BY: Atem Philip Mabior, BOR, JONGLEI, AUG/30/2013, SSN;
It has now become public knowledge that the names of five candidates from Greater Upper Nile region were submitted to the President in order to choose one that shall be taken to the National Legislative Assembly for approval. The former Minister of Justice, John Luk Joak, is among the five candidates who seek to become the next Speaker of South Sudan parliament.
It has to be born in mind that any member of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly has a right to compete for the position of the Speaker. But the members of the Assembly have also a right to reject a candidate on moral, political and social grounds.
If a candidate is too controversial and has a history of not being candid, the August House has a right not to vote for such a candidate to become the Speaker.
It is a convention that a Speaker must be a man or a woman with integrity, morality and free from political corruption.
Although ceremonially, the speaker represents the whole house, it is politically the legislative voice of the party in power. In our context, the next Speaker would be the legislative voice of the SPLM party which is the party that has majority members in parliament.
Besides, the speaker’s official role is to moderate debates, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house.
There are so many reasons which disqualify Hon. John Luk to become the next Speaker of National Legislative Assembly. These reasons should not be taken lightly by the members of the Assembly because the Speaker has a power to determine the stability of the House.
In order for the three branches of South Sudan government to cooperate and function properly, there are so many reasons to question the candidacy and the suitability of John Luk.
The first thing which disqualifies John Luk to become the Speaker is the fact that he was (allegedly) the one who drafted the six points raised by Riek Machar against President Salva Kiir in March this year.
The six points John Luk drafted for Riek Machar are corruption, tribalism, nepotism, insecurity, foreign policy and lack of sound economic policies to develop the country.
It was John Luk who advised Riek Machar in a Nuer meeting to depose Salva Kiir from SPLM Party leadership because of the aforementioned six points.
Riek Machar had never thought to run against President Salva Kiir in the SPLM Party Convention until he was encouraged and awakened to do so by nobody other than John Luk Joak.
Everybody knows that Riek Machar was made to believe that the Nuer would be behind him because of the support of John Luk.
It was (allegedly) reported by a reliable Nuer source that John Luk assured Riek Machar to get the support of Lou Nuer in the military including Lou Nuer Prophet Dak Kueth should there be a military confrontation between him and President Salva Kiir.
After Riek Machar declared his intentions to run against President Kiir, John Luk pretended to have left his camp when he learned that Dr. Riek Gai Kok met with President Salva Kiir.
Since Riek Gai is a rival of John Luk in Akobo County of Jonglei State, he advised Riek Machar that he should return to Salva Kiir’s camp temporarily in order to save his ministerial post from being taken by Dr. Riek Gai Kok.
Actually, John Luk pretended to have returned to President Kiir not because he wanted to work with him in principle. But it was a tactic to conserve his position while working from within to fail President Salva Kiir.
Since it is true that John Luk is the architect and the intellectual author of the split between President Kiir and his former Vice-president Riek Machar, should he be nominated as the Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly?
Since John Luk was the very person who advised Riek Machar to rebel against the chairman of the SPLM Party, what would prevent him to encourage the supporters of Riek Machar to table an impeachment motion against President Kiir once he becomes the Speaker?
From a political point of view, the best way to depose President Salva Kiir from power is to nominate the architect of the six points as the Speaker to facilitate the supporters of Riek Machar to table a motion of impeachment.
If such a thing happens, the only way for President Kiir to save himself would be to dissolve the Assembly — a decision which has serious consequences internationally and domestically because it may lead to political instability.
What the enemies of President Kiir want is to see that he dissolves parliament so that he is projected as a dictator who operates without a legislative organ.
Given the character of John Luk and his temperament, he is capable of instigating such a political crisis in the National Assembly should he become the next Speaker.
Nominating John Luk as the Speaker of the Assembly is akin to releasing a Spanish bull in Chinatown in New York City!!!
John Luk himself is perfectly aware of his controversial politics throughout the liberation struggle of South Sudan that is why he didn’t mention in his Curriculum Vitae some of the bad political decisions he had taken in 1990s.
When he disseminated his CV to members of the Assembly on August 26, he didn’t mention that he was the one who drafted the Frankfurt Agreement between the SPLM/A—Nasir faction and the Government of Sudan headed by Dr. Ali El Hag.
In that agreement, John Luk prearranged the capitulation of the Nasir faction to be used by the enemy of the people of South Sudan against the SPLM/A—Torit faction of Dr. John Garang de Mabior.
The same way he drafted the Frankfurt Agreement of 1991 is the same way he drafted the six points that Riek Machar used in March, 2013 to declare in SPLM Political Bureau meeting that he would remove Salva Kiir from the party leadership.
Moreover, John Luk proved to be a dubious character who cannot stay in one camp for a long when he left South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) of Riek Machar in 1994 without resigning officially.
He, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, William Nyuon and Ben Joseph Oduho formed a separate faction that later rejoined the SPLM/A-Mainstream.
One of the reasons he left Riek Machar’s Movement is because he was apprehended for (allegedly) instigating clan war between Lou and Jikany Nuer clans — a charge that was proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the court martial set up to investigate him.
His politics of duplicity reached its zenith when he joined South Sudan Liberation Movement/A (SSLM/A) of late Dr. Michael Wal Duany in 2000 without resigning officially from the SPLM/A—Mainstream.
Due to such a dishonesty, Dr. John Garang was forced to dismiss him from the SPLM/A and was stripped of all the military ranks of the Movement from a Commander to a Private.
Another reason why John Luk cannot become the Speaker of the Assembly is because when he was the Minister of Justice, he refused to draft a bill that could give Anti-Corruption Commission the power to prosecute officials engaged in malpractices and corrupt activities.
Despite his window dressings and publicity deception, he was totally against the prosecution of the companies involved in what is now known as the Grain Scandal.
It is (allegedly) rumoured that the reason he refused the companies involved in the scandal to be prosecuted is to protect his political friends.
It is also (allegedly) reported by a reliable source that was part of his office management that John Luk signed illegal contracts with oil companies when he was the Minister of Mining and Petroleum during the transitional period before the independence of South Sudan.
Those alleged contracts amounted to $150 million dollars and the money was not disbursed to public treasury. Those contracts violated the laws of bidding and ethical practices.
If he is now running to become the Speaker of the Assembly, perhaps, it is the right time for him to come out clean and tell the public the reasons why he awarded contracts to oil companies without following regulations.
Members of the South Sudan National Assembly also have a right to hear from the horse own mouth whether the allegations brought against him in regard to the oil contracts are indisputable.
The members of the Assembly must exercise wisdom and care in nominating the next Speaker of parliament because it is the most important institution in South Sudan that shall curb corruption by subjecting the executive branch to serious scrutiny.
The National Legislative Assembly exercises the following functions: overseeing the performance of the National Government institutions; approving plans, programmes and policies of the National Government; approving budgets; ratifying international treaties, conventions and agreements and adopting resolutions on matters of public concern.
The NLA has the power of summoning Ministers to answer questions of members of the Assembly on matters related to their ministries; interrogating Ministers about their performance or the performance of their ministries and approving appointments as required by the Transitional Constitution or the law.
Finally, the NLA has power of casting a vote of no confidence against the Vice President and any Minister; enacting legislation to regulate the conditions and terms of service of the Judiciary and its oversight mechanisms; and performing any other function as determined by the Transitional Constitution or the law.
In closing, one would seriously advise the chairman of the SPLM and members of the National Assembly that John Luk Joak has so many skeletons in his closet to be nominated as a Speaker.
Due to his history of duplicity, he is not a reliable person to become the Speaker of parliament.
If cooperation between the executive and legislature is crucial for smooth functioning of the government, John Luk is not the right candidate to become the Speaker because of the reasons enumerated above.
·The author is a civil servant in Bor town, Jonglei State and was an officer of the SPLM/A in 1990s. He could be reached at peterkiir@hotmailcom