Category: National

LATEST: Kiir’s Govt. declares famine in parts of war-torn South Sudan

By AFP, FEB/20/2017;

IN SUMMARY:
*** The famine classification is according to an internationally recognised sliding scale of hunger in which an extreme lack of food has lead to starvation and death.
*** According to the joint press statement, the number of people facing hunger is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the spread of the food crisis.
*** While the famine in South Sudan is man-made, millions more across the Horn of Africa are going hungry due to a devastating drought following two failed rainy seasons.

President Kiir’s South Sudan’s government said Monday that more than three years of war have led to famine in parts of the nation, a tragedy aid agencies criticised as “man-made”.

Isaiah Chol Aruai, the chairman of South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics, said some parts of the northern Greater Unity region “are classified in famine, or… risk of famine”.

A joint press statement from aid agencies said 100,000 people were affected by the famine, which threatened another one million people in the coming months.

“A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted more than three years ago,” said the statement signed by the World Food Programme (WFP), UN children’s agency UNICEF and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, was engulfed by civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

An August 2015 peace deal was left in tatters when fighting broke out in Juba in July last year.

Violence — initially between ethnic Dinka supporters of Kiir and ethnic Nuer supporters of Machar — has since spread to other parts of the country, engulfing other ethnic groups and grievances.

The United Nations has warned of potential genocide and ethnic cleansing, and there is no prospect of peace in sight.

Humanitarians under attack

Unity State, a traditional Nuer homeland and birthplace of Machar, has been one of the flashpoints in the conflict.

“The convergence of evidence shows that the long term effects of the conflict coupled with high food prices, economic crisis, low agricultural production and depleted livelihood options” have resulted in 4.9 million people going hungry, Aruai said.

That figure represents 42 per cent of the country’s population.

The famine classification is according to an internationally recognised sliding scale of hunger in which an extreme lack of food has lead to starvation and death.

“The main tragedy of the report that has been launched today… is that the problem is man-made,” said Eugene Owusu, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan.

“The underlining drivers have been there for some time and we have all known that we have a major food crisis.”

He said conflict and insecurity for humanitarian workers, who had suffered attacks while carrying out their work, and the looting of “humanitarian assets” had exacerbated the crisis.

“I would like to use this opportunity to call on the government, the warring parties and all actors to support humanitarians to provide the necessary access so we can continue to bring lifesaving services to those in need,” he said.

Agriculture disrupted

According to the joint press statement, the number of people facing hunger is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the spread of the food crisis.

“Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said FAO Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot.

“The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”

While the famine in South Sudan is man-made, millions more across the Horn of Africa are going hungry due to a devastating drought following two failed rainy seasons.

Famine early warning system FEWSNET has warned that if 2017 rains were again poor in Somalia — as forecast — “famine would be expected.”

Peace can’t be imposed but a home-grown concept: The case of South Sudan

By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Lawyer, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/12/2017, SSN;

In most of the African countries that have been at war for a very long time, peace remained elusive. This is because peace and development have proved far more difficult and complex to achieve than the Afro-optimists envisaged in the immediate post-independence period, owing to a range of domestic and external factors (see; Peace & Conflict in Africa edited by David J. Francis).

Externally, Africa is perceived as a continent stricken by wars, poverty, perpetual political instability and armed conflicts, unrelenting economic crises, famines and diseases. Because of that the external powers who try to bring peace to Africa see it as hopeless continent, which prompts their decision to impose the peace as they understand it.

Consequently, they end imposing what is called Liberal Peace Project Tradition, in which peace building is understood in term of intervention designed to facilitate the establishment of durable peace and prevent the recurrence of violence. Such intervention as it has been observed by some writers peacekeeping, peace support operations, disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The above approach is contrary to African indigenous peace approach and explains the reason why the peace has remained a mere dream in Africa. This is due to the fact that the peace is not people centred. Instead, it is externally driven, which turns to favour two parties to the conflict or strong party and the third parties who attempt to satisfy their own interests at the expenses of the citizens of the country by imposing the peace as they understand it.

In that respect, peace becomes an alien concept to the people and consequently people do not own it. Hence, the chances of the peace collapsing easily are very high due to the failure to involve citizens in the peace making process.

What those trying to bring peace in Africa and in particular South Sudan fail to understand is the importance of the involvement of the people in the peace process, which is supposed to give rise to the new constitution. Such a constitution like the Compromised Peace Agreement of 2015 can only stand the test of time if it were people centred.

However, as it was the constitution between the two warring parties, which did have support from the citizenry, the main consequence was the failure of that Agreement to achieve peace to greater extent.

To complicate the matters, those who want to bring peace in South put criminal justice above peace based on an argument that without justice there will be no peace. Whereas, the argument of that kind may be correct in other developed or western countries, in South Sudan typical criminal justice may not be desirable in bringing peace for a simple reason.

The reason being that criminal justice does not promote reconciliation as it only deals with punishment. In a country like South Sudan, if punishment is considered as the only way of bringing peace by deterring the war perpetrators as many are proposing, I am afraid that the peace will never be achieved in South Sudan.

Why? Because peace is value-driven and people respect peace when they are psychologically satisfied that there is peace. For that purpose, it is important to digress a bit in defining and explaining the word “peace” before I advance my argument as to why the peace makers should not much concentrate on criminal justice, peacekeeping or on the removal of the government, instead they should promote reconciliation and South Sudanese traditional justice as a means of bringing peace.

The peace cannot be defined in the context of South Sudan but it can only be described based on customs and cultures of South Sudanese communities who need peace as their concept of peace is latent with the concept of justice.

For that reason, peace can only be achieved when specific conditions that sparked off the war in the first place are understood or the culture that the war emanates from is analyzed properly.

It is for that reason the peace in Africa and in particular South Sudan should be understood to emanate from the values of South Sudanese who think that such values emanate from both God and human beings.

Hence, peace is a spiritual and moral value located in the religious belief systems of the people of Africa as handed down from one generation to another (see; Peace & Conflict in Africa. ibid), which is very true in South Sudan.

Peace in the concept of Africans and South Sudanese in particular unlike the West which is based on prosperity and order, it is based on morality and order (see; ibid). This is the reason the death penalty never existed in most of the traditional African societies except those states that were ruled by Kings.

The reason the death penalty did not exist in most part of Africa is that the concept of justice was not based on the concept of individuality as it existed in the West. Rather, it was perceived in term of the communities and because of that a crime was seen as committed against the community but not individual.

Hence, when it comes to justice it was perceived in term of community justice but not individual as it exists under the criminal justice system.

Thus, it is important to understand the fact that when dealing with the issue of peace in South Sudan, the peace makers should not rely much on few educated elites and politicians because they are hybrid individuals who have mixed ideas and concepts about true values of South Sudanese as they do not understand them properly.

Because of that they struggle to see the alien concept of criminal justice imposed on South Sudanese.

The assertion I have just made in the above paragraph can be explained by the fact that majority of South Sudanese elites who acquired education from Khartoum, East Africa and the Western World do not have a clear understanding of what the true values of South Sudanese rural people are.

Moreover, the politicians of South Sudan have also failed to understand the values of the rural South Sudanese because of their personal interests. Majority of these politicians are not interested in achieving lasting peace as it is in their interests to see that their political opponents are punished through legitimate means such as courts so that they get an opportunity to get to power.

The above facts are the basis for various politicians such as the G10, SPLA/M-IO and the politicians in the government of South Sudan struggling to defeat each other so that their opponents are chased away from power or are kept far away from power or completely prohibited from taking power. The implication of the struggle for power is that the legitimate desire of South Sudanese is ignored.

The legitimate desire in South Sudan is to see that peace prevails. In fact, if the government and the opposition were genuinely interested in bringing peace to South Sudan, they would have compromised and the peace would have been achieved already, which is not possible now because of conflicting interests and loyalties exhibited by the main actors.

As I have already pointed out above that the concept of peace in Africa is based on morality and order, such understanding of peace has been the major factor that held South Sudanese together throughout the liberation struggle.

This is because they can easily come together to forgive and chart the way forward. For example, Nuer and Dinka people had never always been at peace with each other but every time they fought they could come together as members of one family and reconciled and then lived as before.

However, it is very difficult this time because the political opportunists on both sides have found a new trick of how to retain the power through war and to continue fighting for it. Besides, they are not ready to go into compromise to bring peace as their respective aims are to ensure that either of the side is defeated: a “cattle keeping mentality” coupled with politics.

I have mentioned words “cattle keeping mentality” above because the two parties are fighting like cattle keepers not people in charge of the nation. In cattle camp, for instance, there is no compromise as once the fighting has begun the two parties to the conflict will not compromise, which is disincentive to the nation building and unity.

Compromise is the first virtue in the nation building as interest of the nation must always be above the interest of any person. Thus, where the interest of an individual obstructs the national interest then the interest of the nation must prevail.

This is the basis for which some leaders resigned sometime back as it was seen in the case of Mubarak of Egypt and the President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 respectively who resigned from power because the future of their countries was at stake.

The recent example of Romania’s Prime Minister, Sorin Mihai Grindeanu, who passed decrees exempting decriminalizing little corruption and initially refused to repeal those decrees that critics said would free corrupt officials from jail early and shield others from conviction, despite international condemnation and the biggest popular protests since the fall of communism.

However, when he saw that his action was going to destroy the national unity he accepted the demand of the people to repeal the decree that was passed to decriminalize small corruption. This is the spirit the country like South Sudan wants.

I have labored so far to explain how the search for peace in South Sudan should be rooted in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise and in that respect the peace process should be based on the concept of peace as known by rural people not politicians and intellectuals who are concerned with power only.

The peace process should be based on traditional concept of peace among traditional South, which is based on the method of conflict resolution like any other African societies which is guided by the principle of consensus, collective responsibility and communal solidarity (see; Peace & Conflict in Africa edited by David J. Francis at page 113).

In summary, my argument is that in order to achieve lasting peace, national dialogue should the only way forward in South Sudan because peace is a product of dialogue achieved through mutual trust and understanding. It cannot be imposed externally.

The international community should take over the current “national dialogue” to make it national and neutral in character. In its current form, it is not national dialogue. The international community should also be tough on those who are fighting yet there is a dialogue in the process.

In terms of justice, restorative justice should be adopted to ensure that the victims and the offenders are brought together to mediate a restitution agreement to the satisfaction of each, as well as involving the community. This is different from criminal justice that aims at retributive justice, which is punitive and does not heal the community.

NB//: the author is the lawyer residing in Uganda and can be through: juoldaniel@yahoo.com; or +256783579256

What’s a Bad Law: A Commentary on Gok State Taxation Act, 2016

By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/04/2017, SSN;

A bad law refers to: a law that is oppressive; a law that causes injustice; dumb laws, which are particularly bizarre; a law that is erroneous or a law where an attempted statement of the law is inaccurate or non-law.

In relation to the Taxation Act 2016 of Gok State that imposes 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer, it is a bad law as it is oppressive; it causes injustice, it is dumb law, which is particularly bizarre and its proposition is erroneous as its attempted statement of the law is inaccurate or non-law.

In addition, the Gok State Taxation Act is one of the bad laws because it imposes burden on citizens of Gok State who do not have the source of income as they are struggling to make both ends meet or in other words to survive.

The authorities of State must know that the people of Gok State need support from the government not the government to tax them as seen above. The Taxation Act of Gok State does not follow the role of tax law in general and in Gok State in particular.

The role of taxation law in Gok State is to encourage hard work in a way that those who idly sit under trees all days should be taxed in order to force them to pay taxes that will make them go and work and as soon as they work then they should not be taxed unless they have surplus for sell as a result of their work.

In doing that, the conflict will be minimized as everybody will be struggling to work in order to pay taxes to the government. In addition, the taxation should be governed by the principle of taxation.

A taxation law must put into consideration four principles that are: the system should be efficient, understandable and equitable and those who benefit from publicly-provided services should sponsor and pay for those services through taxes. This means that the government officials should be the one to pay taxes as they benefit from the services of the government but not the poor people in rural areas of Gok State who do not have access to services provided by the government.

Above all and in relation to the above paragraph, the taxation should be determined by a person’s ability to pay, which means that wealthier people should pay more taxes because they are able to do so. This specific principle is also known as a flat tax rate. For example, a tax of 10 percent would have far less of an impact on a person who makes a million dollars a year than on someone who makes $10,000.

However, the Taxation Act of Gok State of 2016 that imposes 1000 SSP, three tins of durra and three tins of groundnut to be paid by a tax payer, is a burden to the Gok people as it is insensitive and it is just intended by the law makers to destroy the communities through turning them into begging population as the taxation law makes them poor.

What the authorities in Gok State must understand is that the taxation law should not be made a means of making people poor on the ground that the government needs revenues. The law should help people to become rich not poor.

People in Gok State are generally poor as they depend on their educated people or their relatives living abroad. Hence, the question is if they are able to get such resources as demanded by the authorities then why should they bother their brothers and sisters from abroad to help them?

In short, such a law was enacted in bad faith as it is absurd since it defeats logic and common sense. It is simply unfair and unjust and citizens must unite to raise this issue before the governor. It is against the purpose of tax law.

The main purpose of taxation is to ensure income distribution so that the rich pay more than poor. Therefore, the tax policy and objective should be the resource allocation. The second objective should be income redistribution, which means that the tax law should be able to lessen inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth.

Above all, the objective of tax should be the stabilization of economy which is implemented through tax policy, government expenditure policy, monetary policy, and debt management. In fact, debt management ensures maintaining high employment and price stability.

The foregoing discussion points to the one fact that the Gok State Taxation Act, 2016 falls short of the above recognized principles of taxation law and because of that there is a need for amendment because it is making citizens poorer instead of helping them to achieve economic development.

Thus, the youth leader, Abraham Ater Dut Dong, who was arrested in Gok State because of appealing to the state Governor to initiate the amendments of the Taxation Act 2016 as Radio Tamazuj reported (in the Article entitled: Gok youth leader in detention over opposition to taxation bill published on its site on February 2, 2017) is right and should not have been arrested or even rebuked because it is the role of the youth in civilized society to fight against injustices.

One of the worst things in this world, worse than death is tax injustices, which mean taxing, people which providing them with services equivalent to the taxes they pay. In such a situation, the people have all rights to fight such taxation injustices, which include appealing to the authorities to reconsider their tax policy.

Thus, Governor of Gok State, Hon. Madhang Majok as I know is the governor of the people of Gok State as people elected him before he was appointed and the people have right to appeal to him without being arrested if the administration and taxation law in particular are unjust to them.

The Youth Leader whose name has been referred to above that was arrested because of appealing to the governor of Gok State about that bad Taxation Act was arrested illegally as it is contrary to the constitution of South Sudan.

The reason being that he has not committed any offence and the Commissioner of Wat Adol County, Hon. Makuer Majuec’s statement that he would be taken to court for investigation does not have any basis in law and the Court should set him at liberty.

In summary, the Taxation law of Gok State is a typical bad law, an absurd law and an exploitative law that should not be implemented. The SPLM authorities at higher level must intervene to amend the law in question as it defeats the policy of development which underscores the policy of taking the town to people and if the authorities fail to do that then the citizens of Gok area have all rights to ask the President of the Republic of South Sudan to take town back to town and leave people of Gok alone.

NB//The Author is the Concern Human Rights lawyer from Gok State and residing in Kampala Uganda and can be reached through: +256783579256 or email: juoldaniel@yahoo.com

Bombardment of Innocent Shilluk Civilians by the Kiir’s Juba Regime

THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT (NDM), 28th January, 2017, Press Release;

The National Democratic Movement (NDM) would like to inform and alert the region and the international community about the on-going killing and maiming of innocent Chollo civilians in the (Shilluk Kingdom) by the genocidal and
dictatorial regime of Kiir Mayardit using Antonov plane.

Last night, an Antonov plane belonging to the regime in Juba, dropped bombs on the civil population in Choll (Shilluk) villages of Pamath, Ogod and Wau. Large number of civilians were wounded, some of them very seriously.

This callous and cowardly targeting of innocent unarmed civilians by the bankrupt dictatorial regime must be condemned in the strongest terms possible by all and the concerned countries in the region and beyond should join hands to stop the unfolding carnage.

It is to be recalled that in the last three days, the regime’s forces have been battling the Agwelek forces around Bukieny, opposite Malakal airport west of the White Nile. These are the forces that rejected the deal reached by some of their leaders to abandon the struggle for Chollo land, and join the Bantustans of the regime.

It is worth mentioning that Chollo (Shilluk) land east of the Nile was grabbed by Salva Kiir in 2015 and gave it to his kith and kin, the Dinkas, through his decree that divided the country into 28 states.

Most recently, and as a result of underhand dealings with some weak-knee elements, Kiir’s Bantustans were increased to 32 hoping that the trick would go unnoticed by the gallant Chollo (Shilluk) fighters. This was not to be.

As a result, the regime unleashed its troops on the oppositions of the forces opposed to the deal. Bukieny was the most ideal for them to be used as a bridgehead to attack the civilian centres at Wau-Shilluk and beyond.

The National Democratic Movement (NDM) condemns this sinister action by the regime in Juba and renews its call for an arm embargo on the regime so it does not acquire more deadly weapons against its own people.

The Antonov plane used last night to bomb innocent civilians is a new acquisition by the regime.

We also call upon the United Nations Security Council, especially its humanitarian’s agencies to immediately come to the rescue of civilians in Shilluk Kingdom. Time is of the essence.

Long live the struggle of our People
Long live South Sudan
A luta continua

Amb. Emmanuel Aban
For/ the Spokesman,
The National Democratic Movement (NDM)
Email: ojwokj@hotmail.com

Who authorized the Killing of Detainees at Mabur-Zeed Detention Center in Yirol?

By: Tong Kot Kuocnin, Tong Law Chambers, Juba, JAN/20/2017, SSN;

When the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for an independent State, the choice of life over death, it was a choice made as to what kind of future we and the generation to come will enjoy, it was a choice made that we and our offsprings will have a life of freedom, justice and equal rights for all.

This, however, is not the case in Yirol. This hope has been dashed away by the inhumane acts perpetrated on the innocent and vulnerable persons whose freedom and liberties have been unlawfully and arbitrarily restrained.

Mabur-Zeed detention center in Yirol is such an illegal detention center in which most devastating, cruel, degrading and inhumane acts are being meted on the prisoners on daily basis.

As the title of this article suggests, not only did the authorities in Yirol authorized and ordered arbitrary and indefinite detention, incommunicado detention, intimidations and extortion which are common practices, beatings and torture are quite taking a toll as an order of the day.

But most heinous of all, the government ordered a shoot-to-kill on five (5) detainees without any proper due process of the law. The five (5) detainees were shot dead on the orders of the governor of the state in which one (1) died on spot, two (2) died lying on the ground around the detention center as they were refused any medical attention on the orders of the governor.

Worst still, the bodies of the other two (2) detainees were found floating on the waters of Lake Yirol, having been shot and left at the river-bank. This is the state of human rights in Yirol.

Yirol that was hoped by all to be the most peaceful, loving and respectful and the one that is said to be most stable, secured and would rapidly get developed among the 28 states, unfortunately is in complete pain of human rights abuses and violations.

In this part of the world, we’re being subjected to arbitrary, indefinite and incommunicado detention; and we’re being extorted and intimidated on daily basis if one speaks out on matters that concern the wellbeing and welfare of the state and its people and at certain point being killed.

Who authorized the killing of detainees at Mabur-Zeed detention center in Yirol?

Obviously, there’s just no any other person more superior in that particular part of the world other than the governor himself. Reports from most reliable sources and most truth-worthy verified information proved that it was indeed the governor himself who ordered the killings of the detainees under the pretext that they’re thieves who deserve not to live but be killed like chickens.

It was reported too from the close associated circles and right-hand people who fenced the governor that it was the same governor who refused the medics to attend to the badly injured detainees until they died of their gunshot wounds lying on the ground in Mabur-Zeed detention facility.

What kind of leadership is this? This practice of incessant violation of the individual’s rights amounts to a blatant violation of the provisions of article 11 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011, which guaranteed that every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person which shall be protected by law; and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.

Not only that, continued indefinite and incommunicado detention of uncharged detainees is a clear violation of the spirit of article 12 of the TCSS, 2011, which as well stipulates that every person has the right to liberty and security of person; no person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction of his or her liberty except for specified reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law.

A lot is desired to be said here. As the state authorities beginning with the governor himself have no any idea of what it means to observe tripartite principles of the rule of law, respect for human rights and dignity of the person as well as good governance, the law continued to be kept at bay and rights continued to be violated with impunity.

This is the case of detainees at Mabur-Zeed detention center who are subjected to torture on daily basis which violates the provisions of article 18 of the TCSS, 2011, which guarantees that no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

Who does this law protect really? The worst of all is the violation of the right to life which is strictly prohibited under article 21(1) of the TCSS, 2011, that no death penalty shall be imposed, save as punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law.

Nobody should be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life whatsoever the case. I wish the governor has a wise legal advisor to give him tips on how to deal with people who have come into contact with the law and those who are in conflict with the law, and if he does then I believe his legal advisor reads the law upside down or a fresh graduate who has no any idea of how to give wise legal advice concerning people who have come into contact with the law and those who’re in conflict with the law.

These are two different categories of people you’re dealing with on daily basis. It is however highly recommended that a fact-finding committee has to be constituted to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of these innocent detainees and a proper recommendation as to who is responsible for their death be made public and those responsible be made to answer for wrong doing.

The writer is a Barrister at Law at Tong Law Chambers and can reached at tongbullen@gmail.com

Message of unity and hope to all the Opposition political movements in South Sudan

BY: David Lokosang, JAN/14/2017, SSN;

My 2017 message to all opposition movements in South Sudan is, you have to unite and you must unite to bring to an end the suffering of our people sooner than later.

Operating separately doesn’t only prolong the current criminal dictatorial regime in Juba but it prolongs the suffering of our people who deserve the rights for equal opportunities as equal citizens of our nation.

Let us learn from our contemporary history. We have endured more suffering in our quest for freedom than any other citizens in the world. Let us revisit our history in order to correct ourselves and devise a way forward how to put concrete democratic institutions that will bound us together for common good.

When we were divided in 1991 the result was catastrophic but when we united our ranks we were able to defeat our enemies militarily, politically and diplomatically. And it is only then we were able to force the regime in Khartoum for a genuine political negotiation which resulted to CPA agreement.

The recent fighting that took place in Upper Nile which resulted in the death of two generals from Lam Akol’s movement, reminded us of 1991 split which won’t help our endeavour for social justice, equality, freedom of speech, equal opportunities and socio-economic development. Let it not repeat in other places in the greater Upper Nile, nor Equatoria nor Bahr El Ghazal.

What is it that each group wants? If the objective is to change the current rotten system and put in place a robust system of governance, then you must all unite for common objectives acceptable for all.

Believe me or not, operating separately gives a wrong signal to the international community, to our friends and more division among our people. They will look at us as fragmented tribes and power hungry people. It is not about individuals rather the system. Individuals come and go but a good system of governance and the solid democratic institutions will remain.

Every day I see the suffering of our people, the killing of innocent people orchestrated by JCE and the war lord elite in Juba and by unknown gunmen in the name of Transitional Government of National unity or National Dialogue or whatever name they give, make me sick and make me feel I have wasted my time in the last 36 years proclaiming the vision of SPLM which proved to be difficult to achieve under the shallow minded leadership of Salva Kiir.

Kiir and all those war lords around him have failed us and have retarded us 200 years back in human history.

My advice to all political movements in South Sudan, I believe it is reasonable enough to urge all of you to initiate a forum in order to create a South Sudan Democratic Alliance with common objective.

The objective is to remove the current rotten system of government and put in place an interim system that will create solid democratic institutions that recognise freedom of speech, justice and equality, Socio-economic opportunities, rule of law, international human rights and accountability.

The region and the international community will reckon you as the genuine alternative if you are united but if you are fragmented, believe me or not, you are indirectly prolonging the regime and the suffering of our innocent people.

Logically, how are you going to unite the country if you are fighting along tribal lines? You must propagate unity among the fighting force and civilians under your control areas which will then be reflected in the activities of the day when you become the legitimate government.

There is a Chinese saying that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Therefore you must unite your ranks now with one objective that is easily to be sold to the general public and the international community.

If you are not united, if you cannot inform, persuade and remind your supporters, international community and regional key players, how then would you succeed to achieve your objectives?

In business, no matter how good your products and service are, if you don’t inform and persuade the potential and current buyers about their features and benefits they will never buy from you. Instead they buy from someone who has invested in major promotional activities.

The reason why East African countries are closing doors for the opposition is because since the events of July 8th 2016, the opposition group has not consolidated itself to mobilise its human resources to counteract the lies being played by the regime propaganda machinery.

I hope 2017 will be a year of change. God bless all of you and God bless South Sudan

David Lokosang
lokosangdavid@yahoo.com.au

UK, Norway plan Doha meeting to restore Sudan Sudan peace talks

By FRED OLUOCH, JAN/10/2017, TheEastAfrican, SSN;

IN SUMMARY:
***Igad will only be an observer in Qatar where a deal to review the peace agreement is top on the agenda.
***The EastAfrican has learnt that the main agenda is to bring back rebel leader Riek Machar as a key partner in the peace talks.
***Kiir and Machar sides concur that the Aug 15 peace pact has broken down and needs renegotiation.

Two key sponsors of the South Sudan peace process are organising roundtable talks next month in Doha, Qatar, between the government, the rebel movement and other stakeholders to review the August 2015 Peace Agreement.

The talks being organised by two Troika members — United Kingdom and Norway, who have been the main funders of the peace talks together with the United States since the war broke out in December 2013 — are expected to begin in early February to look at the Peace Agreement and challenges facing its implementation.

The EastAfrican has learnt that the main agenda is to bring back rebel leader Riek Machar as a key partner in the peace talks.

The new efforts were initiated by the UK and Norway in conjunction with the African Union. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), which mediated the peace agreement, will be represented as an observer, but will not be an active participant.

This is because key Igad partner states such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, with the support of the US government, have actively participated in sidelining Dr Riek Machar after intensive lobbying by President Salva Kiir’s government. But the Troika feels that this has not improved security in South Sudan.

President Kiir’s government had declared that Dr Machar, who was replaced as first vice-president by Taban Deng Gai in August last year and is currently living in South Africa, should stay out of South Sudan and await the next elections, which is supposed to be held in 2018.

Mr Gai recently confirmed that regional countries have denied Dr Machar entry in their territories and he will be locked out for a foreseeable future.

The new initiative comes after both the government and the rebels concurred that the August 15 peace agreement had broken down – when war broke out again last July – and needs renegotiation.

But on December 14, President Kiir came up with the idea of a National Dialogue that will start at the grassroot. The rebel movement is sceptical about its success, especially without a permanent ceasefire.

Jimmy Deng, the South Sudan deputy ambassador to Kenya, said that the government is aware that Troika has initiated plans for fresh negotiations, but Juba is yet to be officially contacted on the issue.

Mr Deng, however, said that the government’s position is that there is no need for fresh negotiations because the August 2015 peace agreement is implemented.

“The National Dialogue Committee and top government officials are currently at the grassroots talking to people and promoting peace and national unity. We want the church leaders and chiefs to be involved because they represent the view of the grassroots, while the opposition is free to come back to the country because they have been given amnesty,” said Mr Deng.

President Kiir sacked Dr Machar from the Government of National Unity and replaced him with Mr Gai but this did not end the war.

Mr Gai’s biggest challenge is that he does not have sufficient following within the rebel movement to implement security arrangements such as the cantonment and the integration of soldiers from both sides as per the agreement.

Struggling to restructure

According to the latest report by the International Crisis Group, Mr Gai faces an uphill task to gain wider domestic credibility and bring armed opposition groups into the Government of National Unity.

The report says that since most cadres of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) rejected his elevation, the rebel movement, without an internationally recognised leader able to negotiate on its behalf, is struggling to restructure.

In the meantime, the government has been pushing for a military option.

The SPLM-IO presentative in Kenya Lam Jok said that the armed opposition is willing to dialogue with anybody anywhere, but first the security arrangement provision must be implemented if the talks are to bear fruit.

“Any efforts for peace, including the National Dialogue called by President Kiir, are good, but we must first silence the guns because you cannot talk while there is fighting,” said Mr Jok.

The SPLM-IO maintains that future talks should be preceded by the withdrawal of the Mathiang Anyor militias that fight alongside government forces, from the villages of Equatoria and Western Bharel Ghazal, where, according to UN Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide Adam Dieng, genocide looms.

Fighting has continued in the three Equatorias — West, Central and East — Bahrel Ghazal and of late in Upper Nile State, which had not experienced major fighting since the new conflict erupted in July 2016.

The United Nations Humanitarian Agency (OCHA) reported towards the end of December that the number of South Sudanese fleeing to Uganda continues to grow, with 3,046 new arrivals recorded daily from December 13.

President Kiir had proposed National Dialogue in three phases: Consultations at the grassroots to record grievances; regional peace conferences to discuss outstanding inter-communal conflicts; and the National Conference in Juba to come up with resolutions that would guide the country on the way forward.

But Dr Machar is proposing that the African Union and the international community support a new political process with a reviewed agreement to provide the roadmap for any national dialogue. END

Appointment of Gen. Gregory (Kiir’s in-law): The Question of Nepotism in South Sudan

By: Simon Yel Yel, JAN/09/2017, SSN;

It was on Tuesday, the 3rd of January, the first work day of 2017 when President Salva Kiir Mayardit inked the polemical appointment of Gen. Gregory Deng at J1. It was exactly the third day of the New Year and the New Year’s wishes were still fresh in everyone’s mind. With that appointment, President has controversially coloured the wishes of the New Year.

For some in Gogrial state (Pres. Kiir’s own state) who thought that 2016 was not fair to them economically and politically because of former governor Gum being in power, and they were wishing the New Year to come with many desirable items on its menu ranging from political to economical, I want to say congratulations!

President Kiir has served you with Gen. Gregory on gubernatorial plate as your best New Year wish on the 2017 political menu.

Maburuk! to those who tie their political fortunes to the political success of Gen. Gregory that, please, enjoy but don’t forget that there are many challenges lying ahead there and if you don’t work hard to maintain this seat by delivering what is expected of you to the people of Gogrial state, then be mindful what brought Gregory may take him away any time.

To those who are mourning the removal of Gum and thinking that it is the their end and a bad kick start of 2017, I want to tell them that, be strong, “PINY ATOU ALONG DET”… President Gives and President Takes!

Arguably, the appointment of Gen. Gregory as a governor for President’s home state has glimmered a lot of debate on social media. The appointment did not only draw mixed reactions from Gogrial state natives but throughout the country with some SPLM politicians, writers and analysts defining it in their own terms.

“I disagree sharply with the President’s decision to appoint his brother-in-law as the governor of Gogrial state. This decision is against the SPLM principle of equality and Justice; it is a clear sign of bad governance because this post is electable and any appointment can’t be done based on marital/social or any similar blood/favoritisms relations,” blasts Suzanne Jambo, former SPLM secretary for external affairs (now a opponent of the president).

Meanwhile, Agel Riing Machar, a senior member of SPLA-IO (Vice-president Taban’s faction) Military Council and a former youth leader, chipped in: “The debate should focus on his capability and track records rather than his relationship with the President. He is an excellence choice for the portfolio. The people of Gogrial state can benefit from his connections and influence at the National level as well as regionally and internationally in areas of business and governance.”

To define this appointment based on South Sudanese standard, there is no way that it would fit in any description rather than “nepotism” given the way we view things with our tribal or communal/sectional lenses where one’s relationship with an employer always triumphs one’s capability.

However, to define this appointment based on law, it is on “meritocracy.”

In America, when President John F. Kennedy appointed his younger brother, Robert, as an attorney General, some media pundits and analysts described the appointment as based on nepotism rather than on merits.

Robert Francis was argued to be under-qualified for the job because he was only 35 years old with a few years of legal service as legal counsel to two senate committees; however, with the backing of his brother, he passed the senate vetting.

“It is not simply good enough to name a bright young political manager, no matter how bright or how young or how personally loyal, to a major post in government”, the New York Times editorialized after the nomination.

A member of Senate later observed, “it was nepotism, I mean; he was the brother of the President”. Anthony Lewis, a veteran courts reporter said “though it was simply awful idea, Kennedy was a zealot with no understanding of the terrible responsibilities of an attorney General.”

After the assassination of President Kennedy, his successor, President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 was prompted by the appointment of Robert to lobby and sign into law a Nepotism statue prohibiting a President from appointing a family member.

Legally speaking, it is generally agreed among legal scholars that “Nepotism”, for purposes of the law, refers to the hiring and advancement of un- or under-qualified relatives simply by virtue of their relationship with an employer or officer. In other words, it’s only restricted if the appointee is not qualified for the position.

So, given how nepotism is viewed legally, and therefore could be argued in court, for the purpose of law, Gregory has both academic merits and experiences that can qualify him not only for gubernatorial portfolio but for any portfolio in Kiir’s government or in any other government to come.

The question of nepotism can be licit only if we have anti-nepotism law in our constitution like in the U.S.A and if he were under-qualified for the job. Unfortunately, with the absolute absence of such law as of now in our constitution, we can only objurgate the appointment made by any public officials such as the President, ministers, or governors as based on “nepotism” only if the appointee has no merits or under-qualified to claim that post.

It is also up to our legislators to legislate an anti-nepotism law if they see that the appointment of Gregory could possibly open a Pandora box of nepotism and may be of advantage to some corrupt public officials who might use it as an ambiguity to employ their unqualified relatives.

Therefore, it is upon our legislators whether to legislate it or not or the public should shut up feeble and incoherent arguments of fanciful articles in our constitution being infracted by the appointment of relatives by public officials.

Gregory didn’t become President’s brother-in-law in 2017 nor did he divulge his political ambitions to lead people (in various capacities) after Kiir assumed presidency.

Gregory got his first political assignment in 2002 by late Dr. John Garang as the first commissioner for Gogrial East County. He is brilliant, thoughtful, politically ambitious, undoubtedly articulate, and wondrously learned with good qualities of a leader; however, the history of defunct Warrap politics of “stabbing the back” and his previous records in commissionership office can be the best guide to foretell his success or failure, politically, socially, and security-wise.

He has his own political ambitions to achieve and he had laid bare his desire many times to be a governor of the defunct Warrap state before and after 2010 elections. In 2010, Gregory was among the three gubernatorial aspirants for Warrap state whose names were sent to SPLM political bureau in Juba for final nomination of one candidate to battle it out with other candidates in 2010 General Elections.

Unluckily, Gregory lost the nomination to Nyandeng Malek, however, he accepted the decision of political bureau and campaigned vigorously for Nyandeng to win the election. Sometimes later after her election, Gregory fell out with Nyandeng and joined the voices calling for her removal.

Debatably, with the election time remaining uncertain and the life span of the presidency that you can’t predict, Gregory had run out of long wait for General Election to contest but to lobby Gogrial community and other political deities to support him and convince the President that it is now a high time for Gregory to govern Gogrial state.

Gregory is an entity, a person with his own political ambitions different from Kiir’s and has a right to enjoy all the rights and privileges that every citizen in South Sudan is entitled to in our constitution; and it is unfair to divest him of these rights because of his mere relationship with the President.

Therefore, what matters the most is not how Gregory is related to the President but whether or not he has what it takes to be in that position; for example, does he have clear track records; does he understand the values and ideals of the state that he is going to govern; does he understand the urgent need of the people of Gogrial state; does he understand that he is now a politician and his high military ranks can’t immune him from being condemned if he does something wrong; does he understand that the military philosophy of “whatever your boss says is true” doesn’t work in politics; and does he understand that in politics, critics or dissents are not jailed, intimidated, prosecuted, or exiled, but are given freedom of expression and debate them with open mind and challenge them with your achievements?

In conclusion, Gregory has been looking for this job for so long and now he has it. It is incumbent on him to clearly spell and work out his programs why had he been after this job for so long.

Gregory must take this assignment as a full time job and prove it to all people that he has political agendas in mind to implement and he is capable of holding any other senior government position than gubernatorial post.

In fact, many rich politicians like him often go for politics to top up their richness with power while others go for politics to change the lives of their people. Whether is he going to top up his riches with power or transform the lives of the people of Gogrial state, only time will tell.

Mr. Governor, don’t smile too much, they will think otherwise; remember always, all eyes are on you!

Simon Yel Yel is co-editor (with Paanluel Wel) of the book of the President Kiir’ speeches and essential writings published in two volumes as “Salva Kiir Mayardit: The Joshua of South Sudan”
He can be reached at maandeng2017@gmail.com or +211914474471

Is the President’s Speech on National Dialogue Initiative a Divine Intervention to Salvage South Sudan from Its Total Collapse?

BY: Juma Mabor Marial (Mr.) LLB, MA (Humanitarian & Conflict Studies), Advocate, DEC/22/2016, SSN;

Just like many other South Sudanese citizens who have been victims of bad governance and greedy politics in this country, I had given up every little hope that I had for this country coming back to stability but when I criticized my decision, I came to realize that hope is the last thing a human being should let go in their life if they aspire to live longer than the present challenges.

Due to this self-criticism, I became optimistic that despite the bad situation our country is in now, things will one day change for the better. This desire seemed to manifest itself in different ways and one of them is the recent speech by the President during the launching of the National Dialogue Initiative.

I have never been a fan of President’s speeches since most of them are cut and paste and are only usually given as occasional gifts without matching them with actions and follow-up.

The case in point is when in several platforms the president talks about “Zero-Tolerance to corruption” yet nothing has changed as corruption remains the top and leading vice across all the government institutions in the country.

This irony only confirms to us the extent of lip servicing in his speeches but as they say, give Caesar what belongs to him and give due respect to he who deserves it, I think I was puzzled and deeply surprised with the change of tune that the president brought out on his recent speech.

Thanks to his recent visit to South Africa where perhaps out of his consultations with President Zuma, he realized that his country is in the Intensive Care Unit and despite the Lab technicians and surgeons that are operating with him to try and save the life of the country, he will ultimately remain the lead surgeon to be blamed and charged with negligence when the patient (South Sudan) unfortunately dies.

When people talk about a National Dialogue, it must be understand that, apart from negotiated peace accords and other forced interventions by regional and international actors in an attempt to bring sustainable peace in many countries in Africa – South Sudan included, there has never been any tangible solution to permanent peace and stability other than a national dialogue where all the stakeholders from varying political affiliations, ethnic diversities, religious denominations and backgrounds comes together and deliberate on issues that affect them and set a proper roadmap on how to move the affairs of their country forward.

Therefore, the importance of a national dialogue is that, the government with all its security apparatuses, oppositions with all their blackmail gadgets and external interest groups and all the stakeholders stand on a level playing field and argue out their concerns without intimidation, threats, fear or favor.

And because of this extent of independence, the think tanks that the president referred to as the Secretariat of the up-coming National Dialogue had in 2014 when the current fragile peace agreement was being negotiated in Addis Ababa, proposed National Dialogue as the best mechanism that could have been used to bring a permanent and long-lasting peace to South Sudan.

However, due to several local, national, regional and international interests then, their suggestion was ignored hence resulting into a half-baked compromised peace agreement that later on led the country into abyss.

Had this advice been considered much earlier, the country could have been saved from more crises but as they say, better late than never, the National Dialogue should now take place since it is the only option on the table for all the stakeholders.

The president has done fairly well in launching the initiative and consolidating it with such soul searching speech which I rated to be the best speech that I have heard from him since he inherited this country from Dr. John Garang De Mabior.

If you need more justifications for my rating, here are a few points that earned his speech my approval:
1. He apologized to the people of South Sudan for bad governance and the unprecedented suffering that they went through as a result of his unpopular government policies;
2. He appealed to the citizens and those who usually manipulate them to go on unnecessary demonstrations to stop antagonizing and demonizing regional and international partners as South Sudan is not an Island;
3. He assured everyone who shall attend the National Dialogue of their security and safety which is very important because it will allow those with opposing view against the government to attend and participate freely;
4. He affirmed that, the government just like any other institution or individual will be equal stakeholder and not a police in the process and this is a significant assurance because people will not be intimidated to abstain from contributing effectively to the deliberations for fear of victimization;
5. He gave think-tank institutions the task and the opportunity to facilitate, design programs and streamline the agenda for the National Dialogue which in this regard is very crucial because academic rather than political lenses need to be strategically worn if the country is to be successfully brought out of the deep crises it is in now;
6. The president also outlined very vital ten specific objectives of the dialogue which, if addressed and exhausted will open up a new path for the rebirth of this country.

Now here, the president has done his best but as usually is the case, there are those of whom we have always suspected to be around him and who, due to selfish political interests would never allow such crucial national projects to see the light of the day, this is the group that we must collectively combine forces with the president and fight so as we are able to have this National Dialogue take place as planned.

There will be enormous challenges along the way leading to the process but since the National Dialogue is the only life-saving machine that we have for South Sudan, we must all put our efforts and surmount the challenges that be.

The dialogue needs adequate time to enable all the stakeholders have the opportunity to exhaust all the problems that are ailing South Sudan and therefore, it will be a process not a one day or one week event and as such, the time no matter long it maybe ought to be properly framed.

The dialogue will also need material, human and financial resources and this is where the regional and international partners that have always presented themselves to help South Sudan come in and avail such resources without any strings attached because National Dialogue means South Sudanese talking to one another and trying to put their house in order without unnecessary interference from outsiders.

Through the Launching of the National Dialogue Initiative followed by the beautiful speech of the President, it seems South Sudan and its leaders have realized that it is about time we talk to each other in order to find a homegrown solution to our problems, the regional and international community should give this process a chance and facilitate rather than interfere with it.

Another big challenge that faces the national dialogue initiative will be lack of Political Will not from the president as he has already made clear his position but from the spoilers within his political camp since not all of them are interested in finding a permanent solution to the crises that are facing South Sudan today, instead, majority of them are beneficiaries of the on-going confusion and for them to maintain this status quo, they will put road block after another to ensure that the process does not kick-off.

Last but not the least, South Sudanese should begin from where the president has stopped by grabbing the opportunity and supporting the president in his possible and apparently final attempt to rescue this country from its total collapse.

It is my belief that God is intervening by granting all of us this final opportunity to rethink and refine the destiny of our country. I hope in the spirit of patriotism and great love for our great country – South Sudan, all of us will try through our own very little ways to ensure that the up-coming National Dialogue succeeds.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Peaceful New Year, 2017

By: Juma Mabor Marial (Mr.)
LLB, MA (Humanitarian & Conflict Studies), Advocate.
Contact: jummabor2gmail.com

Mr President Kiir: Only free men can negotiate… (Nelson Mandela)

BY: Lomuchie Nyaloro, Concerned South Sudanese, DEC/19/2016, SSN;

Mr Kiir and his advisors in the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) are shamelessly and arrogantly attempting to fool the whole world by calling for a dialogue and peace negotiations with South Sudanese. This breathtaking arrogance is all the more painful when one considers that it comes after they have:-

• destroyed a peace agreement painfully negotiated by the international community;
• committed genocide against the Nuer and other South Sudanese;
• sent their personal and tribal militia (Mathiang Anyoor) to Equatoria to pillage, rape, burn people alive, and force hundreds of thousands into refuge and displacement camps;
• played ‘cat and mouse’ with the UN Security Council on Resolution 2304 (2016) which they have failed to implement;
• silenced all dissenting voices in South Sudan and particularly in Juba; and
• subjected the people of South Sudan to forced and slave labor without paying them their dues and salaries.

Who is Kiir going to negotiate with after he has turned the whole country, and particularly Juba, into a large open prison?

The whole world now knows that nobody is allowed to criticize the Kiir regime or to whistle-blow on its criminality.

Journalists have been killed for reporting on the atrocities of the regime. Foreign journalists have been deported for reporting on the ongoing slow-motion genocide, which is perpetrated by the agents of the regime.

Politicians, local community chiefs and civil society activists are being incarcerated by the ubiquitous Gestapo-type secret police.

No, Mr. Kiir, there is no one left for you to negotiate with in South Sudan. In the past, a repressive Apartheid regime, after keeping Nelson Mandela in prison for over 25 years without cowing his black followers, asked Mandela to negotiate peace while he was still a prisoner. But Mandela replied, “Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contract.”

Mr. Kiir, you and your people have made prisoners of all South Sudanese by stifling their voices. No, they cannot join you in your call for negotiation and reconciliation.

Mr Kiir, despite the terrible things that you have done to your own people, South Sudanese can still respond positively to your call if you can undertake the following as pre-requisites to the negotiations:-

1. Order the release of all detainees who are being held by the National Security Service (NSS), and at the same time call off the campaign to silence our people through intimidation, arrest and murder by the NSS;

2. Order the release of all prisoners who are being detained in shipping containers at military camps around Juba and all over the country by the military intelligence;

3. Order the withdrawal and disbandment of the private tribal militia, Mathiang Anyoor, from all regions of the country. The presence and maintenance of the militia by the government is unconstitutional;

4. Compel your tribesmen who are occupying the lands of Equatoria to remove their cattle and settlements and return to their original homes in Jonglei and Bahr el Ghazal; and, finally,

5. Revoke the creation of the 28 states and return to the borders of the 10 original states.

These are our bare minimum.

Lomuchie Nyaloro, a concerned South Sudanese