkmanship. END