Category: Politics

What the people of Equatoria need to understand about the current war

By: David Deng Chapath, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/21/2017, SSN;

The present civil war broke in 2013 in Juba. The war began within the SPLM party and later spread like a wild fire to the Upper Nile Region. After several attempts to end the war, the peace was signed in 2015 which led to the coming back of Riek Machar in April 2015.

When Riek came there was a lot of hope that at last peace was at all the corners of South Sudan. However, due to the reckless and chaotic character of Riek Machar the conflict was resumed from where it was left and continued up to date.

As pointed out in the above paragraph, after the war broke out in Juba in July 2016, it spread over all South Sudan and ended killing more people. The war at this point has become complicated as it has taken tribal dimension.

For instance, the people of Equatoria have pushed the conflict to a greater height as they target members of Dinka Community along the major roads in Equatoria Region. Such targeted killings have led to the death of hundreds of Dinka people, which included children, women and elders.

However, Dinka community has been ignoring the action of the people of Equatoria not because they are scared or afraid but because they wanted the people of Equatoria to understand one thing about the present war.

What the people from Equatoria need to understand the current war is that the war is not about tribes but between the government and those who are planning to remove the government by force. Therefore, the people from Equatoria need to understand this fact.

In addition, why the Dinka people ignore the actions of the people of Equatoria though they keep on targeting their members is because they are interested in peace and national unity and to avoid creating more refugees and displaced persons from Equatoria region as many have already fled the conflict.

As I have pointed out above, the Dinka people deliberately ignore the actions of some people from Equatoria because what they are concerned with is how to maintain stability in South Sudan.

However, many youth from Equatoria including the former governor of former Western Equatoria, Hon. Bakasoro, have declared the war on Dinka. This declaration took place on Tuesday 12, January, 2017 as reported by the Dawn Newspaper on 24 January, 2017.

According to that declaration, all Dinkas are to leave Equatoria land, Kiir Mayardit should resign from being the president of South Sudan, overhaul of the constitution, reform of the army and security system and many demands contained in that declaration.

Nonetheless, what I wanted to tell the people who made the above declaration is that they are unrealistic specially the point that all Dinka must leave Equatoria. Whereas it is important that the government returns the land to the people of Equatoria as matter of their right, the demand that Dinka people should leave Equatoria is unrealistic and unattainable.

It is unrealistic because we are in one country which means one people. At the same time, Dinka people will never be forced to leave Equatoria by force unless they decide to do so voluntarily. Thus, those who are making noises that Dinka people must leave Equatoria are dreaming unrealistic dream.

When it comes to the other allegations as to who fought the liberation war, we cannot argue about it as God and the land of Equatoria know it as to whose blood was poured down there. Because of that there is no point of argument since we do not argue facts which are capable of proving themselves.

In summary, what I wanted to tell brothers and sisters from Equatoria is that the issues of South Sudan will never be finished through conflict but only through dialogue. This is because those who live by the sword will die of sword.

I am concluding this article by appealing to the people of Equatoria that let us embrace peace and sit down to discuss our issues in peace because conflict does not provide way forward.

NB//: the author is the South Sudanese student residing in Kampala and can be reached through dengchapath66@gmail.com

Freedom Fighters or Terrorists: The SPLM /A-IO Equatoria Groups

By Mading Gum, FEB/12/2017, SSN;

Of all the leadership qualities that made Dr. John Garang, SPLM/A leader, one of the greatest freedom fighters in Africa to stand out was that Garang was a great thinker. Garang offered a new nationalism of Sudanism, opposed to divisiveness and separatism. He imagined a political community in New Sudan in which democracy, equality, economic and social justice and respect for human rights is the core.

In his mind, the enemy was clear: all the institutions of oppression that have been evolved in Khartoum to oppress the masses of the Sudanese people. ‘The masses of the Sudanese people’. Remember that.

But why did Garang define the enemy as the institutions of oppression rather than Arabs? Was the Dien Massacre of 1987 not carried out by armed Arab Baggara militias who killed and burnt to death hundreds of Dinkas? Were Arabs militias of Rufa in Jabalyin not responsible for the massacre of over 200 Shilluk civilians in 1989? What about over 90 Shilluk victims who fled for safety but were killed in cold blood at the nearby police station manned by Arabs?

The tragedy in the South Sudan brutal conflict is lack of political imagination beyond tribes, hatred, revenge and self-enrichment. Garang offered New Sudan that transcends tribes in the past. None does today.

Political violence or terrorism, the missing link:

South Sudan conflict can be read in different ways. If you read from the perspective of my friend, Professor Remember Miamingi, the Juba regime is a terrorist state that has expanded the concept of “enemy combatant to the tribes and communities from which the principal enemy comes from.”

For Miamingi, the rebels are the principal enemy, the presumed freedom fighters. Another perspective, underrepresented in the mainstream media, views rebels as nothing but terrorists who “exploit the relative vulnerability of the civilian underbelly” in the dark forests and highways of Equatoria. I will focus on the latter as much has been written about the former.

Although the difference between political violence and terrorism is still unsettled, it is Paige W. Eager book “From Freedom Fighters to Terrorists: Women and Political violence,” that offers a striking contrast between political violence and terrorism.

Political violence is distinguished by three key features. First, it is a broader category that encompasses guerrilla warfare, national liberation movements, violent strikes and demonstrations.

Second, political violence aims to re-order the political and social set up of the society. To overthrow a tyrannical government, to redefine and realize justice and equality, to achieve independence or territorial autonomy are key examples.

Third, violence does not intentionally target civilians but is directed toward property, law enforcement and political authorities.

Terrorism is distinguished primarily by the intentional or threat to use violence against civilians targets for political goals. Intentional targets, who are civilians, differentiate terrorism from broader political violence where civilians are rarely intentional targets.

Bruce Hoffman offers five criteria that set terrorists apart from other criminals. First, there are political motives and second, violence or the threat of violence is utilized. Third, the violence act is intended to have psychological consequences beyond immediate victim. Fourth, organization with chain of command structures conducts the act. Fifth, and the last, the perpetrators of the act are a subnational group or non-state entity.

Terrorists in Equatoria bushes
At the height of December 2013 conflict, SPLM/A–IO prided itself as an alternative to Juba regime and they almost succeeded before tribalism, hatred and revenge engulfed them. IO existence is of contradiction and this also applies to the IO in the Bush. It preaches one thing and its members practice different things.

It is undisputed that IO Equatoria groups have political goals underpinning the terror on the highways and bushes. Equatorains have long harboured feelings for autonomous status for their states under federal framework.

However, July 2016 fighting in Juba and subsequent clashes with IO forces in the bushes of Equatoria as Riek Machar escaped to DRC aggravated the situation. Now, these groups have nothing to do with liberating South Sudan or fighting to realize justice and good governance. The primary aim is to revenge.

And to them, the enemy is not the oppressive Juba regime but Dinka as a tribe. Miamingi observation illustrates this: “…right now we are having ethnic groups within Equatoria region have taken up arms predominantly in response to abuse they have received but also the government’s targeting other ethnic groups on response of their ethnicity”.

The assertion makes two things clear. First, the received abuses are first attributed to Dinka tribe. The line between the government forces and ordinary Dinka civilian is blurred. Second, the act is primarily revenge motivated other than liberating the masses of South Sudanese from all the institutions of oppression in Juba. Here, the political poverty of the freedom fighters becomes apparent.

Unlike liberation movements which target property, government officials and law enforcement agents, South Sudan is witnessing the emergence of terror groups hell-bent on wiping out members of ethnic group perceived to dominate the government in particular areas.

Whether this increases civilian suffering or not is not their point. As long as the targeted ethnic group can be drawn into the bloodbath for genocide to occur, they are fine with it.

The trumped Ethnic nationalism
In late 2016, Alan Boswell gave a dramatic personal account of the rising ethno-nationalism in South Sudan. In Upper Nile, an ethnic Shilluk defence militia marched new graduates to war with songs against Dinka. At the Western end of the country, a Zande rebel leader derided a Zande governor as “Dinka”, a handmaiden for a “sell-out or traitor”.

To understand these ethnic nationalists’ sentiments, one has to look at Benedict Anderson book ‘Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism.’ Anderson defines nations as social constructs, imagined political communities that live in the imagination of its members and belonging to it is about a sense of connectedness to those imagined people. In South Sudan, there is no an imagined political community beyond Naath nation, Shilluk nation, Jieng Nation etc.

One imagined political community that offers a classic example is Equatoria. Although there is no ethnic community called Equatoria there lives in the minds of almost all people in that region of the existence of such political community, separate from Dinka and Nuer. There is a tendency to regard Equatoria as a “deep, horizontal comradeship”.

Dr Justin Ambago, one of the Equatoria prolific writers, admitted “The situation is not the same with indigenous populations of Equatoria, the country’s most southern region. People of Equatoria are more keen to identifying themselves as Equatorians, although they belong to nearly thirty different ethnicities”.

Now, the Moru rebel leader remarks become clear. Equatoria nationalism is ethnic nationalism which carries with it the seeds of xenophobia towards Dinka, the enemy. The freedom fighters have failed to imagine a political community beyond tribe and region. And here, sadly though, the IO Equatoria groups have succumbed to terrorism, wallowing in the miasma of ethnic nationalism.

The writer can be reach at madinggum@gmail.com

Uganda rules out military intervention and UN trusteeship in South Sudan

By Ed Cropley, THE EAST AFRICAN, FEB/03/2017,SSN;

IN SUMMARY:
**** Patience towards President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba has worn thin as the refugee numbers have grown, fueling talk in international policy circles that “trusteeship” is a viable solution.
*** However, Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem, rejected the notion, saying such interference would be opposed even by Kiir’s sworn enemy, Riek Machar, currently under house arrest in South Africa.
*** Uganda sent in troops when hostilities first broke out in 2013, a move that Kampala says prevented ethnic slaughter on a similar scale to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. However, it was criticised for its action amid suggestions that it had ulterior motives.

Imposing an external “trusteeship” government on South Sudan to try to end a three-year ethnic civil war and potential genocide in the world’s youngest nation would only make its security situation worse, Uganda said on Thursday.

Patience towards President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba has worn thin as the refugee numbers have grown, fueling talk in international policy circles that “trusteeship” is a viable solution.

However, Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem rejected the notion, saying such interference would be opposed even by Kiir’s sworn enemy, Riek Machar, currently under house arrest in South Africa.

Colonial mentality

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Oryem, the principal foreign policy voice in Uganda, one of South Sudan’s most powerful neighbours.

“That’s a colonial mentality. If an attempt was made to have trusteeship in South Sudan, then I think even the Machar side would resist it and fight it,” he told Reuters in an interview. “That’s an idea that should not be mooted.”

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 but tensions between its many different ethnic groups quickly surfaced and civil war broke out in 2013 between Kiir’s largely Dinka security forces and units loyal to Machar, a Nuer.

An internationally brokered peace deal restored some calm, although that broke down in July last year with heavy fighting between the rival forces in Juba, after which an injured Machar managed to flee to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Misunderstood

Uganda sent in troops when hostilities first broke out in 2013, a move that Kampala says prevented ethnic slaughter on a similar scale to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

However, criticism of its action and suggestions it had ulterior motives meant Uganda was not prepared to re-commit any troops, even under the aegis of a Regional Protection Force mooted last year by the African Union, Oryem said.

“We were misunderstood by the international community and all hell broke out – we were being accused of everything under the sun and being told to leave,” he said.

“We’ve told them we are not going to go back,” he added. “Uganda has no more interest in sending its troops and boys to South Sudan.”

Separately, army spokesman Richard Karemire said the overall security situation in South Sudan had improved since Machar’s flight from Juba. He also voiced support for the removal of Machar, once Kiir’s deputy, from circulation by South Africa late last year.

“Would South Sudan sleep in the absence of Riek Machar?” Karemire said. “Every time there is a problem, he is in the middle of it. This is something we’ve got to ask ourselves.” (Reuters) END

Uganda holds the key to South Sudan question: Prof. Miamingi explains problems the country faces

JAN/29/2017, SSN;

Before the signing of the Peace Agreement, we were talking about crimes, after the signing of the Peace Agreement, we are now talking about genocide unfolding in S.S.

The chaos goes on seemingly unabated in South Sudan. Uganda’s New Vision website Public affairs Editor Paul Busharizi sat down with human rights and governance expert, S.S Professor Dr Remember Miamingi, to understand the mess in the new country.

Question QN: What is the state of Affairs right now in South Sudan?

ANSWER: The state of Affairs right now in South Sudan at the moment is tragic and to put it in perspective before the Peace Agreement was signed in August 2015, S. Sudan had less than 200,000 internally displaced persons, less than 100, 000 refugees that we had outside the country.

After the signing of the Peace Agreement, today South Sudan has close to 2 million South Sudanese outside as refugees, over 500,000 internally displaced South Sudanese.

In 2013, we had around 2m people that were said to be facing famine. Today, 6 million South Sudanese are facing starvation in the country.

Before the signing of the Peace Agreement, we were talking about crimes, after the signing of the Peace Agreement, we are now talking about genocide unfolding in S.S.

So after the signing of the Agreement, the situation has deteriorated significantly that the UN, AU and international Agencies are now saying genocide is unfolding in S.S in a rate that is extremely disturbing.

QN: Who is perpetrating the genocide?

It is both ways; it is the armed practice to the conflict. But what has happened is that we had a political conflict which degenerated into an ethnic conflict and this ethnic conflict has been excavated by a rhetoric of dehumanising other people on the base of their ethnicity and that which started in 2013, you had a conflict which picked the Dinka ethnic groups and Nuer ethnic group.

But right now we are having ethnic groups within Equatoria region have taken arms predominantly in response to abuse they have received but also the government’s targeting other ethnic groups on response of their ethnicity.

So you have a gov’t that is embarked on a policy of ethnic cleansing on the base of ethnicity but you also have armed groups that have gone back to return the same policy and targeting communities, wiping out entire communities on the basis of ethnicity.

And when you have a country where ethnicity, ethnic hatred is as deep as we have in S.S where dehumanisation of others is a state policy while conflict has provided a symbol of context for it, and the economy has completely collapsed and there’s a war for survival, genocide in that context is devastating.

And so what we are seeing in S.S if not arrested will be than worse than what we witnessed in Rwanda.

QN: How many ethnic groups do you have in S.S?We have 63 ethnic groups in S.S. Sixty three a big number to have a genocide. Who would be killing who? Probably it’s not a genocide

What you have is that even though there are 63 ethnic groups in South Sudan, you have a gov’t that is predominantly one ethnic group and that is the Dinka. You have the rebellion that is predominantly one ethnic group and that is Nuer.

And so when the gov’t attacks the Nuer community through militias and armed groups, they wipe out the entire community not because they are rebels but because they are Nuers.

And when you target one ethnic group primarily and mainly on the basis of that ethnicity with the intention of wiping it out completely, that is the classical definition of genocide and you also have a return, that when this rebel group attack either predominantly Dinkas, they carry out the same policy.

So it is even though they are different ethnic groups, you have primarily two main actors that are engaging on a very devastating act of threatening to wipe out the ethnicity of the other in the context of war that is unfolding.

And so when we are talking about the genocide, we are not undermining the fact that there is massive killing, we are not undermining the fact that there is rape; the rate of sexual violence we have in S.Sudan, we have not witnessed it since we started fighting the Arabs for close to 30 years. The scale of brutality that we as S.Sudanese are meting on each other today, not even the Arabs figured it that way.

QN:So how did it come to this?

That is the 1 billion dollar question because S.S was born a Golden nation to so much virginity and potential with Good will in the region and international.

My answer to that question is that first, S.S suffers from leadership deficit; when we had independence everything was prepared and dreamt around Dr. John Garang de Mabior who was the vision of the movement and the man who articulated and provided direction to where the country was going and demised in 2005, providing a leadership vacuum and the comrades stepped into, who had no vision, had no national interest, they were completely committed to quality of their bellies, it was corruption, it was anything other than the nation building and therefore this leadership deficit led us to where we are today.

Secondly, in my opinion it was the capacity deficit, what we could have done as a country was to say we have a country, we have not governed before, we do not have experience in this, we could have gone to Uganda and say Uganda, we have one of the best civil services in the region. Can you second some men and women to come and help us? We could have gone to Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania and amass capacity to help us do institutions.

So in the absence of institution, in the absence of systems, we had a complete collapse between party, government, the state and the army.

In fact our parliament became like a cantonment area where generals would go if you did not find work somewhere else, you ended up in Parliament. So we had the entire system that was conflicted together because of capacity issues.

But thirdly, in my opinion, is that when we fought North Sudan, we had our own differences and problems and some atrocities that were committed by S.Sudanese against others. They were not addressed at all because we said let us first and foremost deal with the North.

Once we are finished with that, we will come and deal with our own nation and when we finished with the North, we had no opportunity to deal with those issues not that we didn’t have an opportunity, we did not prioritise solving our own post injustices, solving our own grievances and the same people we have in the North that we fought could easily capitalise; took advantage of those differences we had and from there could help in generating the kind of situation that we are having today.

We also got here in my opinion because of the role that our neighbours had played in Sudan in South Sudan during the war. Uganda sacrificed so much during the war and when for example Uganda was expected to play a role when the country was going forward and so was Ethiopia and Kenya.

And so that, different players playing with the different actors in S.S in trying to push one national interest against the other national interest and the conflict that arose also helped feed into the conflict that we are having today. SO it’s a number of issues from leadership through down to regional geo-political dynamics.

QN: What role did South Sudan’s neighbours have in the chaos we see now?

I want to agree that yes, the conflict we have in S.S today, apart from we can’t take responsibility away from National actors, but that our brothers and sisters in the region have also contributed in complicating a search for solution for the problem and I will also give a good example: Uganda played a significant role in fact if you are to rank countries together, the kind of support we receive from Uganda in liberating is monumental.

But when the conflict broke out in 2013, the government of Uganda took one side in the conflict; this was a fight between brothers. The government went in through Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and then supported one side to that conflict and that was to the government.

Now of course government to government support is reasonable except that in the context of South Sudan, we had a government that was predominately bigger that have just been accused of committing crimes against humanity -war crimes and possibility genocide against another main ethnic group the Nuer.

And now when you dare come and help one side, you are actually strengthening one ethnic group against the other. And there strengthening the divide between the two ethnic groups.

Uganda has probably one of the most important opportunities to bring the conflict in South Sudan to an end. It is able, it is capable but I do not know if it is willing to do it.

Let’s go to Ethiopia, Ethiopia seeing Uganda on one side inevitably because of the different dynamics in the region, but also because of the sacrifices Ethiopia made in Sudan then. We had Ethiopia supporting the armed groups and so when you add this to Sudan who basically had interest in ensuring that S.Sudan was as destabilised as it can be, so that at least its armed industry can thrive and so that its own security might be strengthened by a weak South Sudan.

Now you have Egypt coming into this picture through Uganda and with support from Uganda to support Salva Kiir. The moment Egypt is in S.S, Ethiopia is with the rebels, the moment Egypt is in S.S, Sudan is with the rebels. So already all this put together, you have Kenya that has its own interest that has played significant interest in bringing together the Peace Agreement also having its own competition and its national interest.

So these national interests as valid and genuine as they are, not managed well, contributed significantly to the intractability conflict that we have today.

But there is no solution in S.S that is not a solution that is accepted by the region and that is why it is extremely important and we are already asking whether we need mediators to mediate the regional mediation because the differences between the different countries in the region have almost paralysed Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) the ability to provide mutual, impartial mediation to the conflict to the extent that IGAD as an institution has been compromised.

And so without the new incredible mediation and without a united regional front that the AU and UN will depend on to address the conflict in S.S. we are in a situation that as the conflict is deteriorating, solution is going further and the ordinary people in S.S are looking for leadership.

My coming to Uganda was basically to talk to Uganda leadership and so you have the golden opportunity, you can use your experience, you can use your expertise you can use your capacity and have a big nation as a big brother to rise above narrow personal relationships, narrow personal economic and political interests and provide leadership in those regions and if not for any other reason, the outgoing Chief of staff in Uganda in an interview just about a few days ago said the greatest security risk to Uganda remains S.Sudan.

So even if it’s not out of solidarity for S.Sudanese, from a security interest of Uganda, you have over 2m people crammed between the border of Uganda. These people are coming from some of the most traumatised experience, they are interacting with Uganda across that border. You have the flow of arms either to S.S or from there for survival along that border.

You have the social consequence that comes with a small country that was may be 5 or 20 or 30, 000 people right now hosting over 400,000 people in their communities. You have the socio-economic burden that brings in.

So it’s not just not a security threat in that sense but it is also an economic threat because the international community is not putting its money into United Nations system sufficient enough to provide for this.

It is the community that will subsidize them. It is the community that will carry the burden and those people are Ugandans.

It is also a social threat because nobody is providing social and psychological support to these people. Traumatised as they are, the cultural violence, the culture of treating things from the way they came from will begin to interact with local culture there and that is an issue Uganda will have to deal with tomorrow.

And so from that perspective we are saying, you can and you should because the Americans are not bearing this, Ethiopia is bearing this but not every other country in the region is carrying the burden. And we are just talking about those apart from so many 100s of 1000s of persons scattered across Uganda here in Kampala and everywhere who basically depend on this.

Students across the schools here can’t pay their fees because S.S has collapsed. Business men that had invested so heavily in S.S have gone bankrupt; they are having social issues to deal with here. So it is in the interest of Uganda as it is in the interest of S.Sudanese that as brothers, that we fix this.

QN: Where do you derive your confidence that Uganda holds the key to the resolving the situation?

When the war of liberation in S.S was almost failing, failing because of the same compromises in the region, Uganda stood its ground. Uganda did not only provide material support, Uganda in certain circumstances put boots on the ground in S.S in support of the liberation war.

It did it despite the divisions, it did it despite that some people were compromised like Moi, like other people in the region by the government of Sudan.

So historically, Uganda has stood on the right side of history. But in addition to that, I personally do not see President Museveni, just as a president. He is an elder and a statesman who has been in this region long enough, to understand this region long enough, whose actions have impacted heavily negatively or positively on this region to build networks and respected beyond his region.

The utterances that President Museveni makes here become policies in Washington DC, the utterances that he makes here become AU policies sometimes. So there is a cloud. the only unfortunate thing is that that socio capita has been underutilised, that social capital has been limited because of what i perceive as complete distrust from the leadership in Uganda of the leadership of the rebel movement in S.S and because of that distrust, Uganda cannot come to see itself bringing these two people together; some body that you do not trust at all, you do not respect at all; that is causing havoc in the country.

I think as a leader and as an eldest states-person, it is incumbent that you, Museveni, bring these people together. Let there be peace and let South Sudanese be given opportunity to choose who their leaders are. All that they want is peace.

Today, if Uganda closed down the bank accounts of all the generals who are fighting in South Sudan, their monies are kept here, their houses are here and their children are here. Uganda has leverage. If it speaks today, Juba listens because if Uganda closes its door today, the government in Juba will collapse within days, it has the power.

And so I’m convinced from the historical perspective, we are connected as people, culturally we are connected, our burdens become your burdens. But also from the capacity of this country the experience of dealing with conflicts in the region, Uganda has the expertise to deal with us and to deal with our problems each and when it wants.

QN: The distrust between Uganda and the rebel side in S.Sudan. What is the genesis of the distrust?

My understanding and perception is that one of the greatest setback to the entire liberation project in South Sudan was when the rebel movement broke into two in 1991 and that break was instigated by Dr Riak Machar and in Lamako and that pushed the movement back 10 years.

So the effort that Uganda had put into and other countries was almost brought to a total failure but act of a man from a perspective of a Ugandan Government, That was selfish. There was ambition, and on top of that he went back to Khartoum where their image was, there so there was the issue of destruction.

But in addition to that there was history around the conversation to deal with the LRA, the negotiations that had to do with LRA, the understanding and I have no evidence is written down and I have spoken about, I have not verified myself, is that during that 1991 break, one of the conduits that Sudan was providing support to the LRA was through the breakaway movement of Riak.

And so even then when Riak came to Juba and was managing the peace conversation between the governments here, the trust on the side of the government wasn’t there. So the government here sees Riak… that is my perception from far, as not being a reliable leader and not being a true Nationalist and therefore not being a kind of core liberator that will go with a tradition of NRM and ZANU–PF and all those.

So when in 2013 the same Dr Riak Marhar again was alleged to have been involved in an attempted coup, which could have thwarted the project of the nation building, my thinking was that some people in this country had enough. And so it acted and allowed that personal hatred to then inform a national strategic approach.

QN: There was an issue too that the SPLA is not a coherent force and therefore the chaos?

The SPLA before 2005 was one of the most disciplined, professional forces in the region in terms of even though were rebels. Then came in 2005 and the finding of the disagreement under the death of Dr John Garang de Mabior now when Salva Kiir came to power one of the greatest threat to Salva Kiir control over the army was the so called Garang boys.

The Garang boys were the Generals, professional and the training core OF SPLA who probably didn’t have so much respect for General Salva Kiir and what President Salva Kiir then did was one by one, systematically eliminate these people.

These also owned the regional dynamic that Garang was from Bor and you had Salva Kiir come from Bahr el Ghazal and that before Salva came in, that all the people who were probably Dinkas from the Bor. So they then went ahead to balance that. So that was one major diluting factor.

Now the second diluting factor, was as we approach the referendum, Khartoum was busy providing arms to different rebel groups across South Sudan and to avoid these spoilers, spoil the chance of this country to vote in a referendum.

Salva Kiir invented these eviction policies where all those militias were incorporated into the SPLA, they came in with their ranks. That today, it is important to note that we have 745 generals in the army and these people came in with their culture, traditions, they had no training, they came in with the structure, they maintained their ranks; that second diluting factor then completely took away whatever professional advantage that the SPLA had.

The Third diluting factor is corruption when we got independence, S.Sudan suddenly had at that its disposal, it was dealing in billions of dollars from the proceeds of oil and when this money used to come in first, and we had no banking system. The money would come in cartons, millions of dollars in cartons that was kept at the SPLA secretariat.

The SPLA secretariat was the Minister of Finance. Suddenly people had to deal with money and with no accountability at all.

And so every other consideration gave way to corruption and patronage and so the professional disciplined solders that we had completely disappeared that today, it is even worse because when the conflict broke out in 2013, by that time because of these big tribes, most of the malice were from Nuer tribe. So when the conflict broke out, 70% of the army broke and went with the rebels.

So even within the diluted, 70% had gone. So what we have today, when people talk about SPLA today, it doesn’t exist, when people talk about the army, it doesn’t exist because what we have in S.S is a Coalition of miltias whose commanders and control are not to Salva Kiir as the commander-in-chief but it is to the different militias Commanders that brought them together, responsible for feeding them and their salaries and all that they get. So that is another complicating factor.

And that is why if Uganda had not intervened in 2013, ehh… (sighs) the war would have been over from the sense of the rebels because Juba would have fallen because there was no army to provide.

So his right one has not only destroyed the army in the country but has created the greatest security threat as a country. If Sudan attacked us today, we would have no army to fight with because we have finished our army, fighting ourselves.

QN: So how will this be resolved?

Yes, but we are hoping. The resilience of the S.Sudanese people. We started fighting on August 25, 1955. The resilience that saw the S.Sudanese all through those years is the only blink of hope. And that is why we are asking our brothers with the government, the people of Uganda, add your voice to these people, give them the moral support that you can because that’s all they need, the one that will bring about change. And we hope for support as we continue to talk to our conscience as Africans.

QN: You talked of lack of capacity in S.Sudan, the only figures I see is that S.S is two and a half times the size of Uganda, it has about only about 100 km the tarmac road, but what about the people, teachers, professionals and graduates?

Now as they maybe not in the same measure, with many rebel movements across the continent. When SPLA fought during those wars, so many S.Sudanese went into refugee camps and as a result of being in refugee camps, benefited from Education in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and other neighbouring countries and many of them got resettled in countries in the West and also went there to have education. So there is a reasonable size of S.Sudanese in all who have gone outside, who are well-educated and who are willing to return home to contribute.

But what happened Is that immediately we got independence, those who fought, felt that while they were busy here struggling and sleeping in the trenches, you went outside eating bread and butter and going to school and now suddenly you now want to come back, and say you’re Doctors, you’re this. NO. This is our time. In fact it is our time to eat. And that first closed the opportunity so that even the diaspora that returns, returns on personal or relational basis to contribute in whatever capacity that they did.

Even if we had the opportunity of bringing all our diaspora back, but still it will not be enough because the art of the governance is not in class. It comes through experience and those who were outside. Not all of there were in governance, they would do different things.

So we still need to depend on our brothers and sisters who in this region stood by us. But again pride. We fought the Arabs. We are capable just doing about anything. So that arrogance and that approach as if we had it all, closed the door. I do not know how many times the presidents of the region…. Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, UN all of them will come back to Sudan and say we can provide, we will pay for the capacity and bring people to support you.

I do not how much the president will say YES YES and nothing will be done. Because we use gov’t institutions and positions as a reward system that will then oil our patronage networks and keep up loyalty.

So bringing people (expertise) from outside we have no control over them, who have a name to protect, institutions where they were seconded from weakens that control and the entire network and therefore corruption will thrive and as a result, we sacrificed the future of our country for our personal and immediate benefits.

QN: Looking forward, what do you think happens given the current context you have described?

I sincerely believe that the war in S.Sudan right now has almost reached the point that is mutually hurting for all the parties. The government that is broke, it does not have enough money to buy loyalties like it should, for all its patronage networks, it is dealing with rebellions.

Right now, in 2013 we had about 14 rebel groups fighting across S.Sudan. Today we just published report, we have 40 across. Conflict was only in two areas in 2013 and now we have conflict across S.Sudan. So the scale of the challenge is enormous for any government even as callous as you can, you just cannot go to bed and sleep. Because you see the country collapsing.

Today we have inflation above 1000%, somebody that was earning 7,000 dollars in 2013 today is not more than 170 dollars’ worth. And so government no matter how proud it wants to be, no matter how strong it wants to appear, it is completely in a very vulnerable position.

So often the rebel movement controls the structure and command by virtue of these being scattered. The economic pressure you cannot sustain and control all these rebels outside, how do you feed them. They cannot continue fighting the war long enough and so this is an opportunity for the region to take leadership.

They have fought themselves to a stalemate.

It is a stalemate. A mutually hating stalemate and it is an opportunity for the region to come in right now and say you know what, we are tired of trying to accommodate you but have not succeeded.

We are going to act on behalf of those boys and girls, women and men who have no issues with what you’re fighting for; who are primary victims. This is for us a Road Map.

Let’s have a credible inclusive National dialogue. Uganda will host it. Kenya will host it. Let’s bring all those people together but also those men and women from the village. Let’s bring them here. Let’s have the Church – the African Council of Churches- the Council of Churches of S.Sudan. Let’s us have the traditional rulers. Let them facilitate this conversation, they have a history of doing it, a degree in comprehensive disagreements, they did it for people with disagreements, they can do it again.

Bring these people together. Let us talk. Whatever we agree on the round table, we are going to enforce. And we are going to put a threat that is crude but credible on the table. But anyone who then do not honour their commitment of S.Sudanese people will be isolated and will be dealt with.

I think there is that capacity in the region to be able to bring everybody together not only the political actors, but every S.Sudanese who has suffered to have a National Plan and Dialogue, agree on that National Plan of Action and solve that plan of action as we have seen the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) doing in Gambia; that is where we want to go. We cannot continue seeing few people spoiling the name of the continent.

– See more at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1444981/uganda-holds-key-south-sudan-question#sthash.b5PDq5lq.dpuf

Machar Versus Kiir: Two dangerous enemies who can’t work together

By Michael Abraha, Kenya, JAN/17/2017, SSN;

We know Pres Kiir and Dr. Machar are not only political opponents but dangerous enemies who have no heart for each other. The reality is that their self-serving rivalry has cost South Sudan so much bloodshed and the nation is at a stand still because neither side is willing or able to play a fair political game.

I believe it was wrong, ab initio (from the beginning), for these two ambitious men to try to work together as president and Vice President.

Machar should learn from Kenya’s Raila Odinga and be only an opposition leader without any portfolio. This would give him ample time to articulate inclusive ideas and policy agendas with the forthcoming elections in mind.

Meantime, some of his SPLA/IO members should be allowed to serve in the various branches of the interim administration under Kiir.

Given the current hostile environment, Machar and his party should be given full security guarantees. And there are many ways he and his organization meet their financial needs.

Equally crucial in this equation is for Kiir to try to emerge as a renewed statesman devoting more of his time and energy to the task of healing and unifying the nation. No external force can bring peace and unity for S. Sudan.

He can achieve statesmanship of the Mandela stature if he can convince himself and his ardent supporters that their economic benefits and privileges cannot be permanent and may have to be sacrificed for the sake of the nation.

Finally, Kiir and Machar should realize there can be no South Sudan without the Nuers or without the Dinkas. Ethnic violence is a shame in the 21st century.

Collo (tribe) must mend fences or face ultimate doom!

By Gwado J. Ador, United Kingdom, JAN/12/2017, SSN;

The snobs are out again managing an atmosphere of hate and fear amongst sons and daughters of one mother and father. With the heroes falling one after another, the battle for Malakal is certain just at our doorsteps and will soon be decisive.

Brave Collo young men and women are ready to respond to the calls of liberation in Collo land. As natural soldiers by birth, it was possible by the grace of our ancestors for Collo youth to defeat forces of occupation at every available opportunity. Collo would surely determine the outcome of war. They will eventually win the battle for Malakal in just a brief encounter on leveled ground.

Beforehand, Collo will have to come to terms with the inevitable consequences of vulgarism and fatal consequences of infighting among themselves, which benefits none other than prophets of doom in South Sudan.

The issue at stake is the claim staked by Dinka Apadang on a chunk of Collo land. Apadang said Malakal and other Collo areas lying East of the Nile belong to Dinka. This claim which was based on a false ground was duly effected by Kiir’s Presidential Order No. “36/2015” which enhanced the practical annexation of Malakal town to East Nile State.

Since then, Collo young men and women have formed armed resistance movements. Training centres were opened and started to spring up in many areas. Collo were ready to wage armed struggle against Dinka Apandang’s forces on legal and moral grounds.

Many bitter wars have been fought along the Nile and in Collo areas. Agwelek forces managed to put up fierce resistance and defeated the heavily armed SPLA and its Dinka militias of Abu Shok and Darfur Rebels on numerous occasions. Juba however, sustained defeat and embarrassment of losing battles on high tech military equipment to Collo liberation army.

Against all odds, the regime in Juba and its strategist from Jieng Council of Elders “JCE” have become hysteric and paranoid about the ensuing revelation in Upper Nile. A new strategy to deal with what they have termed as “Shilluck menace” have been adopted.

Skillfully, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Jieng Council of Elders ‘JCE’ started to move buying off some wicked elements who were adept to serve selfish interests. A congregation of disgruntled groups in Juba known for their lust for power and money relentlessly competed for kiir’s trust and favors. Some of them ended up being appointed into fake positions of elusive states.

Hence, sharp divisions coupled with military provocation started to surface among Collo sons and daughters. Competing factions who were pledging to fight for ancestral land turned the barrels of their weapons against one another.

Shot by friendly fire, heroes and heroines started to fall one after another. All have happened as a result of lust for power and money. The enemy exploited this and the issue of Collo land confiscation has become even more real than at any time before.

Collo military leaders from both sides have been engaged in polarising public opinion to the extent that desperate Collo natives and victims of injustices became confused. They were sharply divided antagonising one another and on social media platforms.

In order to win our objectives for which we have taken up arms, Collo should vigorously start mobilising youth to face Apadang aggression aimed to confiscate our ancestral land. By now we should have learned how to live together in peace and harmony especially following last incidences of which we lost fine lives of our young men and women. At our political and social spectrum, we must always strive to avoid provocation at all cost.

The fact that Collo traditional leaders worked tirelessly to mediate between the opposing Collo forces but unfortunately these forces often agree to work together half-heartedly. There are threats still casting a shadow on peaceful coexistence among Collo forces, which were bound to fight for our heritage and values. The ensuing threats in the Collo Kingdom might likely cost serious setback and loss of our ancestral land to our enemies.

What struck me further is the amount of death and the quality of fine lives of our young men and women being lost in ‘Upper Nile killing fields’ as a result of the work of twin evils within our midst, which turned Collo people into a laughing stock.

Undoubtedly, this has set a record that some Collo elements could even stride further to accept being bullied or used to fight in order to protect the interest of the enemy for food and positions. Overwhelmed by power, they were ready and could even be fooled to butcher themselves to the finish.

While nothing is being done to stop the bloodshed in the Collo Kingdom, some circles with ulterior motives started to move horizontally causing more chaos and mayhem and the latest is Hamara incident.

How many hero’s and heroin would we want to see falling before we could come to our senses and to conclude saying enough is enough?

On whose account are we paying the high price in terms of lives being lost in the course of our struggle?

Why do unnamed politician(s) and some food lovers keep on provoking the situation of hatred and unnecessary blood being spilt within Collo circles?

Until when will we remain to dig our heads into the sand, and be in utter denial about the threats surrounding Collo motherland?

Fair enough, under the auspices of Collo Kingdom, Reth (King) Kwongo Dak Padiet made several attempts to bring Collo youth together so as to discourage acts of defiance, especially sentiments of hatred and antagonism within the same members of one family.

Thus, Collo competing forces of Agwelek Under Gen. Johnson Olony Thubo and New Tiger under late Yoanes Okic were ritually bound to harmonise their aims and objectives so that they could bottle up their differences. They were set to fight shoulder to shoulder should there be any threats from outside, mainly from forces of marauding vulgarities surrounding Collo land.

But, on many occasions than not, the spirit of unity forged with the blessings of our great grand ancestors of which the two sides pledged to respect have often been a waste. It is abrogated in mysterious circumstance unleashing thus terror and latent hostility in the area. Collo young men and women arrogantly revert to challenging and savagely killing one another.

The sad news is that, following the latest incident, Agwelek and Tiger staunch supporters on social media, instead of investigating the circumstances under which this incident took place, they reverted to antagonising and abusing one another in stark contrast with the past incidences. This situation has unfortunately let to hurting and savage killing among members of one family. This situation has never been witnessed before.

Subsequently, supporters of both parties on social media were seriously embroiled and engaged in cyber warfare. Blame game flared up making most of them busy to mock one another. They often point fingers of accusation of siding with Juba’s “Mathiang Anyor” making it further hard for some of us to believe and digest the ensuing revelation.

But thank God, nothing serious has been advanced to substantiate the wild allegation made against our gallant forces and their leading figures in the battlefield.

It is being rumoured, however, that Kiir’s regime has mysterious hands behind what was going on in Upper Nile because, his forces have failed miserably to achieve their military objectives in the Collo Kingdom and now would want to attain these objectives through other means, including playing each individual against one another.

The question being raised today is how much success has Kiir achieved his military objectives in Collo land? The answer is perhaps a score of 75% certainly because his forces of Mathyang Anyor and other militia allied with the rebel groups in Northern Sudan are still occupying Malakal town including the entire Collo land on the Eastern part of the River Nile.

However, Mathyang Anyor and Dinka Apadang are entrenched in Collo land since Presidential Order “36/2015” of which Malakal was illegally annexed to what they named as “East Nile State”. Stephen Dhieu who comes from Baliet area makes necessary funds available.

The portion of war efforts is estimated in Billions of US Dollars to advance the cause of land confiscation in Collo areas. Dhieu was appointed in various lucrative economic positions to ensure the blazing fire is kept blowing and burning everything in the Collo Kingdom. It should consume the last soul and must erase traces of Collo heritage in that part of Upper Nile.

Strangely enough, others are still leaving in delusions and in abject denial arguing that things will soon become normal under Kiir’s leadership. They said only 25% of objectives have been realised and that explains why Kiir and his ‘JCE’ resorted to discreetly buying-off some top politicians and high ranking military officials who in turn would unconditionally join the government later as part of Gen. Taban Deng Gai’s IO ‘desperate mission for power and recognition’.

Although Gen. Taban Deng Gai was the top leading figure at the negotiating table on the side of IO during peace talks; both ‘SPLA IO and IG’ sides have explored to renegotiate the deal and resolved to settle the issue of decentralisation and federalism based on the new reality on the ground. Kiir and JCE stuck fast on the 28 States and for now, they were not ready to back down.

Taban was warned not to touch the issue of 28 States but allowed to operate within the small margin. He was given an opportunity to slightly improve on the deal by proposing additional states so as to resolve competing interests in certain areas.

Thus, Taban was forced to speak a different tongue. He would want to appear that he was still in control. Taban however, wants to pursue another phase altogether with risks to his safety, guarding thus against any threats which could jeopardise his newly acquired position.

After joining the government following July 2016 Palace Coup conspiracy, Taban alleged success in ousting his former boss Riek Machar Teny. As First Vice-President, he wants to put on a brave face to show his supporters that he was still capable to protect and to safeguard their interests. But sooner doubts started to overwhelm him, especially His uncertainty to take up his responsibility and poor perception on how to follow in his boss’s footsteps.

He embarked on subtle campaign to challenge Riek Machar in an attempt to keep him out of politics in Juba. Taban ensured that Riek is kept away as far as possible, and preferably in exile so as to prevent him to come back and to resume power as the legitimate IO Chairman.

Shortly, Taban became disillusioned with his position, he was in constant nightmare about Riek’s come back. At every opportunity he seizes, Taban vigorously started to dismiss Riek as irrelevant, who is like ‘a vehicle parked in exile without wheels’. President Kiir confided in him and entrusted him to chattel flights abroad to pursue this strategy, which will make Riek confined to one place in exile.

Simultaneously, Taban started to chattel flights between Juba and Khartoum on official visits to iron out issues of bilateral nature, including meeting with some opposition groups active at the border with Sudan.

Observers believe that Gen. Taban managed to strike a deal with some top military (IO) officials, including Collo high-ranking commanders in the area. His mission to attract followers and boost support for his leadership has yielded very little results and subsequently managed to barely lure Nuer or Collo forces to his own camp.

Implausibly, Taban with his bizarre character proposed to create Upper Nile Central States, which will include Panyikango and all areas of the Collo Kingdom lying on the Eastern bank of the River Nile joining thus, Dinka Areas of Akoka, Baliet and Adong with Malakal as the capital city. But, ironically, Dinka Apadang forced Taban to shut-up hinting, “non-coexistence with Collo people under one roof in Malakal.”

Emerging reports have obviously revealed that Taban has thoroughly discussed the issue of Malakal at different forums including church centres showing a clear departure from his previously held position to maintain JCE interests in Upper Nile.

Apparently, Taban would want to bring about peace and tranquility in the remaining conflict prone areas through newly set strategy provided that his proposal would not anger his new boss Salva Kiir Mayardit, and his Dinka supporters who maintained saying the issue of Malakal is non-negotiable. He has appealed for both Collo and Apadang to accept coexistence in Malakal as before, but neither side would want to back down on held positions.

Interestingly enough, Kiir’s recent expression which revealed saying he has done nothing wrong and that he seeks forgiveness for mistakes he might have committed unknowingly has cast doubts about his genuine search for peace and reconciliation.

It was rather unpalatable because of the nature of his approach and the character of his appointees whom some of them under no delusion were people with past bad records on the management of public resources and peaceful coexistent.

Take, for example, Simon Kun Pouch who served as the governor of Upper Nile State for more than two decades has been presiding over the ruins in Malakal. His reign as Governor during those days showed wanton destruction on physical infrastructure, including social fabric in the area. Thus, Malakal was reduced to just a mere rubble.

What could we expect from a bunch of idiots who knew nothing besides hatred? Simon Kun in league with other like-minded Nuer and Dinka individuals destroyed the whole town of Malakal beyond recognition. They massacred thousands of innocent people, including children, women and elderly in just a matter of some few days, what a farce!

Similarly, Bona Malwal who is currently serving, as a leading member of JCE is known for his avid dislike for unity and non-sharing resources with other non-Dinka in South Sudan. He strongly believes in disunity, and a tribesman at heart.

In fact, Bona Malual is the very person behind the idea of ‘Dinka absolute power for two hundred years to come’. He has relentlessly traveled around the world to preach for Dinka super power and imposition of the policy of divide and rule in the Republic of South Sudan.

However, both men and some more others are posing real threats and insecurity for the people of South Sudan. They will certainly defeat the purpose by which any genuine call for dialogue and reconciliation. With their likes on top of affairs, the prospects for dialogue will not only become harder to realise, but it will be a more risky venture in the context of South Sudan.

As devoted Churchgoer, President Kiir is still far away from the spirit of true repentance, thus he is not worthy to receive the divine of forgiveness or remorse yet. God the almighty saviour has not yet come any closer to his side, because of the amount of sins he committed against innocent people of South Sudan.

Honestly speaking, if he were serious about his recent intention, he would have at least scrubbed his establishment order No. “36/2015” as a gesture to attract sympathy and to remove suspicion and doubts still lingering around his neck.

Secondly he would have accepted without any precondition to dismantle all the illegal establishments crippling political, economical and social welfare institutions in the country.

Thirdly, he would have taken a courageous stance to dismiss JCE as unconstitutional non-existence.

Lastly, he would have shown signs to step down voluntarily, paving the way for the advent of real democracy and unity of the people in the country. But instead, President Kiir ignored all these vital gestures. Therefore, he was not really serious about his latest call.

The good news is that many people, however, have not taken him seriously, because he was known for such misleading and compelling appeals. Obviously, he was making a mockery of the system. However, fighting against injustices will still go further. We will preach and call for unity of all the tribes to rise up against policies of ‘Kiir’s fascism’.

Albeit, Collo must be prepared this time to fight for survival. Collo must come together united with other communities facing the same enemy to fight against injustice, corruption and malicious antagonism within South Sudan. Threats are real and will go nowhere any sooner. Collo forces should take the lead and put its forces on alert to response rapidly for calls of duty against forces of disunity and destruction.

The established social spectrum on various media platforms must observe the spirit of brotherhood and desist from making unnecessary provocations or irresponsible move. Collo various military forces must abide by pledges made before the King of Collo people and paramount chiefs in respect for the spirit of our ancestors and for the sake of our motherland.

Let us stand side by side for the protection of our traditional values and our rights to leave decent life. Let us reject forces of evils in our midst by assuring that we wouldn’t be intimidated or misled by forces of darkness again.

The spirit of our ancestors reinforced by the blessings of Jesus Christ will always be upon all the Collo people, especially those who have taken up arms to fight for our rights against forces of occupation and disunity.

Finally, the issue of Malakal is central to everyone in the Collo Kingdom. This is not a private affair or a monopoly of politicians or groups of individuals armed or otherwise. We will never accept any bargain that would not place Malakal at the centre of final peace to resume its role as inherent Collo commercial town.

Certainly, Agwelek and New Tiger forces, including the entire Collo people won’t take any further provocation or aggression lightly while lying down. Victory is ours and certain.

To our fallen heroes, have mercy and rest in peace.

Pres. Kiir and Dr. Machar 1st Presidency 2005-2013: An Analysis of its Achievements, Failures and Weaknesses

By Tong Kot Kuocnin, Lawyer, Kenya, JAN/08/2017, SSN;

The first presidency between president Kiir and Dr. Machar began shortly when the movement lost its historical leader, the great Dr. John Garang De Mabior on 30th June 2005 in a helicopter crush. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr. Garang long time deputy, immediately got installed as the FVP of the Republic of the Sudan and the President of the Government of South Sudan, as per the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005.

Consequently, Dr. Riek Machar, being the second man after Kiir immediately became the VP of the Government of South Sudan until in July 2013 when the later went on rampage against his boss subsequently causing divorce to their political honeymoon.

In this article, I intend to bring to forefront the achievements, failures and weaknesses of the first presidency of President Kiir and Dr. Machar 2005-2013. Quite obviously, there are major achievements that the 1st presidency of Gen. Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar achieved.

The first and foremost achievement, though it was a common interest of the people of South Sudan was the peaceful and successful conclusion of the conduct of referendum on self-determination for the people of South Sudan. The right to self-determination made all the people of South Sudan of all walks of life to make sure that South Sudan break away from the Sudan.

We successfully voted for an independent state of our own, the republic of South Sudan. We cared less about under whose leadership that the region broke away but what was important was to break away from Sudan and have our own country. We did achieve it for it was our common interest.

The SPLM leadership may brag about it but for sure it was not the making of SPLM but the people of South Sudan for the number of people of South Sudan is greater than the membership of SPLM. We were tired and fed up of all mistreatment in the hands of our brothers and sisters in the north.

President Kiir may brag about it that it’s his success but the fact remains that his only vote can’t determine the fate of a region inhabited by millions of people. But we do give him his credit for although he wasn’t that wise but his being a leader at the time earned him that credit and all its veneration.

The second achievement though it back fired, was his numerous presidential pardons and amnesties issued to pardon all those who took up arms against their own fellow brothers and sisters, notorious warlords and militias and their integration into the national army, the SPLA with which the region relatively had a bit of peace though it didn’t last longer than usual.

The aim of all these presidential pardons and amnesties was to reconcile the people of South Sudan and forge a new beginning in an attempt to build the would-be new state in the map of the world. Quite obvious that his good intentions were taken for granted in which numerous militias took up arms, killed and caused havoc but still they were pardoned and integrated.

These notorious warlords and militias would have surely destabilized the region and caused more havoc and devastation if he had pursued the path that was about to be taken by our late leader Dr. John Garang with all southern militias when he refused to meet with the then known militia leader and the most notorious one, late Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial, in the presidential Palace in Khartoum and threatened to deal with all militias who failed to join either side of the parties to agreement as per the terms and clauses of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005.

However, despite the achievements and successes mentioned above, there were unaccountable failures of the 1st presidency of President Kiir and Dr. Machar, as manifested by the overall records of President Kiir and Dr. Machar 1st presidency, there was a complete failure of the government in maintaining durable peace and security, respect for human rights, human and infrastructural development were disappointing.

The government failed to minimize incessant communal violence and cattle raiding that were rocking Lakes, Jonglei, and Unity and Warrap states, if not putting them into a standstill.

Hence, these failures and several other factors accounted for these poor and disappointing records of the 1st presidency of the two gentlemen.

There were weak institutions of government established along ethnic lines, for instance, if a minister comes from a particular tribe or ethnicity, then eighty per cent of the ministry’s staff comes from his tribe forthwith.

The government failure coupled with weak institutions was responsible for an unspeakable corruption at unprecedented scale where millions of pounds and dollars were siphoned to foreign bank accounts overseas. The president allowed all the state resources to be looted at day time by his ministers, senior civil servants and senior army generals at his watch.

There was complete lack of political will from the president and his deputy to initiate institutional reforms and curb rampant corruption and bring to book of shame and justice all corrupt officials.

During its nine years in office from 2005-2013, the government was marred by a couple of scandals one after another including the famous Dura saga, the four billion dollars stolen by known thieves in which secret seventy-five letters were written to seventy-five officials who were presumed to have stolen the money.

The other scandal was the eight million stolen from the public coffers which led to the dismissal of the former ministers of cabinet affairs and finance and economic planning and the current one being tried before the high Court involving the office aides of the president.

However, many writers argued that not much can be accredited to the 1st presidency of President Kiir and Dr. Machar since they both took oath of office in 2005 until the duo got politically divorced and parted their ways in 2013. It was a kick-backing presidency.

In a nutshell, it can be argued that the 1st presidency of President Kiir and Dr. Machar succeeded in overseeing the smooth, transparent, peaceful and successful conduct of the referendum on self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan but failed in curbing human rights violations, communal violence and cattle raiding, corruption and democracy, rule of law and infrastructure development.

That was the nature of the government we had in South Sudan before the duo quarrel over the national cake in 2013, its achievements, failures and weaknesses.

The writer is a Master of Laws (LLM) candidate at the School of Law, University of Nairobi. He can be reached via: tongbullen@gmail.com

Kiir’s Dialogue for peace offers rarest opportunity to achieve lasting peace and a durable constitution in South Sudan

BY: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda, JAN/02/2017, SSN;

On December 14, 2016, the President of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, gave one of the rarest and the best speeches in the history of South Sudan. What made that particular speech stand out and the best among all his other speeches in my opinion, was the fact that not only did the President give what is required in order to achieve peace in South Sudan but he also gave a method of how to achieve it.

The three stages of how dialogue should be conducted as proposed by the President in that speech is the proper approach to achieving peace because we should not at this time go to the neighbouring countries to search for peace when we have the country.

The reason the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005 was made in Kenya was that South Sudanese did not have the country.

Moreover, the Peace that is always made outside South Sudan limits the participation of the rural people, which explains why a peace process takes only the views of the warring parties without considering the needs of our rural people as the government and the SPLA-IO are presumed to represent the people which are not true.

Contrary to the belief as stated in the above paragraph, the Government and the SPLA-IO represent their own interests and this explains the fact that any slight friction between the two parties will always result into deadly clashes. Because each party jealously protects its own interest and forget the needs of the people they are presumed to be representing.

However, the initiative of the President on how to achieve peace in South Sudan through dialogue will help the people to contribute their views in the peace process and how peace should be achieved.

This will further make the people own the peace and protect it and will also make it hard for anybody whether the government or armed oppositions to break it without risking to lose the support of the people on the ground.

This point alone makes the approach of the President important in achieving peace in South Sudan.

In addition, the President in that speech as indicated by his choice of words (or diction) showed that he is the head of the nation and he is ready to lead and protect the nation and her citizens and to achieve peace by all means.

The fact of the assertion as I have just made in the foregoing sentence is illustrated by the following repetitive but important words of the President:—

“I am deeply concerned about the direction our country is heading to: tribal hatred and divisions. I am deeply concerned about the parents who cannot feed their children due to the shrinking economy. I am deeply concerned about the street children and all the citizens of this country. We shall work to preserve and protect the unity of our people. As your President, I will not allow this suffering to continue. I shall be the patron of the NATIONAL DIALOGUE. We fought for the unity of this country but not to tear it apart. We shall guarantee its unity. Let us embrace the unity. I am initiating the national dialogue. It has been the hallmark of the Liberation struggle…”

The words of the president as quoted above shows the seriousness of the president with the peace dialogue this time because he accepted responsibility as head of the State as he has seen the suffering of the South Sudanese and even apologizes to them.

Even though many people are skeptical with the initiative of the president on how to bring peace in South Sudan and even dismissed it as political gimmicks, but as far as I am concerned, the choice of words shows that the President meant what he is talking about and ready to stick to it.

Thus, I really appreciate the humbleness of the president as exhibited in that Speech. In other words, it was a great speech in the history of South Sudan.

What makes it a great speech is its practical aspect. The speech outlined the objectives, goals and the procedures to be followed if the peace in South Sudan were to be achieved.

Therefore, the President seemed to have realized that if the lasting peace in South Sudan is to be achieved, then, it must be not externally but internally driven.

As has been in our case since the civil war broke in 2013, the effort to achieve peace in South Sudan has been externally driven, which always ends up in failure.

The reason for the failure of externally driven peace process has been explained by some writers who have observed that externally driven international efforts to resolve the conflict in Africa are often faced with the limitation that local parties are sometimes unwilling, or unable, to relate to such initiatives.

Hence, the local people are always left out in the process of peace making and are unable to relate to such initiatives geared towards achieving peace lasting peace.

This is premised on the fact that the peace process is conducted on the official high-level diplomacy hence marginalizing the local population. As a result, the peace process becomes alien to the local people.

Another weakness of the externally driven peace process or liberal peace project as some of the writers have termed it is that it is an intervention designed to facilitate the establishment of durable peace and prevent recurrence of violence. These include peacekeeping, peace support operations, disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration.

As seen above, the externally driven peace process leaves out the local population and only concentrates on the warring parties and how to stop peace at conflict level.

For this reason, the peace accord is always drafted based on the views of the leaders on both sides of conflict and by consequence, it leaves out the local population or the supporters of the two parties.

The consequence of the externally driven peace is that it can easily be terminated by stronger party when it feels threatened by the content of peace agreement. This was the reason why the Compromised Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2015 of South Sudan easily gave way to another deadliest conflict in July 2016.

The whole thing is that weaknesses of the liberal peace project as explained above might have conditioned the decision of the President to call for national dialogue. The national dialogue as the president envisages is intended to be a means of finding out the views of every South Sudanese in rural areas other than relying on the views of politicians who only wanted the peace agreement to be drafted in a way that brings them closer to power and resources.

After coming to power and the resources, they forget the people, only to remember them when their interests are threatened.

Nonetheless, proposing the national dialogue as a means of achieving peace in South Sudan, the President of South Sudan has got it right. This is because the president is going to kill two birds with one stone.

The dialogue is going to bring the war to an end and at the same time the views of the people as obtained in the process of dialogues will provide the basis for the constitution. When we talk of the constitution we mean the supreme law of the land.

The term “supreme law of the land” has its origin from English Common law. In other words, the supreme law of the land refers to the English customs that were associated with the values found in English land and later those customs or English values were adopted by the Norman Kings through the adoption of common law or common customs that were turned into law by Norman Kings beginning in 1066 AD.

Norman Kings were kings who came from France to colonize England in 1066 and in the process of colonization, they adopted common customs. Such customs were later applied throughout England and Wales as common law because they were common customs applicable to all the people in England and Wales.

Thus, because those were common customs, the common law was and it is still respected today in England and Wales. In the same way the dialogue may bring up the common law to all South Sudanese that may be the basis for the common law of South Sudan or strong constitution respected by the local population.

At the same time, the peace process achieved through such a dialogue cannot be easily abrogated by any of the parties to the conflict because all citizens will own it and defend it.

In regard to the need for justice as many people have been making as a point of doubting viability of such a dialogue, I would like to point out that the local people have the rights to decide and express what they need during the dialogue and the President as the patron will be forced to adopt such views.

Hence, if they say they need justice and in a given form and to be achieved through a given manner, then the authorities will accept it because they were the ones who proposed the method of peace making process.

In short, the presidential initiative on dialogue for peace in South Sudan offers the rarest opportunity to achieve lasting peace and durable constitution in South Sudan. The only condition South Sudanese should put as a condition for dialogue is that the speech be implemented as it is.

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

South Sudan, My Country: A Nation at the Mercy of Madmen!

BY: Mayak Deng Aruei , DEC/23/2016, SSN;

The tears shed and suffering experienced by those who have lost loved ones in South Sudan brutal civil war will be a curse on all the actors. Each morning comes with bad news, highway killings and disappearances credited to the Juba’s unknown gunmen.

The leaders who are supposed to be custodians of the nation are not living up to people’s will and expectations. Their thirst for overarching powers doesn’t yield to the call by people who have known nothing but deaths and hunger throughout their existence.

The population so dependent on what they hear from leaders verbally have their hopes subsidized, and the joy supposedly associated with independent South Sudan disappeared before delivery. Taking issues by the hierarchy of importance, South Sudan security situation must be addressed before anything else can be resolved.

The political elites and their bloodsucking cohorts are directly responsible for the current crisis. With the situation so volatile as entailed by the records, not even the strongest men/women in the country can stop the little known gangs from wrecking the nation apart.

It’s never too late for the citizens to reach to the bottom of South Sudan’s fundamental governance problems. The callousness and political cult that instigate fighting among different ethnic groups in South Sudan must be dealt away with.

To begin with, this article is about the madmen of South Sudan. Who are they, by the way? The madmen in the context of South Sudan present political anarchy are those politicians and warlords who have had a joint venture, and on the rampage of killing everyone who disagrees with them.

If anyone has to ask some of the Dinka/Jieng’s Army officers & youths who joined the death squad on behalf of the SPLM-IO, and why they chose such political path, their answer would not be different from those who had taken up arms against South Sudan’s government in the recent years.

Obviously, it would be presented as a call to reform the corrupt and decayed system of governance in the country. And from the perspective of bystanders(South Sudan political commentators), it’s a quick move to rise to the top without merits.

As I write this piece, key Jieng’s youth leaders have relinquished their allegiances to the SPLM-IO, and are either returning to South Sudan or continuing to reside in East Africa according to unannounced amnesty offered to them by the Government of South Sudan.

Just a day ago, an eloquent colleague online pointed out that some Dinka/Jieng’s youths who left for the bush empty handed are returning home empty handed. What a scar on their names?

On the other hand, if an outsider has to ask the Oil suckers why they labeled their own as being Rebels, threatened their lives and forced them to choose SPLM-IO as an alternative, they would be like… the whole thing was very confusing, but we just need them back badly.

Give us a break, madmen, you have destroyed South Sudan, and have shamed our independence.

More than a decade since South Sudan gained self-governce, different armed groups have operated in the countryside, killing, looting and raiding livestock. And there is more to what emerged after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA).

As a matter of records, South Sudan’s current governance problems dated back to those days when the Region was governed in Khartoum, and when Southerners believed/claimed to have no freedom to realize living side by side as one people.

In the olden days, successive Khartoum based regimes used “divide and rule”, the very method that worked best to the advantage of the people in the north (rest of the former Sudan). The elites, both northerners and southerners to some extent, exploited ethnic differences and ignited the fire that kept Southerners in a constant fight for many decades.

When the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army emerged in 1983, the political fault lines shifted, and those who once considered themselves pro-Arabs became enemies of the State(Sudan). It was rather a well calculated drastic change that crippled the nation’s economy and displaced millions within the first five years of the war.

There were steep resistances by Southern Sudanese politicians who relocated themselves to northern Sudan, chasing town life. Despite that, the momentum was so huge that other marginalized Sudanese joined the guerrilla warfare.

It was something never seen by the Sudanese Establishment, and majority never thought that a Southern political & military front would ever force Sudanese government to make sense of some of the proposals put forth by the SPLM/A in negotiations that never materialized.

With all of that being an eye opener, proxy war strategy which made Southerners to fight themselves along ethnic lines continued to tear apart their social fabric wherever they lived around the world. Knowing where we all came from can help us deal with future governance challenges of our new country.

Following through with series of events before South Sudan’s independence, tribal conflicts were usually apolitical, fierce fight over resources(pastures & waters). While war raged in the South(1983-2005), power struggle among the officers of the Movement led to internal fighting, and Khartoum gave hands to those who chose to fight the SPLM/A in the South.

In the heart of what was northern Sudan, three fronts(Nuba Mountain, Southern Blue and Eastern Sudan) stayed intact with the SPLM/A Mainstream and helped the Movement to survive until major breakthrough was reached in 2002.

The same Allies who fought alongside South Sudanese in the war of liberation, and who are now known as members of the SPLM-N helped the current Government of South Sudan from being overwhelmed by SPLM-IO fighters in northern South Sudan(2013-2015). Localized wars are hard to win, and defeating armed rebellion has proven to be the hardest thing since guerrilla fighters usually have nothing to lose.

In practice, there are things that don’t come to surface when nations are in peace and doing well economically, but do become exposed in times of war. It serves great importance to point fingers at paranoids who are used to fighting wars on behalf of their masters.

Chunks of the back and forth wrangling in the country would have been settled peacefully if leaders were not too busy off-shoring public money. In every level of the South Sudanese society, grudges built up and matured into actual war.

Deep down the villages in South Sudan, the actions of madmen are seen through crooked officers who often take sides in local conflicts. The tribal elements seen in South Sudan’s many fights aren’t necessarily the launching pads for all the conflicts in the country.

For example, former Lakes and Warrap states scored high in Jieng killing themselves. It was just a matter of time, and the whole situation was expected to explode. Foreign organizations and Journalists based in South Sudan all these years described events as catastrophic, but authorities didn’t take serious notes.

Now come the big bomb, a rift between President of the Republic and his former Vice President whom he sacked after trying to challenge him in a ruling Party democratic exercise. The rhetoric right after December 6, 2013 were very alarming, yet people chose to be muted until mass-killing became the new reality in South Sudan’s major towns(Juba, Akoba, Bortown, Bentiu and Malakal).

Just to stamp on the historical account of the events leading to the independence of South Sudan, quite a number of incidents showed that running the new nation would be hell of a job for those who never had a real government.

Khartoum never had interest in training responsible leaders, and its actions have backfired on them in Dar Fur, Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In 2006, an extension of the Popular Defense Forces resulted into a lethal fight in the garrison town of Malakal.

The long time militias of “divide and rule”, allied to Sudanese government in Khartoum, and commanded by Gen. Gabriel Gatwech Chan(Tangynyang), and Gen. Mohamed Chol felt left out in the central command, and staged a door to door gun-battle.

That conflict should have been an eye opener for authorities in the South, but they failed to take serious notes despite the fight being an entrenchment by the untamed militias to join the organized forces without some kinds of power-sharing.

In the same Region of the Sudan, now South Sudan, junior officers in the SPLA formed their thoughts, flocked to the bushes and started fighting the Government of Southern Sudan in Juba.

The political rivalry among different groups in South Sudan is a syndrome in its own right, and blame had always been on Khartoum. Slowly by slowly, a blame game between largest tribes (Dinka and Nuer) in South Sudan started to gain popularity, and military confrontations ensued.

But with SPLA not being national enough, soldiers turned guns on their closest colleagues in the Army. The skirmishes of the political flip-flopping have left deep marks on all South Sudanese, and Representatives of different ethnic groups in South Sudan, and at different levels of the governments should take blame for failing the country.

As the world watches South Sudan disintegrating and descending into bitter political pieces, the ethnic intolerance shown by politicians holding higher positions in both the Government & the opposing sides is very troubling.

When madmen are termed as being corrupt, organized criminals and so forth, they want to reach for guns or hire a Hit-man to kill the person who talk sense. Duh, they cannot win the fight until they are disengaged from repetitive nature of their deeds. There shouldn’t be any illusion about the current state of affairs in South Sudan because suffering has always been the work of madmen.

Lastly, the recently announced “National Dialogue” as being discussed across the board is rather a new thing given unsettled legitimate leader of the SPLM-IO. I’m afraid that those who termed the new political Machine as “National Monologue” are describing the would-be national reconciliation as a one-sided.

The first few signs of the promised dialogue are troubling, and that has been the nature of things in South Sudan for quite too long. No doubt, the Dialogue include prominent and veteran politicians who have served South Sudanese on different fronts, but it is a little too sketchy for anyone to envision success of such mechanism.

Already, concerned citizens and opposition parties have voiced their fears, and saw nothing tangible coming from the so-called “National Dialogue.”

On its face, it is an assurance to supporters of the Government that power isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. The President has doubled-down on many agendas. Lack of genuine interest in resolving the conflict is a serious challenge, and must be dealt with before lost hopes can be resuscitated.

Had top leadership of South Sudan’s Government and the Rebels put the interest of the nation first, this senseless conflict which has consumed much of our resources, would have ended on January 24, 2014.

The arrival of Advance Team in Juba after the August 2015 Peace Accord (ARCSS) was promising, but skepticism turned into shoddy hope, and faded away when fighting erupted again around the Presidential Palace (J1).

In making the concluding remarks, South Sudan’s ongoing political and military turmoil can be traced back to many things that have gone wrong over the years, and those in charge of the nation’s affairs have failed numerous times to address them appropriately.

With so many mixtures of what make South Sudanese fight themselves, ethnicity need not be ignored when dealing with the country’s central issues. The warlords who come from all tribes in South Sudan are the madmen, and South Sudan is at their mercy.

Unless citizens look after their lives and properties, these energetic ruthless killers plus aged egomaniacs, Council of Elders from all tribes must be scrutinized and sidelined from making decisions on behalf of those who seem to give them everything they want.

As we move into 2017, we should all be thinking about proper ways for fixing the mess in the country. The huge vacuum left by security apparatuses failing to discharge their functions and uphold their responsibilities accordingly has brought the nation to where it is today.

It is important that solutions be availed to solve the complex issues that keep setting South Sudan ablaze.

The Author here is Mayak Deng Aruei, he holds undergraduate degrees, a graduate degree, and currently a Doctoral student in Organizational Leadership & Organizational Development, and can be reached at Kongor.da.ajak@gmail.com

South Sudan: Too Many Problems but So Many Hopes

BY:Taban Abel Aguek, MP, and Govt. Chief Whip, Easten Lakes State, DEC/18/2016, SSN;

South Sudan is a country that emerged to be an independent State from a wave of turbulent eras of uncertainties. It’s history is largely an account of a series of protracted conflicts. In fact, South Sudanese people have, for the past centuries, invested more in wars than any other thing.

The history of the struggle of the black people of Sudan and South Sudan goes back to as early as prehistoric time. According to some recorded materials, the black people of the ‘Sudans’ were continually pushed way beyond Egypt until they found themselves in the present day Sudan and South Sudan before and after the 14th Century, following the collapse of the Christian Nubian Kingdoms of Makuria and Alodia.

Then the South Sudanese continued to wage bitter wars later against the Anglo-Egyptian colonization and then again against successive Arab Islamic regimes in Khartoum. And for all the wars the South Sudanese fought both in the ancient days down to most recent ones, there was one chief cause among all other things: Identity.

Generations, one after the other, lived in an environment of war. So basically, South Sudanese have lived with a culture of war of identity to an extent that war itself has almost evolved into a habit of settling their issues.

On January 9, 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan led by its ruling party, National Congress Party (NCP). Finally, a brutal conflict that started in 1983 (and cost millions of lives) was brought to an end.

Peace was just a general thing but out of all the protocols in the agreement, there was only one clause that actually meant peace; and that was the ‘South Sudan Referendum’.

For the first time in history of the struggle of South Sudanese, they would get a chance to choose to either remain in a united Sudan or secede and become an Independent State. In that, the referendum presented a choice of Identity (for which South Sudanese had fought for so long) or remain in an Arab dominated United Sudan and continue to live as second class citizens.

South Sudanese, on 9th January, 2011, voted 98.83% in favor of separation and passing over the 60% turn-out threshold for the Independent South Sudan. On July 9, 2011, the flag of the world’s youngest nation was hoisted to the wild jubilation of South Sudanese of all ages and of all creed.

But two years after Independence, the new country descended into another terrible conflict, this time against itself. Anyone who saw the exultance of the crowds in the streets of all major cities in the country could not believe their eyes.

A dreadful conflict has just broken out. What began like a simple game of politics had swayed from the peripheries of talks to the barrel of guns just in a very short time. Major towns were raced down, hundreds of thousands of people displaced and lives lost in huge numbers.

South Sudan, as an independent state, had come along with a plethora of problems. The old problems have coupled with new ones, and the burden is sure heavy. From independence it started from scratch. There is very little or no infrastructural development at all. Poverty is wide spread. Its healthcare is one of the worst in the world. Illiteracy is so high and so many things are just at an infant stage.

The region of Upper Nile and some parts of Equatoria have been left devastated by rampant insecurity. Targeted killings of people of certain ethnicities continue unabated. Tribalism has heightened and the economy is all but in tatters. This has not only left South Sudanese disillusioned but also very much forlorn.

With these facts, it is hard to deny that we are in problems. Yes, South Sudan is a country in deep problems but we are also a country with so much hope too. Pessimism is a disease that possesses the same effects as war itself.

As a result, south Sudanese should not give up faith in themselves and in their beloved country. South Sudan has so many problems, but people fail to realize that her hopes greatly outweigh her problems.

People should be mindful that we are not the only people fighting on earth. The problems in our country are the same problems associated with every new African country.

Chinua Achebe once said that there is nothing difficult than telling people that have been fighting for freedom for so long that you are now free; they will not know where they will begin.

Moreover, we still have the destiny of our country in our hands. We have not squandered all our chances. One only has to look at Syria, Somalia, Iraq or Libya to see the difference.

Much as our people suffered and continue to suffer today, not all is lost. Many times in the past, our revolutionary movement used to be written off, but we defied all odds until we reached to the ultimate goal.

Just like the SPLM/A under Dr. John Garang de Mabior struggled through thick and thin for over two decades and survived, South Sudan will make it.

We are where we are (as an Independent Country) because of things we did right; but there are things that we did not do well, and I believe we have time to right all the wrongs.

One of the key battles we lost from the word go is the fight against corruption. Secondly, we never made the right policies or properly implemented the policies that existed.

This, I believe, is because of the confusion of amalgamation of political ideologies and work forces that had been of distant methodologies, competences and experiences.

After the signing of the CPA, South Sudanese choices for vital public offices came from various people who did not have any agenda for the country. The convergence of different SPLM chapters from SPLM-Bush, SPLM-Khartoum, SPLM-Diaspora and SPLM-Former Militias culminated into one unit that was good at theft, and not formulating a strong ideology for the country.

The worse then is; these people were recycled over and over again as they climbed the ladder to a point of the Biblical Tower of Babel, where they finally disagreed.

However, much as the country was terribly failed by the members of various groups, we must acknowledge that we exist and we are not totally off the mark. We have not lost it all. The situation South Sudan is facing has happened before and is still happening today in other countries that were established long, long ago.

As reported last week by CNN, Brazil and Greece, for instance, are suffering the economic problems just like South Sudan. Government workers in Nigeria go for months without salaries just like in South Sudan. War in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq are worse than the current unrest in our country.

Meanwhile, there’s no government in Somalia, South Sudan has a fully functioning government. Meanwhile we suffer fuel shortage in the country, people in Zimbabwe, according to one witness testimony aired by BB, experience severe water shortage for drinking and bathing.

Nothing is too late for South Sudan. We may be down but having fallen down is not the problem. The problem is if we fail to rise up against each fall. We have the potential to turn things over. Our people are among the world’s strongest people.

Our land is large and fertile. We have enough annual rainfall. Our natural resources are largely untapped. No situation is permanent. We shall not depend on imports for all our entire existence.

Generally, our identity project is not a failed endeavor. One of the strongest hopes South Sudanese have is their ability to reconcile. We have done it in the past and we can do it again.

One more time we need to stand strong and prove our skeptics wrong. With that we can surmount the challenges we face and one day we will build a nation that we aspire for. What we need now is to shun tribalism, foster unity, work hard in our different capacities to stitch together a working solution for the problems of our country.

The initiative by President Salva Kiir Mayardit for National Dialogue provides the chance to reinvigorate our combined efforts to make peace and reconcile our people. People of South Sudan need to embrace this initiative, give their full support, enrich it and own it.

We must put our hopes above the feeling of despair; for we have more hopes than problems in this country.

Taban Abel Aguek (MP) is the Government Chief Whip of Eastern Lakes State. His views do not represent the position of the Government of Eastern Lakes State. He can be reached at abelaguek79@gmail.com