Contextualizing the Latest Round of Republican Decrees

BY: Tongun Lo Loyuong, South Sudan, JUL/25/2013, SSN;

Not too long ago I wrote several articles in response to almost every round of presidential decrees in the past few months. In contextualizing the latest round of Republican Decrees, it is worth stressing that in the past I mostly supported and praised those decrees as constructive and longed for them to ceaselessly continue.

In an article entitled “The Here and Not Yet of National Reconciliation Debate in South Sudan,” published on South Sudan Nation website on April 18th, 2013, I commended the decree that withdrew the delegated duties from the Vice-president, particularly on his assignment to lead the national reconciliation initiative.

As I argued on that occasion, the Vice-president should not have been tasked with leading the process in the first place, because his credibility to spearhead the process was always politically and morally questionable.

It was politically questionable because he was seen as utilizing the initiative to promote a political agenda and bag some points in his campaign for the top office in the land, whereas a genuine reconciliation exercise must be immune from politics and political power struggles.

In our current buzzword, we might say the initiative in its older version was therefore, fraught with “political motivation.” Moreover, the Vice-president’s credibility as I noted was also morally dubious, because he was seen as a key player in the conflict dating back to the 1991 inter-communal violence in the Greater Upper Nile Region.

I concluded that piece by urging for the church to be mandated to lead the national reconciliation initiative instead, if the process were to command any meaning and integrity. The church I emphasized boasts more neutrality and moral authority and credibility in the eyes of most South Sudanese.

The response to that article swiftly arrived in the following Republican Decrees days later, where the church was indeed assigned to lead the new commission on the national healing, peace and reconciliation process. In reaction, I wrote another piece entitled “The Battle for Winning the Hearts and Minds of South Sudanese,” again published on South Sudan Nation on April 29th, 2013, where I applauded the President for the decrees. I then made the case that the President seems to have turned a corner and was beginning to be responsive and downwardly oriented and accountable to the people.

I concluded that in order for the President to potentially secure a third term in the office, he must begin to win the hearts and minds of South Sudanese through drastic policy changes that curb corruption, deliver services, and improve livelihoods. The President I stressed must at least be seen to be making concrete political gestures and efforts toward that end.

However, I declined to comment on the next sequence of decrees, particularly those that suspended and subjected the two Honorable Ministers, Ahmed Deng Alor and Kosti Manibe for investigation in misappropriation of public funds allegations. Though I was itching to comment because of the relevance of the decrees in the context of previous discussions, I nonetheless refrained from commentary on this occasion simply to create space for the rule of law and the investigations to take their course.

In addition, I was beginning to be disillusioned and frustrated based on the debate that surfaced in the wake of these decrees. The political rhetoric that followed seems to suggest that “political motivations” were beginning to dictate some of these decrees, and undermine our state-building and nation-building aspirations, particularly as the rudimentary rule of law in the land is seen to be inequitably applied across ethnic and clan lines.

I vented my frustration in an article entitled “Cry the Beloved South Sudan in its Second Independence Anniversary,” where I concluded that in order to celebrate the true independence of South Sudan, the land must first be liberated from the “liberators.”

This article was followed by another article published on South Sudan News Agency and South Sudan Nation websites on July 20th, 2013, and entitled “Is Samantha Power’s Appointment as US Ambassador to the UN a Glimmer of Hope for South Sudan?” In this article I basically appealed for our friends to help liberate us, because the country has not lived up to the expectations two years down the road of independence.

South Sudan, I argued is living through the “Troubles,” and unless some major political reforms were undertaken our future looks bleak.

Following this article there was the rather dramatic though widely expected turn of events, on July 23rd, 2013, where President Kiir Mayardit sent out ripple effects at home and abroad by issuing the next series of presidential decrees—a record four consecutive decrees and one Chairperson’s order.

As many expected, the first Republican Decree No. 49/2013 showed Dr. Riek Machar Teny the government exit door and relieved him from his position as the Vice-president of the Republic of South Sudan all together.

The second Republican Decree No. 50/2013 is perhaps the biggest surprise. It dissolved the cabinet by booting the entire National Ministers, though in actuality many again were eagerly anticipating some cabinet reshuffle, especially within the context of the eagerly awaited significant reforms that many have demanded. As such it was actually about time the cabinet reshuffle was realized. It was dramatic, nevertheless and hopefully to a good end result.

The cabinet reshuffle decree was followed by a third Republican Decree No. 51/2013 that equally kicked out all National Deputy Ministers of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, and appointed under-secretaries as caretakers to run their respective ministries until further notice when a new National Government will be formed.

Again there is little surprise in that front in light of the cabinet reshuffling as part of a major reform project in the Government of South Sudan.

In like manner, the fourth Republican Decree No. 14/2013 declared the reduction and restructuring of the Ministries, which are to be reduced to a handsome 19 Ministries only, from a previous whooping and ineffectual 29 Ministries. This restructuring and trimming of the Ministries has also been the popular demand of many if not most South Sudanese, especially when seen from the perspective of the austerity measures, and our continued economic strangulation by Khartoum and the whole oil dependence syndrome in the land.

And finally, the President issued a separate Chairperson Order No. 1/2013 on his capacity as the Chairperson of the SPLM in which the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, who doubles as the Chief peace negotiator on the remaining post-secession issues with Khartoum, was suspended and subjected to investigation for allegations that may be summed up as exhibiting insubordination to his senior, creation of disrepute in the party, and inciting tribal violence in the country.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. James Wani Igga, has been mandated with spearheading the investigation of Mr. Amum. He is to be aided by several senior members of the SPLM party, including the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Daniel Awet and Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk of Jonglei State among others.

As to be expected the Presidential decrees have met with mixed reactions by analysts and average South Sudanese citizens alike. On the one hand, some have been quick to voice a concern or two over the timing and the potential negative repercussions of the decrees on the already precarious peace climate in the land.

The argument that this group is making is that given the fragile peace atmosphere in different regions across the country, the last thing South Sudan needs is another spate of political brinkmanship with whatever is left of the relative peace in the country.

Thus, those on the peace, security and stability side are concerned about the response of the axed cabinet and party members, particularly the response of the Vice-president and the SPLM Secretary General on the constitutionality of the decrees or the general response to the President’s move in their political bases.

Some also fear that whatever gains made on the post-secession negotiating table as well as the outstanding issues currently being negotiated, may be undermined by relieving the chief-negotiator from the South’s side, Pagan Amum.

Meanwhile other observers are concerned about the continued oil row and the implications of Amum’s removal in resuming its flow, in addition to the resolution of the remaining outstanding issues currently on the negotiation table. But these concerns must be allayed by the fact that there are numerous South Sudanese conflict resolution and conflict management experts who can fill the void left by Mr. Amum on the protracted negotiation table with Khartoum.

Speaking of which, Khartoum, took no time to assure everybody that it remains committed to honor previous signed agreements, including the cooperation agreement! One wonders if what Khartoum meant was that it remained committed to dishonor and not honor the previous signed deals, since its recent decision to stop oil production and export through its pipe lines yet again, cannot be read outside Khartoum’s poor track record of dishonoring agreements.

However, that aside, and on the other hand, the latest republican decrees have received many plaudits both from within and from without the country. Except for the constitutionality and political motivation debate, the decrees on the government overhaul can be characterized as timely given the increasing popular demands, not least from the international community urging the President to embark on significant reforms to liberate the country from stagnation and free falling toward unknown future.

As such any concerns on potential violent eruption across ethnic lines or what not are, therefore misplaced. South Sudanese have seen enough violent suffering in our lives and are mature enough to avoid treading this self-destructive path.

If anything, these changes must be seen as the beginning of genuine democratic processes where the government is perhaps beginning to be accountable to the people. But what is now needed from the President is to form a new lean and clean technocratic government to move us forward in the nation-building, state-building and peace-building process at the center of which must be service delivery and infrastructure development in South Sudan.

As for the removed Vice-president Dr. Machar, he will have his chance to lead this country, and he may well be more effective in designing that aspiration in time for the 2015 national elections, by holding the government accountable as an opposition outside the government. This simply is how democracy functions.

Nonetheless, I applaud the Vice-president’s courage and composure in handling this latest cycle of Republican Decrees with utmost civility and democratic spirit, by urging his base to remain calm.

Indeed as the Vice-president wrote on his Facebook account in reaction to the decrees, “Dear friends & fans, this is to confirm the news of my relief as the VP of the republic. Though I heard it in the news like all of you, but I wasn’t surprised. Please remain calm and be assured that our aspiration to lead this country to prosperity and stability won’t be intimidated by anything. We’ve chosen to handle everything politically and this is how we’re going to continue.”

tloloyuong@gmail.com

12 Comments

  1. Dear Tongun,
    Actually, what if one can say the presidential decree isn’t the case people start yelling themselves at this critical moment in case of the tribal chaotic phobia in which we could be out-bursting since the dissolution of ministers, dismissal of the South Sudan VP, suspension SPLM its SG, and many amongst others.

    However, our dream as South Sudan is sometimes very complicated to find an answer that could be related to it, because of our bad thoughts for doom things to happen at the first place, and later we are reinstating to the good ones after having witnessed the total destruction.

    Yes, I’m always stood behind the right factual things that will help our people of South Sudan, imagine I had joined this so called SPLM/A during its latest struggle, specially at my tender age IN 1988, I WALKED ALL THE WAYS FROM MY VILLAGE WHERE I WAS BORN TO ETHIOPIA UNTIL I HAVEN’T BEEN GIVING UP THE SUPPORT FOR MY SOUTH SUDANESE PEOPLE.

    LET ME TELL YOU THIS A SHORT WORD HERE, IT WAS BEFORE DAYS OF OUR LATE CHAIRMAN OF THE SPLM/A FOUNDER’S DEATH ON PLANE CRASH WHICH WAS CARRYING HIM TO HIS MH/Q AT NEWSITE. I DREAMT AS IF I WAS GIVEN A BLACK WEARING BELT ENGRAVED WITH A PORTRAIT OF HIS HEAD ON THE FASTENED MENTAL, THEN I WOKE UP AND ASKED MYSELF; WHAT A BAD DREAM I HAVE HAD, MY GOD? ABSOLUTELY, IN TWO DAYS AFTER MY BAD DREAM ABOUT DR. JOHN GARANG’S HEAD ON THE BELT THEN CAME HIS DEATH ON PLANE CRASH.

    OF COURSE, WHY I’M TRYING TO NARRATE SUCH AN INDIVIDUALISTIC INSPIRATION THAT IS BECAUSE WE ARE VAIBLE TO BAD THINGS, ESPECIALLY WE SOUTH SUDANESE PEOPLE; MOST OF US BELIEVE IN NEGATIVISM AS WHAT SHOULD COME FIRST IN OUR MINDS THAN CHANCES FOR A POSITIVISM. WELL, HOW ARE WE GOING TO LEARN INTROVERTINGLY OR EXTROVERTINGLY IF WE ARE INCITING FOR A TRIBAL POLITICS INSTEAD OF THINKING IN WHICH WAYS WE SHOULD GET RID OFF SUCH VIRULENCE THAT SEEM TO MUTE US OFF.

    IN ORDER TO MOVE ON FORWARD WITH A GREAT PROSPECTIVE IN WHICH OUR COUNTRY’S SAKE SHOULD BE FIRST THING, WE MUST THINK DAILY AND STOP BACKING OUR LEADERS IN TRIBALISTIC POLITICS THAT MAY NOT BE REASONABLE TO OUR WELL BEING IN TODAY’S WORLDWIDE LIFE EXPERIENCE.

    FINALLY, I’M ONLY WORRIED ABOUT THE TRIBAL WAR, NOT FOR HOW THEY HAVE BEEN RELIEVED OFF THEIR JOBS BY SOUTH SUDAN’S PRESIDENT SALVA KIIR. LET’S WAIT PATIENTLY SO THAT WE COULD SEE THE NEW FACES APPOINTED MINISTERS, VP, SPLM-SG, AND SO FORTH AS PER CHANGE WE HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING FOR.

  2. BigO says:

    It’s always so absurd to see cabinet members (now former ones) take to their Facebook pages….Comes across as very juvenile and unprofessional. The indignation of the people relieved is fascinating. If either Amum or Riak had been President, and Kiir had run to the internet to ‘communicate’ his grievances with his boss, don’t we think Amum and Riak would have responded in exactly the same way as Kiir has? What exactly did they expect? If the top men in government don’t feel that they can effectively communicate with each other in the State structures which they themselves have created and endorsed, what does that say about the lives and frustrations of citizens who have been subjected to their State for too long now?

    I admire the patience of South Sudanese citizens. They’ve sat through 14 years of roadshows (1991-2005) and now another 8 (2005-2013).

  3. Tongun Lo Loyuong,

    These Republican Decrees were written by a group of idiots and goofy team against particular individuals and the decrees were approved by a foolish president who never won even a single battle during struggle without consent of vice president or executive committee.
    If the writers of those republican decrees were for the South Sudan citizens, then why they gave the president too much power to play with the citizens? Everyone fought for this country, the laws should not have been written in favor of one person. Why the ministers are being rotated like foot ball players? The president of South Sudan is the only president in the world that is above the laws. The constitution of South Sudan does not restrict president from doing anything. WAW! I wonder why the laws permit the rotation of ministers but not rotation of president which means president Kiir is smarter than anyone else in South Sudan including those stupid committee who wrote the constitutions. Shame on you, the writers of constitutions.

    What law protects the candidates who want to run for the public office from being abused by the president?
    What laws protects the right of vice-president from being abused by the president?
    What law protects the right of governors from being abused by the president?
    What law protects the right of ordinary citizens from being abused by the governors and president?
    What decree protects the right of ministers from being abused by the president?

    I believe there is no any kind of decree that protects these individuals’ rights, so the South Sudan belongs to President Kiir and we the rest are visitors.

    Good luck on your constitutions, South Sudan Citizens.

    • BigO says:

      I’m liking those powers of the President right about now. Little did the thieves know that the constitution that they themselves endorsed would come to bite them where it counts! Hahaha, sweet justice! If the President manages to pull this off and bring in a new, more effective and less corrupt cabinet, he has saved us from those ministers who were eating the country alive.

      1. Reshape (not just reshuffle) the cabinet;
      2. Bring in people who have actually lodged complaints against corruption (not just spoken about it for media points);
      3. Clean out the advisors, Heads of Commissions, Parliament (thugs here too);
      4. Work with the new Cabinet to create an inclusive Constitution that can be be subjected to a Referendum;
      5. Request foreign governments to freeze the accounts of former cabinet members and their families;
      6. Trust the people. South Sudanese are patient, forgiving people (not speaking of Juba fools here) who, contrary to popular misconception, do not expect too much — simply the basics.
      7. Relax about 2015. Do the right things now and the people will beg for your return. The current alternatives who have thrown their hats into the ring are hardly interesting, hardly viable.

      What if the President wanted the Constitution as he did not because he didn’t like or trust the people but because he knew the lack of integrity of the former ministers? Something to consider.

      • BigO says:

        In 2007, 2008 Juba was a very different place than it is now. Though it was generally safe, the ministers and parliamentarians were paranoid as hell and what I realized is that they are more terrified of each other than they are of the people. In fact, they are their own worst enemies. This latest roadshow shows that clearly. They are scared to death of each other!!!

      • BigO says:

        8. Look at non-SPLM members like Gabriel Changson. Promote him as a signal that the new cabinet is open to creating an inclusive government.
        9. Etc.

  4. A. Peat says:

    Indeed, Mr. Loyuong, the rift between the two powerful men (Dr. Machar & president Kiir) may be “a blessing in disguise” for the South Sudanese!!!!!!!

  5. Live of citizen of South Sudanese is very importance to everyone in this Country. Within SPlM there are good numbers which were cut out. let them debate before the presidential decree is successful. when he’s given chance, he will take us back to kill our loved ones because he will block us from practising the democratic rights in this Country. God bless South Sudan.

  6. Tong Mayay says:

    Good

  7. Joseph Milla says:

    Dear Mr Togun,
    This is a superb scanning of the whole situation in the country. I hope those relieved, of course mostly from the ruling elites, will not make it back to public office. Indeed, the whole of their tenure in the office was characterized by nothing other than a “notorious club of parasites and hang-on groomed by the the SPLM” and paid by tax payers money.
    What the public needs to see now is a clean and developmental minded elites to take on the challenges the country is facing. This will save the cowboy at least for now otherwise coming 2015 our votes counts and the dancing will be different from the one of 2010 where SPLM is salvation.

  8. These decrees of cabinet and sacking of VP Dr. Riek Machar were sorted out by ridiculous group of people whose minds are not as normal as human beings mind since the only right person in our nation, South Sudan, is Dr. Machar, who brought this nation.
    Those intrusive people who always trying to use tyranny force, their happiness will turn to cries as long as they conspire against Dr. Riek.
    Take a look at President’s head, there is nothing in his mind to produce for the whole people of S.S at large.

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