Category: Uncategorized

A Transitional Government without Kiir can’t avail peace in South Sudan

“A new Transitional Government without President Salva Kiir is a farce; a mere fallacy devoid of reason and one that delivers no concrete solution to South Sudan’s conflict.”

By: Taban Abel Aguek, Member of Parliament, FEB/22/2018, SSN;

As talks on the Revitalization of the Peace Agreement continue in Addis Ababa (which has collapsed), many suggestions are being put forth on ways and means to remedy the situation in South Sudan. The search for peace in South Sudan is good but it seems strange that, as we look for solutions to the conflict in South Sudan, we create more mistakes that tend to prolong war than avail peace.

In real essence, the Addis Ababa peace agreements seem to plant more recipes for war than avail complete cure for our problems.

In the first agreement there was an issue of two armies which later resulted in the Juba fight on 8th July, 2016.

Another new recipe for war again today is if IGAD accepts the demand by the opposition groups and one civil society organization called Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ) for President Salva Kiir Mayardit to be excluded in the new transitional government of South Sudan.

In the first place, I am one of the South Sudanese that did not support the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF), I was rather supporting the National Dialogue. In my opinion, the National Dialogue should first have given been a chance. If it fails, then we would be obliged to try the Revitalization of the 2015 Peace Agreement.

So I am one of the South Sudanese people who opposed the HLRF because I believe that, both legally and principally, there is a legitimate Peace Agreement already on the table. The Government in Juba was formed through the provisions (and is operating) using the same guidelines of the agreement that was signed by all parties and witnessed by all stakeholders, Troika included.

Some people won’t tell us directly but they seem to insinuate that Dr. Riek Machar is either synonymous with the agreement or he is the agreement himself. When Riek is not in government these people say that the peace agreement has collapsed. Yet, the same people who claim that the agreement has collapsed, the SPLM Former Detainees for instance, do still have their ministers even today in the Transitional Government of National Unity in Juba. That is what we call hypocrisy.

The other cheeky thing is that the same people who gave us the agreement now turn around to shift blame to the government on their own flaws in the agreement. The flaws we pointed out in the 2015 peace agreement which were actually published across all South Sudanese media were ignored. One such flaw was the issue of two armies in one country. More mistakes should be avoided now.

The South Sudan Peace Agreementof August 2015, clause 6.4 says that, “And in the event that the post of the First Vice President falls vacant during the Transitional Period, for any reason, including mental infirmity or physical incapacity of the office holder, the replacement shall be nominated by the unified ruling party. Such a process of nomination shall not exceed forty-eight (48) hours. The successor as the First Vice President shall serve in office until the end of the Transitional Period.”

After the J1 fight, President Salva Kiir on record went live on media calling on both sides to stop fighting and he specifically called on Dr Riek Machar to come to office. Dr Riek Machar, instead of heeding to such call, kept on fighting for another seventy-two hours until he and his forces had to be finally pushed out of Juba.

If Dr Riek had accepted the plea of the President to cease fighting and come to office, he would have stayed as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan until today.

After long tireless efforts, there was nothing the Transitional Government could do otherr than ask the members of his party to sit and nominate another person in Riek’s place as provided for in the agreement. That is how Gen. Taban Deng Gai became the First Vice President of this country.

Again, records show that Gen. Taban has outwitted Dr Riek on many occasions. Each time Dr Riek stands up against Gen Taban, it is Taban that in the end laughs last and laughs best.

One recent example was when Dr Riek, as a sitting Vice President, supported his wife to be Governor of Unity State in 2010 against Gen Taban. Gen Taban did not only win against Dr Riek’s wife but in fact he wrestled control of Dr Riek’s home state. When some Riek –allied militias probed up against Taban in Bentiu, Taban ruthlessly squashed them into submission in a very short time.

By current standing, Gen. Taban Deng Gai has already taken with him more than half of the SPLM-IO rank and file members. Those who have remained in Dr. Riek’s war are a few students mainly in the diaspora and some remnants who have long become highway terrorists that deserve to be banned in the region and treated like Kony’s LRA.

The second reason why I don’t support the HLRF is that we need to discourage the politics of rebellion. South Sudanese want to use rebellions as means to get to political and military offices.

Now in South Sudan, if you have five loyal soldiers, you can kill five people on a highway, go to Addis Ababa peace talks after five days and all of a sudden you either an SPLA general or minister just in five days. That is why most rebel movements in our country are briefcase organizations.

Their stories are big, their atrocities are downplayed and the stakeholders continue to give them ground. That is why many South Sudanese accepted the Addis Ababa II, or call it the IGAD High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF).

If South Sudan government had rejected the Revitalization Forum of the peace agreement, it would have been easy to take it as being responsible for the continuity of war and suffering of the South Sudanese people. So, it went to such talks in good faith.

All in all, what we need in South Sudan is peace and stability. Period! Whichever way total peace can be achieved in this country, if it is through HLRF, so much the best.

But the problem now is that the highly proclaimed and the High Level Revitalization Forum is again trying to condone very useless demands, in fact untruthful demands, that may keep peace at bay for long time.

One of such demands by the opposition groups is that President Salva Kiir Mayradit be excluded from leading the proposed new Transitional Government. Another Human Rights Body, the Centre for Peace and Justice, had earlier suggested that both Kiir and Riek Machar be exempted from the transitional government.

According Radio Tamazuj, the opposition demand that Kiir be excluded from leading the transitional national government is that they accuse him of violating the 2015 peace accord. CPJ on the the other hand in a statement published by Sudan Tribune argues that “Experience shows that Kiir and Riek cannot work together,” asserting further that President Kiir attempted to kill Dr Riek twice.

Both arguments are not only incorrect but they are not practical in pursuing peace in the country. Regardless of all notoriety, propaganda and the games, the bottom line is: peace cannot be achieved at this time in this country without President Salva Kiir.

I still maintain that the 2015 peace agreement did not collapse. It is being revitalized at the request of rebels and pressure from Troika. The 2015 peace agreement faced major hiccups when Dr Riek’s soldiers in Juba were misled into thinking that they could overrun Juba.

But still there is no enough and convincing reason that President Kiir be excluded from leading the government. That could amount to nothing less but an organized coup, which is not acceptable in all terms.

Well, CPJ might be correct that it is difficult for President Kiir and Dr Riek to work together. But again it is not necessary that they work together. The rhetoric by Mr Tito Anthony published on Sudan Tribune that, Kiir tried to “assassinate Riek twice” is not only false but a scam designed to get his argument through.

President Kiir has had every chance, if he wanted, to kill Riek but he never wanted to kill Riek. The last fight in J1 sparked off by Riek’s soldiers can be the right example to use. After very intensive fight, Dr Rieks soldiers waned in the end but President Salva Kiir ordered his bodyguards not harm Dr Riek let alone kill him.

Dr Riek was escorted by Kiir’s bodyguards up to his residence in Jebel from which, without reciprocating the good deed, launched another brutal fight. The SPLA had no option left but to defend themselves, the country and the President.

If Dr Riek forces had captured J1, would one imagine Kiir being alive today? But there was Riek there without guards and Kiir protected him from his own angry bodyguards whose colleagues were killed.

Such a suggestion or call it a demand that a legitimately elected President be removed from power unconstitutionally is anti-peace. If such sentiments don’t stop then it’s our feeling that we as people of South Sudan to ask our delegates not to set foot in Addis Abba again.

Such suggestions once given room by IGAD may backfire in the very near future. IGAD leaders ought to be really careful. South African countries have developed a culture of overthrowing their leaders through army and/or party parliamentary caucuses. Our countries here in East Africa are trying to forge a way through which they can overthrow their elected leaders. We must try to avoid such ugly means of transfer of power.

President kiir is a validly elected President. One of the guys gunning for his seat today through the back door, Dr Lam Akol, only managed to garner less than 7% against Kiir in the 2010 general elections that were witnessed by UN and so many other global institutions.

Moreover, Kiir commands a large support in the ruling party, SPLM and across the country. Any attempt to remove President Kiir unconstitutionally shall straight away plunge the country into a complete chaotic mess.

Take it here: it is better when these so many splinter groups fight Kiir. Without Kiir, who is now the common enemy, there will be no one left to fight. It is better to have these people engaged in fighting Kiir. You wait when there is no Kiir there is nobody that cannot be President in South Sudan.

Generally, and for records, its good to state that talks in Addis Ababa may possibly produce an agreement that at best is modus vivendi. A change of governance presents not the lasting solution to the conflict.

What the Addis Ababa talks should majorly address is how the various armed groups be united and integrated into one command and then silence the guns. The talks must seek ways to bring the IDPs and refugees out of camps to their homes.

The other vital issue that needs joint efforts is how the revitalization and the restoration the South Sudan economy. If we stop war through honest and rightful means, then it is possible to achieve meaningful peace in our country.

The best and the only prudent way to settle the leadership wrangles in the country is through the democratic elections. If President Kiir loses elections, no one of his supporters will fire a bullet. But if forced out by a few delegates in Addis Ababa then there shall surely be more chaos than peace in this country for another very long time.

Taban Abel Aguek is a member of State Legislative Assembly in Eastern Lakes State, Yirol. He can be reached at abelaguek79@gmail.com.

A shattered hope: Revisiting the horrors of Kiir’s Juba’s massacre

By Duop Chak Wuol, FEB/22/2018, SSN;

Sometimes it is better to immerse yourself in other’s experiences to get an understanding of your own imagination. It is not rational to conclude that what you imagine is necessarily the case. However, it is logically valid that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a reasonable way to understand his or her inner self.

It was more than four years ago when a hopeful five year old boy was slit in the throat in Juba and died instantly. His name was Peter Gatwech Nhial. This heartrending episode transpired in front of his parents. A few minutes later, the killers shot his father and mother. Fortunately, his father survived.

Peter’s life was ended by a ruthless ethnic militia employed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to kill people. His death was a hope shattered: the life of an innocent child unjustly terminated, leaving his father to continue living life in pain. It was an act of violence committed against a helpless young South Sudanese child.

In January 2018, I visited one of the South Sudanese refugee camps located in Ethiopia’s western region, Gambella. The name of the camp is Nguenyyiel, and the site is also known as Kule Three. After my arrival in the camp, I asked for permission from the local authorities to be taken to a public place like a market, health center, or school.

My intention was to see, assess and experience the current refugees’ situations in the camp and compare them with the life I once lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. But I did not expect my tour to be overshadowed by this boy’s shocking story.

After a short walk, I met Peter’s father, Nhial Goy, at a nearby health center’s compound. I have to admit that my meeting with Nhial was accidental. When I first arrived at the compound, I saw a middle-aged man sitting on the compound with his head down. A few minutes later, his face was still leaning downward.

I then felt a moral obligation, though it was probably not a coherent choice, to greet him and perhaps attempt to ask him why he kept his head down for such a long time. It was an uncomfortable decision and my heart was, for reasons unknown to me, beating heavily.

I walked to him, greeted him, and extended my hand to him. A brief conversation transpired between the two of us — I asked him if he was well. He replied, “Yes, of course.” I then asked him why he kept his head down for many minutes. “Is there anything wrong?” I asked.

To my surprise, Nhial responded by lifting his head up, looking around, and bursting into tears. I was stunned to see Nhial’s face covered with seemingly endless tears. It was a throbbing moment — a moment that caused me to keep quiet for a while.

Astonished and not knowing where to begin, I asked him if I could get him a cup of water. Nhial replied, “No, I am fine.” I was baffled. I remember having a strange feeling in my mind that something was just not right about Nhial’s tears. After wrestling with my conscience, I decided to ask him again about his well-being and why he had cried.

Nhial had enough, tearful and determined to share his grief: “I am here to seek medical attention for my gunshot wounds,” he said. “My son and wife were killed in Juba. My only hope was shattered by Salva Kiir,” Nhial added. He explained that his wife, Nyabiey Ruon, died of her wounds a few hours after the attack.

Nhial disclosed to me that they were shot in the early morning of December 16 and he could not remember the exact time. He stated that he was waiting for his wounds to heal so that he could join the fight against South Sudan’s government, saying, “I am willing to fight against the person who took the lives of my wife and son.”

While I was stunned and did not know what to say, Peter’s father decided to take the lead and voluntarily showed me three huge permanent scars: one on his forehead and the other two on the right side of his lower abdomen — a chilling reminder of how horrifying the attack was. How he survived puzzled me, and I know for a fact that his miraculous death-escape needs medical explanation.

Nhial told me he thought he was going to die and that his rescue was God’s work. He explained that he was inside his house in Gudele with his dead wife and son when he heard the sound of an ambulance the morning of December 17, 2013 and decided to crawl out of his blood-filled home.

He said he was lucky enough to reach outside his gate before the ambulance arrived. There, one of the medical workers saw him and asked the driver to stop the car. He was then put into the ambulance and rushed to Juba’s teaching hospital.

As we continued our conversation, I noticed a continuous flow of tears from his eyes: it was one of the most painful moments in my life — my heart was bursting with sadness, I had to end the discussion about the tragedy.

Nhial later revealed to me that he was snicked out of the hospital to a UN-run camp in Juba by humanitarian aid personnel after he was told by a doctor that he was free to leave the hospital. The doctor advised that he should seek further medical attention in another hospital as Juba’s hospital did not have the right medications for his head wound.

He said he did not know whether his wife and son were buried and that he kept thinking about what happened to their bodies. In the back of my mind, I also knew that there were countless numbers of people who probably experienced the same cruelty.

Nhial was lucky enough to be snuck out of the camp by his relatives and escape to Kenya before his final destination, Nguenyyiel refugee camp.

Nhial’s horrifying story kept me thinking for three weeks and helped me to understand what Salva Kiir’s leadership is all about. It was a tough and touching experience for me, but it was an account that I would embrace even though it echoed the pain in my soul.

This narrative gave me opportunities to cry and laugh. But there are times when I get enraged with the level of brutality inflicted on Nhial’s family – especially when emotions get the best of me.

I tried my best to separate my personal feelings from the brutality Kiir’s regime inflicted on Nhial and his deceased family. What enraged me the most about this particular tragedy was the fact that none of Peter’s parents had blood relations with any of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) senior political leaders, whom Salva Kiir accused in December 2013 of plotting a coup.

Nhial, Nyabiey, and Peter were all innocent civilians who were living the life of ordinary South Sudanese. They were not active in South Sudan’s politics and had no known records of supporting any particular political leader or party.

Kiir’s ethnic militia targeted Nhial’s family simply because they were of Nuer ethnicity. Peter and his mother were brutally murdered due to tribally-motivated political madness — it was, indeed, a hope shattered.

The author can be reached at duop282@gmail.com.

How likely are states to implement the US proposed arms ban on South Sudan?

BY: Mark Deng, a Law Ph.D Candidate, Univ. of Queensland, Australia, FEB/20/2018, SSN;

The Trump administration has recently announced an arms ban on South Sudan as a response to the seemingly intractable civil war in the country and the resultant humanitarian crisis. President Trump has called on both the regional countries in Africa and the UN Security Council to implement a global arms ban on South Sudan.

The arms ban came a few days after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called the government of South Sudan an “unfit partner” in the international effort to resolve the South Sudanese conflict.

While the comment may not have been an appropriate diplomatic thing to say to a foreign leader, and, indeed, an ally, it was made out of a frustration at the persistent failures of the South Sudanese leaders to make necessary compromises to break the impasse and bring durable peace to the country.

Adding to the frustration is the fact that the US government has invested over $11 billion dollars in South Sudan since 2011 to support the transitional process, peace talks, and development. Yet the situation in the country seems to be only getting worse.

The war has deeply divided the South Sudanese society and the arms ban was received in the country with mixed reactions.

The rebels and their supporters, on the one hand, welcome the ban as a necessary step to influence the government’s intransigent position on the ongoing consultations to resurrect and implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS) signed in 2015 between the government and the rebels.

The ARCISS collapsed in July 2016 after a ferocious fight erupted outside the State House in Juba between the presidential guards and the bodyguards of the rebel leader, Dr Riek.

Dr Riek instantly claimed that the incident was a government’s calculated attempt to assassinate him, prompting him to withdraw from the Government of National Unity in fear for his life.

The government’s response to the arms ban, on the other hand, has not been positive. The First Vice President of South Sudan, Taban Deng Ghai, was quoted recently in a newspaper, saying that the US is no longer a partner in peace.

The Vice President gave this statement shortly after the government of South Sudan recalled its ambassador to Washington in protest to the arms ban. It is unclear as to what these growing diplomatic tensions between the US and South Sudan would lead.

Whatever disappointments the arms ban may have caused to the government of South Sudan, however, the people of South Sudan should never see the US government as an enemy, bearing in mind the indelible role that the Bush administration played to help the South Sudanese achieve their independence.

It is clear that the arms ban raises with it a number of issues, one of which is state sovereignty. According to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, states are to respect each other’s territorial integrity. Put differently, no state should engage in acts that undermine another state’s capacity to maintain its national sovereignty.

The Treaty of Westphalia still holds today, however, it has come under heavy criticism. Some have argued that globalization and other factors that the treaty did not foresee and addressed have rendered the treaty ‘anachronistic’.

Mindful of the need to preserve the treaty, however, others have suggested that there should be exceptions to it. For example, it has been suggested that humanitarian crisis and breakdown of government in a state should be exceptions to the treaty.

I find myself in agreement with this view. A state sovereignty under which citizens do not enjoy the protection of their lives, rights, and freedoms serves no purpose.

The government of South Sudan may claim that the arms ban undermines its sovereignty but the ban, in my view, is justified as it is intended to stop human suffering in the country and further complications to the conflict.

However, the arms ban may have a justifiable ground, but it remains doubtful whether states will follow suit and implement it.

States are generally guided by their own national interests and international treaty obligations in implementing sanctions against a particular state.

The international arms trade is governed by the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) 2014, which is yet to earn the support of all states. As of present, only 93 countries out of the 193 UN member states have ratified the ATT. Among the non-signatory countries are China, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine, which all are the leading arms suppliers to South Sudan.

It is possible that Israel and Ukraine could implement the arms ban on South Sudan, given their close diplomatic ties with the US.

However, it is unlikely that China and Russia could do the same for two main reasons: (1) both countries have vested interests in mining the oil in South Sudan and may not be prepared to jeopardize these lucrative investments; and (2) they are not under ATT international obligations to implement the arms ban on South Sudan since they are not state parties to it.

In addition, the neighboring countries, particularly Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, may not be prepared to implement the arms ban on South Sudan. Aside from being members of IGAD, of which South Sudan is a member, these countries face the same issue of political instability as South Sudan.

On that basis, it is difficult to see how these countries can implement the arms ban on South Sudan due to the fear that any of them could suffer the same fate at any moment.

However, if these neighboring countries were to implement the arms ban on South Sudan, the ban could be effective. These countries are the channels through which arms enter South Sudan from arms suppliers.

In 2015, for example, a Chinese cargo ship, carrying different types of Chinese-made weapons, docked in the Port of Mombasa, Kenya. The cargo was unloaded and the weapons were transported by land to South Sudan.

In 2014, it was reported that South Sudan and Uganda signed a military cooperation agreement. The particulars of the agreement have not been made public but it is generally understood that the agreement authorizes Uganda to purchase arms from third parties on behalf of South Sudan.

While nothing is set in stone in diplomatic relations, the close ties between South Sudan and its neighboring countries, as well as the uncertain future they all face in the region, make it unlikely for these countries to implement the arms ban on South Sudan.

Sure, the Trump administration could apply pressure of any sort to these countries to get them to implement the arms ban but how that would play out cannot be predicted with certainty.

When talking about arms bans, it is important to consult history. History shows that arms bans hardly work. An Arms ban was, for example, imposed on Sudan by the European Union in 1994, yet it did not seem to stop arms supply to Sudan.

Reports indicate that China and Iran, two of Sudan’s close allies, continued to supply Sudan with arms despite the ban.

So, the reality is that it is difficult to control the flow of arms effectively, and the reason is that the arms trade is an international multi-billion dollar business. The states and international arms sale companies will always to try to flout and circumvent the rules in order to continue to make profits from arms sales.

The ATT aims to prevent and eradicate illicit arms trade but its regulatory system does not seem to be effective enough, considering the fact that recent arms sanctions against Syria and Libya have not been successful.

So, in the absence of an effective mechanism that ensures compliance with the treaty obligations for all countries, doubts hang over the success of the proposed arms ban on South Sudan.

It is likely that countries like China and Russia will continue to sell arms to South Sudan and it will all be business as usual.

Mark Deng is a law PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Email: mark.deng@uq.edu.au

South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC) condemns Govt. violations

PRESS RELEASE: FEB/12/2018;

SSNMC Condemn Government’s Continuous Violation of Cessation of Hostilities. SSNMC would like to condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our ally’s defensive position in Nasir by government troops.

On Monday morning, the 12th of February 2018, our colleagues from the SPLM/SPLA–IO reported that their defensive position in Nasir was attacked by government troops without any provocation.

The government not only violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed on 21st December 2017, but also disregarding, disrespecting and providing no credibility to the High Revitalization Forum current taking place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Since the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities on the 21st of December 2017, the government has continuously violated the agreement on numerous occasions in Upper Nile, Equatoria and Western Bahr El-Ghazal.

There had been indiscriminate attack against unarmed and innocent civilians across the country. Provision of humanitarian assistance to the famine-affected population continuous to be horrendous. This clearly manifests
government’s lack of care for the country and for the people.

Sincerely, SSNMC ask the Government of South Sudan to use this opportunity if it is serious about the country and the entire people of South Sudan.

SSNMC expects the government to engage the oppositions actively, discuss and resolve conflict in good faith, without intransigence, offering concessions and demonstrating political will to channel a new political dispensation for South Sudan.

SSNMC is committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan. Hence, SSNMC appeal to the IGAD-Plus to take significant and practical steps to ensure the government of South Sudan is serious about peaceful resolution to the conflict in South Sudan.

IGAD-Plus should not continue to lay blanket blame on all parties but should hold spoilers responsible for their actions.

Contact: Daniel Zingifuaboro
Phone: +61474047016
Email: si.ssnmc@gamil.com
####

Statement on South Sudan’s current Peace Process and Political situation in the country

Phow State Civil Society Organizations
Date: 16/02/2018

To: All media outlets. In the name of Almighty God, God of Peace and Mercy;

South Sudan embroiled itself into civil war in mid Dec 2013. As a result of that political and armed conflict, thousands of innocent civilians have so far lost their dear lives. Millions others more are already displaced now SUFFERING internally in the country as IDPs and in neighboring countries as Refugees.

We, Phow State’s Civil Society Organization groups, would therefore like to seize this golden opportunity today to express our views and voices on South Sudan current disturbing political situation. We need peace to return to South Sudan!!

It has now been almost five years since January 2014 when IGAD took regional initiative to mediate peace talks first between the two main warring parties in order to bring about peaceful settlement in South Sudan. But all in vain!

Today, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Peace talks between the opposition coalition and Juba government are still ongoing through IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum on ACRISS. We are really optimistic that these latter talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will be fruitful. As we call for peace in the country we also urge the region and the world to decisively act on the below narrated issues which in our views are some of obstacles preventing peace from happening. Let’s be brief, precise and straight to the points.

First, Phow State’s Civil Society Groups condemn the following in the strongest terms possible:

1. The acts of South Sudan Peace obstructers and violators who are continuing attacking amidst peace Revitalization e.g. the recent Sobat, Nasir, & Yei River States attacks.

2. The act of Kenya Government who kidnapped and deported James Gatdet, Aggrey Idir, Dong Samuel and Marko Lokidor and then handed them over to South Sudan Government in Juba.

3. Unlawful, tribal and politically-motivated verdict of James Gatdet Dak death sentence announced on Monday 12 of Feb 2018.

4. The meaningless and irrational political confinement of Dr. Riek Machar Teny in South Africa.

Second, we support the regional and International Community in the following:

1. Continuous initiatives to bring about lasting peace to South Sudan through ongoing High Level Revitalization Forum on ACRSS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2. Recent America’s Arms restrictions sanctions, EU and other sanctions on South Sudan government.

3. We support and encourage any other country in the world to do the same.

Third and finally, we the entire population of Phow State Civil Society Organizations demands:

1. The regional and International Community to decisively mount punitive measures on South Sudan Peace obstructors and violators. The world should step up measures to end impunity in South Sudan.

2. Unconditional and immediate Release of Dr. Riek Machar Teny from detention in Pretoria, South Africa. Dr. Machar is an influential popular leader whose presence is badly needed for successful peace process in South Sudan.

3. IGAD to stand up and find out the actual whereabouts of Agrery Idiri, Dong Luak and Marko Lokidor who were arrested and deported back to Juba, South Sudan, by Kenya Government. We want to know whether or not, they are already killed or still alive and in the hands of Nairobi or Juba? We will expect from IGAD an urgent public feedback on this issue or push for those four men immediate release. Phow State alone recently released fifteen (15) prisoners of war to ICRC and then ICRC handed them over to Juba government as stipulated in CoH agreement signed on 21 Dec 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

4. Therefore, on the same token, let the other side or Juba unconditionally release as well from its custody the opposition prisoners of war, those detained or arrested for reasons related to this conflict and all political prisoners including James Gatdet Dak, Mako Lokidor, Dong Samuel and so on and so forth.

5. All parties to the conflicts which are concluding the HLRF second phase in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to immediately agree and sign peace for South Sudanese people.

6. We also call upon the region and UN Security Council to immediately impose Arms Embargo sanctions on South Sudan and on all individuals peace abstractors and violators.

Because peace will to come without imposing arms embargo or individual sanctions on South Sudan to stop unnecessary buying and bringing in of deadly weapons which are being used against the civil population across South Sudan.

Signed:
Peter Gatkuoth Nuar
Chairperson
Phow State’s Civil Society Organizations
Email: gatkuothpeter44@gmail.com
Copy to:
• ICRC
• IGAD
• AU
• China
• Troika (United Kingdom, the United States of America and Norway)
• EU
• UNSC
• File

Why the Death Sentence on James Gatdet Dak should be Nullified

By Peter Gai Manyuon, Activist, FEB/16/2018, SSN;

On Monday 12th of September 2018, a South Sudan court in Juba sentenced James Gatdet Dak to death by hanging, citing several provisions in the constitution as the basis upon which the verdict was reached by Judges.

The verdict sentenced (Gatdet) for allegedly inciting violence which falls under treason charges according to article 64, disseminating false information to the detriment of South Sudanese national security under article (75) and insulting the president under article 76 under the penal code of 2008 respectively.

On the other hand, the lead-defense lawyer, Monyluak Alor Kuol, described the verdict as a political decision from the government of South Sudan with no legal basis or citations.

Evidently, audiences all over the world reacted positively and only few welcomed the decay sentenced on various social media platforms. It’s should be noted that, sentencing or death penalty was not cross-checked or properly cross-examined by competent judges in South Sudan, instead incompetent Judges all over the Country continue determining cases that are not well scrutinizeD.

What can South Sudanese do in regards to these judges? For how long Should South Sudanese continues trusting these Judges in the Country? Are they really well trained judges or politicians working in the judiciary in South Sudan pretending to be judges?

The transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011, under bill of rights mentioned that “every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and integrity of his or her person which shall be protected by the law; no one should shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her right” respectively.

The question is, whether the judges have read the Bill of Rights of the Transitional constitution 2011 which they are claiming to have read?

In the same Bill of rights clearly and precisely mentioned, all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of law without discrimination as to race, ethnic origin, color, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, birth, locality or social status.

Furthermore, under the same bill of rights restricted or prohibited death penalty to anyone without proper scrutiny. The same Bill of rights precisely said, no death penalty shall be imposed on anyone.

The Judges in Juba imposed death penalty on James Gatdet Dak on tribal basis not through good legal procedures.

In fact, judges are making judgments based on assumptions and interests attached to their legal processes in various courts in the Country. No fairness and respect to the Constitution of South Sudan 2011 especially the Bill of rights. The government in Juba abandoned constitution of the Country and judges only worked on directives of the government.

There is no independent judicial system in the Country. It’s rule of man which is final in all the Institutions in the Country.

It’s therefore very unfortunate for a Country to allow national security and politicians in deciding or determining court cases, killings or terrorizing all people in the Country.

The matter if not handled with care can disintegrate the Country more and more in to sections in due time, where each community shall be ready for self-rule or self-determination.

In summary, the only people qualified enough for death sentences and treason charges are all former Ministers, current Ministers, Army Generals and Kiir himself who have looted, killed thousands and displaced civilians to different parts of the World.

Who is more criminal between someone doing his work as Spokesperson of his party and someone who kills millions of people and loots the Country resources for almost two decades?

It’s only happening in South Sudan where top criminals are sentencing innocent Journalist for belonging to certain ethnicity. This is a serious and contentious issue that must be denounced as malicious in nature.

In conclusion, Kiir Mayardit and the National security and despotic politicians in South Sudan should evaluate the judgment again otherwise, the issue of James Gatdet could incite more crises in the country since others will look at it in different lenses.

Even though South Sudanese are looking for peace to come back to the Country anytime from now, the government and its allies must desist from doing unnecessary court cases that are inciting’s more conflicts in the country.

Peter Gai Manyuon is an Author, Independent Journalist and Columnist who has written extensively on Human Rights and Democracy in South Sudan. Reachable on independentjournalistpgm@gmail.com.

Unfair Justice: South Sudan Government & Kenyan Allies should be held accountable for the life of James Gatdet Dak

PRESS RELEASE:

The South Sudan’s human rights groups in the Diaspora call upon the South Sudan government to drop all charges against, and release unconditionally, Mr. James Gatdet Dak, former journalist and spokesperson of the South Sudan Liberation Movement -In Opposition (SPLM-IO) with an immediate effect.

On 12th February, 2018, James Gatdet Dak, was sentenced to death penalty on charges of treason and war incitement against the government of South Sudan by the rogue regime in Juba after spending one year in detention. Dak was innocently accused and his imprisonment was only politically motivated by his affiliation to an opposition group.

James Gatdet Dak was kidnapped on November 4th, 2016 at his residence in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, by the Kenyan authorities after his comments on his Facebook page regarding the dismissal of Mr. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, a Kenyan citizen, working as a commander of the United Nations’ forces in South Sudan.

Mr. Kimani was dismissed on allegations of failing to protect civilians during clashes on July 8, 2016 in Juba between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the opposition forces under Dr. Riek Machar.

The Kenyan authority acted in an irresponsible manner by violating the international law for refugees’ protection by deporting James Gatdet Dak to South Sudan regardless of his refugee status.

Dak’s judgment is a total violation of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan article 19.6 which stipulates a right of any accused to defend himself/herself through a lawyer of their own choice.

Dak’s verdict was pronounced few months after his defendants walked away in protest of unfair trial conducted by the South Soudan high court.

The court is also dishonoring the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) Article 8.3 of demobilization signed on December 21st, 2017, which states that all the political prisoners and detainees shall be released within 14 days after the signing of the agreement.

The government of South Sudan needs to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression and the protection of civilians instead of conducting politically motivated prosecutions.

Real leadership is needed if Kiir’s regime is to convince South Sudanese and the world that his government is genuinely supporting public opinions and the freedom of press for pursuit of peace.

The human rights groups call on South Sudan government to respect its own constitution and the recent CoHA to release all political detainees and to give room for peace to prevail in the country.

South Sudan human right groups in the Diaspora call on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), U.S congress, European Union, IGAD, Troika countries, African Union, all the international human rights organizations, Faith based groups and human rights activists to use their power and immediately intervene and stop the politically motivated prosecutions on James Gatdet Dak by the Juba regime.

Sincerely yours,

Alliance for South Sudan in Diaspora – Dr. George Phillip Imuro. imurot@yaoo.com
Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan – Theresa Samuel, gappss.info@gmail.com
Human Rights activists – Simon Deng, sdengkak@yahoo.com
Nile Peace Development Relief Agency USA – Dr. Gatluak Deith, gatluakdieth757@gmail.com
South Sudan International Advocacy for Human Rights (SSIAHR) – Peter Gatkuoth W. Kuel, peterkuel@yahoo.com

To IGAD, AU and Troika: Time to Call off Addis Peace Talks & Declare Regime Change in South Sudan

By: J. Nguen, Commentator, analyst & advocate, FEB/14/2018, SSN;

The question today isn’t whether the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS) be revived or not, but rather, it’s whether those who invariably refuses the resuscitation of the agreement must be punished and held to account.

We know for certain that the ARCISS had collapsed on July 8th, 2016, when Dr. Riek Machar was violently pushed out of Juba in what many analysts characterized as a “well-organized assassination” attempt on the life of a man who came to Juba to implement the peace agreement.

We also know that the regional (IGAD) and the USA Administration under former president, Barack Hussein Obama, sided with President Kiir’s regime and placed Dr. Machar under house arrest in South Africa. These are tried cases, but hit dead end.

As a matter of fact, these desperate moves were falsely intended as shortcuts to end the contradictions and bring unfounded peace in South Sudan.

Without any doubt, these fraudulent efforts failed in earnest. Instead, suffering worsened and civil war spread like a wildfire across South Sudan.

In addition, for a year and half, President Kiir was licenced to rein terror on the lives of innocent South Sudanese –free hand; while the world watched on in deafening silence with no condemnations even on moral ground.

Uganda’s President Y. K. Museveni went as far as congratulating Salva Kiir for killing innocent South Sudanese. What a world!

Because of these hopeless contradictions, thousands of innocent of South Sudanese died in the mix. And this is tragic when a rogue regime is unleashed and left unchecked.

In this regard, Salva Kiir’s regime went on rampage, murdering, raping, displacing and destroying innocent South Sudanese’s lives and properties in this unscrupulous world of paradoxes.

After a year of extreme bloodshed, when no news was a good news, when facts there were news of mass murders, raping, displacement and destruction of properties in South Sudan. When hope was so far and beyond reach.

Then, by default, President Donald J. Trump came to power in 2017 in US. Remarkably, President Trump saw the appalling flights of innocent souls in South Sudanese, in an unforgiving million ways and in unforgivable world.

Then, President Trump, moved on moral grounds, sent his top ambassador, Nikkie Haley to south Sudan to see developments, first hand. Amb. Haley was so disgusted and appalled by the flights of decomposing South Sudanese in IDP camps inside the country and in the refugee camps in the neighboring countries.

Like any sane and moral human being, Haley was taken aback by the narrated stories and experiences shared by the victims concerning Salva Kiir’s “scorched earth policy” of ethnic cleansing on all tribes in South Sudan with the exception of Dinka, where Kiir belongs.

For Trump’s administration, this experience revealed the ugly side of Kiir’s regime, and the fact that Kiir doesn’t care about the life and suffering of South Sudanese. This revelation changed the course of President Trump’s administration and its approach toward the civil war in South Sudan.

As a result, President Trump through Amb. Haley, endorsed the resuscitation of the collapsed Peace Agreement in South Sudan in the name of High Level Revitalization Forum under IGAD.

As a result, on the 21st of December 2017, the Cessation of Hostility and unfettered Humanitarian Access Agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, before ink went dry, President Kiir violated the agreement by sending his lieutenants and First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai on offensive in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States.

As a result, thousands of civilians were displaced. And as I write, this violation continues, which in many ways showcase that Kiir and his lieutenants in crime can never be persuaded peacefully.

Despite Kiir’s intransigence, on February 5th, 2018, the High Level Revitalization Forum begun. The aim of the talks is to ensure that peace returns and prevails in South Sudan so suffering of people ends.

However, because President Kiir is so removed from the reality, so stubborn, and the fact that he does not care and fear no one, his troops continued to violate the Cessation of Hostility and restricted humanitarian access to the needy.

Not only that, the regime has arrogantly refused to follow through with the rules of the talks, by overcrowding the venue with un-commissioned personalities just to show defiance and arrogance.

To make matters worse, Kiir gave a middle finger to the IGAD, African Union, EU and Troika by refusing to sign the Declaration of Principles (DoP) for the talks.

Kiir’s delegation refused to sign the DoP on the ground that article 28 on the DoP, which states that “punitive measures” be taken against anyone found to be obstructing the implementation of the peace agreement, is unnecessary and not needed.

In this regard, in my view, this is a fine and explicit defiance and test case for IGAD, AU and the Troika countries. It’s also a serious indication that Salva Kiir is not committed to any peaceful political settlement aimed to end South Sudan’s conflict.

Furthermore, the regime has today sentenced Mr. James Gatdet Dak, former spokesman of Dr. Riek Machar to 20 years life in prison and death by hanging. Note, this is happening while the region and the world is searching for peace to return to South Sudan.

Without any doubt, these undertakings by Salva Kiir are aimed to derail any chance for peace in South Sudan. Salva Kiir rendered peace talks underway in Ethiopia irrelevant and useless.

The question now is, why do we bother for something considered dead on arrival by one party to the conflict? Is this not waste of time and of scarce resources?

In my honest opinion, moving forward with High Level Revitalization Forum is irrelevant, at this point. Therefore, what must be done moving forward, and to make sure that Salva Kiir listen, is a declaration of regime change agenda.

The prospect of the High Level Revitalization Forum succeeding is highly minimal and limited. Salva Kiir’s regime has made it very difficult and revealed that he will not respect it.

With all these signs written on the wall, it’s time for the world at large to change course and abandon this delusional view that Salva Kiir and cohorts might change their minds.

President Kiir believes in military Solution and will not change his mind any time soon, comes rain or sunshine.

As such, I proposed the following grand strategies and options to achieve desirable peace and positive outcomes for conflict in South Sudan:

1. That IGAD, AU, European Union and the Troika countries should immediately suspend peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It’s rather useless to force a donkey to drink when all the indications showed his/her unwillingness.

2. That Troika countries, European Union and the African Union must convene an urgent meeting of “coalition willing” with the Islamic Republic of Sudan, and requests the Khartoum authorities to immediately suspend transportation of South Sudan’s crude oil through its territories. In return, the Troika countries, EU, IGAD and the African Union will divert all the necessary aid.

3. That IGAD, EU, AU and the Troika countries must immediately impose more targeted individual sanctions and travel ban on South Sudan government officials including President Salva Kiir himself and First Vice President Taban Deng.

4. That IGAD, European Union, African Union and the Troika countries must suspend all diplomatic ties with Juba immediately.

5. That Troika countries, EU, IGAD and the AU must immediately impose blanket armed embargo on the Government of South Sudan and suspend all financial support both military and bilateral cooperation with any Eastern and Northern Africa country found to be supporting or colluding with Salva Kiir regime, even remotely.

6. That Troika countries, EU, AU and the IGAD must overwhelmingly support military “regime change” as the only option to depose Kiir regime from power.

These must be the options to walk away with. Because, under the current political configuration in South Sudan, the region’s stability is under serious threat. Under Salva Kiir’s regime, the region is unlikely to be stable.

Evidently, South Sudan is currently a hotbed for the Al-Shahab’s financiers. Secondly, South Sudan Government is harboring and supporting Ethiopian and the Sudanese negative forces -the rebel groups.

Therefore, with these indisputable facts, it’s imperative to note that “REGIME CHANGE” in South Sudan is ONLY the best option. It will bring needed peace in South Sudan and stability to the region.

J. Nguen is a South Sudanese political commentator, analyst and advocate living aboard. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com

Response to VP Taban Deng on blaming American Administration for imposing Arms Embargo on South Sudan

By: Hoth Giw Chan, Jurist Doctor, Unvi. of Massachusetts School of Law, FEB/12/2018, SSN;

Truth hurts, but, it’s the only way out of South Sudan Situation. The American leadership under the President Donald J. Trump, wisely took unprecedented steps to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people who are roaming around in Refugees Camps inside the country (UN-Protection Camps) and in the neighboring countries, due to the failures of their government.

In dealing with the uncompromising stand of the government of South Sudan not to give peace a chance, the U.S, administration selectively sanctioned individuals who were impediments to the peace and who also used their financial powers to finance the conflict.

This was how those of Makuei Lueth, Paul Malong Awan, and Malek Reuben Riak, and Benjamin Bol Mel, got blacklisted by the American government. That was the first step for Trump, administration in taking a serious measures regarding South Sudanese conflict.

This past week, the Trump, administration took another positive step to impose an arms embargo on the Government of South Sudan, as a result of its failure to respect the signed Cessation of Hostility Agreement by the parties.

This step was taken by American administration after it failed to convince the UN Security Council to do the same. Russia and China refused as expected, but that did not deter the American Administration to take a unilateral action on the South Sudanese government.

It shows that the U.S is concerned about the South Sudanese people more than their own government in Juba. In fact, the civilian are now under UN Protection in the UN Camp outside Juba—being protected from a brutal dictator, with minority government ruled by tribal chiefs (JCE).

In response to the action taken by the U.S administration, the Minority Government of Juba (Kiir regime) did the followings:
….(1) recalled its Ambassador based in Washington DC, to Juba,
….(2) summoned U.S, Ambassador to South Sudan, to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, to explained the reason why U.S imposed the sanction,
….(3) decided to build their relationship with China and Russia, and
….(4) rented the crowd to protest on the street of Juba, about the U.S, government decision (the crowd were directed or threatened by the government to protest).

That Minority government of Juba, even went further to issue a threat to the American government when it’s illegitimate Vice President Taban Deng Gai, stated that: “It is the Chinese who will build the roads in South Sudan, not Americans because they are not our partners in our economy. The partners are Chinese and the other potential partners are Russians, they are building a refinery, the first refinery in South Sudan. So these are the people who have been defending us,” said Taban Deng Gai, South Sudan’s First Vice President, on Sunday.

“During the war of liberation, I have never seen the American M16 … I know AK-47, I know the support from Russia, I know the support from Libya, I know the support from Ethiopia and I know the support from Yemen.”

Adding further that “I don’t think he [Trump] is for peace because if peace comes to South Sudan … we shall eat our cassava, we shall eat our sweet potatoes and we shall eat our corn,”

Let me clarify why I think that Minority government in Juba lost it mind, by threatening the U.S. government for taking a right decision to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.

First, as we all know that the American Government—several administrations, invested heavily on South Sudan to be an independence country. This began after the 1990s, when the Socialist Camp (former USSR) collapsed and the international politics favored Western Democratic form of government.

SPLM/A under the leadership of Dr. Garang, switched side, and eventually received humanitarian assistance from the Western countries.

Indeed, at the end of 1990s to early 2000s, the U.S, government helped finance the establishment of the current IGADD (Inter-Government Authority on Drought and Development), which became instrumental in the North-South Peace Process (CPA).

In fact, it was the American pressure through the UN, which brought the CPA—making the establishment of the regional government of Southern Sudan a reality. Without American pressure, it would have taken us some time to defeat the Islamic Government of Bashir, in Khartoum.

On the financial aid of the American Government to South Sudanese people, the $11 billion Dollars the U.S government invested in South Sudan since 2011, are a lot of money, but were mis-managed by people like yourself (Taban) and your brother in corruption (Salva Kiir).

That should not be an American problem why this money were mis-managed by the South Sudan government. I believe you also remember the only paved road from Juba to the Ugandan border (Nimule Road) was built using the American financing.

I have never heard or seen a Chinese or Russian road project connecting South Sudan with an outside world. They might have provided the weapons currently used by those government militia terrorizing civilians in South Sudan.

As for the refinery you talked about being built by the Chinese, the refinery was built because of the contract to pay these Chinese Companies — not that they loved South Sudanese people and donated the refinery to them for free.

It was part of Chinese strategic energy security on the Continent that brought them to South Sudan, when we separated from Sudan.

After separation, we inherited these Chinese Oil Companies from Sudan, when we should have let them go and bring American Oil Companies — the people who actually helped us attain our independence.

As for the statement blaming American government for not providing weapons to SPLM/A during its war with the Sudanese government, I find that pathetic, “During the war of liberation, I have never seen the American M16 … I know AK-47, I know the support from Russia, I know the support from Libya, I know the support from Ethiopia and I know the support from Yemen.”

That statement is pathetic because SPLM/A was a Socialist Movement at the time fighting to instill a Communist form of governance in Sudan. That was the reason why it was assisted by the Socialist Camp, led by USSR.

Why would American government support such an Organization fighting against its principles?

In addition to the above facts on how previous American administrations helped South Sudan, Taban Deng Gai, has forgotten the fact that it was the previous American administration that made it possible for him to bypass the legal process and became the current illegitimate Vice President— thereby bypassing Lado Gore, who was the second man in the hierarchy of the SPLM-IO, and who should have been the head of SPLM-IO, in the absence of the Chairman.

The previous American Administration also help with the detention of the SPLM-IO Chairman in South Africa, thought your minority government is paying for his detention as a way of securing your illegitimate position.

You have to remember that the current American administration under President Trump, is not finished with you yet.

Wait for the next step, which may be to deal with you directly for violating the signed Ceasefire intentionally when you moved your forces to attack SPLM-IO forces in their respective places.

Dr. Hoth Giw Chan.
Jurist Doctor, University of Massachusetts School of Law. Master of Public Administration, Drake University, Iowa. BA, Iowa state university, Ames Iowa.
Email: giwchan@yahoo.com

The catastrophic consequences of South Sudan’s civil war

BY: John Juac Deng, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, FEB/11/2018, SSN;

The independence of South Sudan has been one of the more stirring evens in recent years on the African continent, and yet conflict and instability remain unavoidable in the new state. While there continues to be tension between Juba and Khartoum over oil and several border issues, international community’s major concern is the outcome of the civil war.

Africa’s 55th sovereign state has been mired in bloody civil war since 2013, when President Kiir dismissed Vice President Riek Machar and the rest of his cabinet, accusing them of instigating a coup. Kiir’s move triggered the most full-blow fighting in the capital, Juba, between government forces and rebel soldiers led by Machar and spread to three large provincial cities.

It is still uncertain as to whether Machar had actually planned a coup, but he had intended to challenge Kiir for the leadership of the governing party so that he could run for president in the 2015 election.

South Sudan is new to the ways of democracy and struggling to forge a unified identity out of a patchwork of over 60 often feuding tribes after the longest liberation war.

The only peaceful route to power is through gaining control of the SPLM, and this implied challenging Kiir at the planned third SPLM national convention. Within a more institutionalized political system, the discontent within the SPLM could have left and formed an opposition party. In contemporary South Sudan such a move would be tantamount to a long and possibly indefinite walk in the political wilderness.

The SPLM is thoroughly inter-meshed with the state, and in the stranger world of fact, Kiir is chairman of the SPLM as well as commander-in-chief for the SPLA.

Within the neo-patrimonial state, it is difficult to distinguish between the office of the president, the party leadership and the national army. This has made the state captured by the SPLM different factions attractive.

Consequently, power structures are not transparent, and it is difficult to establish the relative influence of political factions.

In other words, it is much to be regretted that the warring parties are so stupidly blind to their power game that they cannot see the advantage of having a peaceful environment and economic growth in South Sudan.

Despite high-profile mediation efforts by many African and Western governments, they have refused to end the five-year-old conflict that is undermining development gains achieved since independence and worsened the humanitarian situation.

The continuing fighting has killed over 10,000 and displaced 1.5 million people from their homes while a humanitarian crisis threaten many more. The worst fighting has taken place in the oil rich town of Bentiu in Unity State, where hundreds of unarmed civilians have been murdered and their properties either destroyed or looted. Adding to these tragedies is a growing insecurity nationwide.

The United Nations has threatened to impose sanctions on both sides as they are guilty of the use of child soldiers and massacre of civilians, but the threat has not had any significant impact on the warring SPLM leaders.

While Machar, languishing in South Africa’s confinement, says his rebel forces are committed to upholding the agreement, he believes that Kiir’s forces have already violated ceasefire.

On the contrary, the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) said Tuesday that Machar’s rebel groups violated cessation of hostilities agreement signed last month in Addis Ababa.

The Juba officials have dubbed the rebel chief as a divisive pretender for power. Machar is a wily operator, switching sides on several occasions during the north-south strife as he sought to strengthen his own position and that of his Nuer ethnic group in the murky political waters of South Sudan.

He is very ambitious to take the top office in the land, and nothing else matters, but most people in the country do not see him as a national leader.

On the other hand, the civil war in South Sudan has had major repercussions on the already struggling economy. The economic future will largely depend on the outcome of the civil war and its substantial proven oil reserves.

From the beginning of the conflict until the end of January 2014, oil dropped 20%, which had a huge effect on world markets.

When Kiir and Machar did not reach to uphold the peace agreement, the production decreased even more and the economy continued to struggle. The Juba regime derives about 98% of its budget revenues from oil.

Not only has the civil war had major effects on oil production, but also South Sudan’s relationship with the former colonial master heavily influences its national economy since the new-born country seeks to build another pipeline.

Beyond oil, its economy depends upon agriculture and pastoral activity. South Sudan is one of the richest agricultural areas with its fertile soil and abundant water supply.

Agricultural activity is mainly pastoral, with the main domestic livestock being cattle, along with smaller livestock such as sheep, goats, camels and chickens. The central economic question relates to the length of the conflict and its outcome.

Despite its abundance of natural resources, South Sudan remains one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. For example, only 15% of South Sudanese own a mobile phone.

Before fighting broke out in late 2013, the country looked to undertake many development projects including railroad projects, tarmac key roads, redevelopment of the port at Lamu and hydroelectric dam.

For these big economic projects to take off, a peaceful environment is urgently needed, so the small business owners call upon Kiir and Machar to focus on restoring peace and economy. The economy has felt significant negative effects from the conflict.

Even before the conflict, South Sudan experienced widespread poverty and now according to the UN, 3.7 million people are in need of food due to the displacement of thousands of South Sudanese and increased poverty.

In conclusion, South Sudanese have known little but war. The current conflict has led to a terrible human slaughter, worst humanitarian and economic crises and intensified debates in social media over SPLM’s capacity and suitability to govern South Sudan.

The intensification of identity politics might also affect the political demands on the opposition and narrow down the range of possible solutions to the conflict.

In the worst-case scenario, it might damage the integrity of South Sudan as a political unit; an integrity which was fragile in the first place.

So, one believes that a solution to the conflict is urgently needed; otherwise, the social media revolutionary warriors should continue to issue a ringing declaration calling upon the nation to rise and strive for national salvation.

John Juac Deng
Independent writer
juacd@yahoo.ca