Rule of Law versus Rule of Man: Where is South Sudan?

BY: Biel Boutros Biel, USA, OCT/17/2013, SSN;

President Salva Kiir Mayardit stated in 2012 that: “……our struggle was to make human rights a reality in South Sudan; therefore, as an independent nation, we must strive to build our new nation on values and principles of our Constitution and human rights ideals”

However, two years of its independence, South Sudan remains a country in which our leader uses power to oppress and dictate interests of the governed contrary to the Constitution.

Prof. A.V. Dicey believes that rule of law means, “equality before the law and that no one is above the law.” Arguably, Justice Prof. George Kanyeihamba states in the affirmative that: “A government which performs any act which is not supported by any law, is as guilty of violating the rule of law as an individual or a group of them who take the law into their own hands.”

There is no freedom of speech, expression and media. In November 2011, Destiny Newspaper Editor Ngor Garang and his deputy Dengdit Ayok became the first victims. Dengdit wrote an article entitled; “Nyan Bany” (Daughter of the President), criticizing the marriage of the daughter of the first family to an Ethiopian national.

He asserted that this marriage would lead to the leaking of national secrets to the foreign land through the daughter as there are no secrets between a couple. That landed the editors more than two weeks’ detention by the National Security.

Kiir’s family could have used the civil law to sue the Newspaper if they believed the article defamed them but they didn’t instead used sword over the helpless editors.

Other victims of abuse of rule of law included Isaiah Abraham. He was gunned down on December 5, 2012, due to his views on looming dictatorship. Dr. Marial Benjamin, the former Minister of Information and Broadcasting (now the foreign minister) made wild promises for government’s speedy investigations of the case, yet no perpetrators have been held accountable to date.

In May 2013, former BBC Correspondent Alfred Taban and editor Michael Koma were detained for 8 hour-interrogations and 3 days’ detention respectively. The orders came from the former Deputy Minister of Interior Gen. Salva Mathok Gengdit.

He claimed defamation in an article published by Juba Monitor run by the two journalists in which Bul-Nuer community accused the Minister of murdering their late young man Banyjioth Mathoat Tap.

The late was found dead on March 30th 2013 beneath the premises of the Minister and with blood stains thinly pinning the lines inside to the Minister’s premises. That created more confusion than one would imagine though!

In Juba alone, John Louis Silvio, civil society member Modessa Wiyual Manytap, Reverends Manasse Matayo, Idris Nalos Kida and David Gayin, were mysteriously disappeared, but were believed to have been picked up by the Military Intelligence or National Security agents.

President Kiir has removed the elected governors of Lakes and Unity states as allowed by the unpopular provision of Article 101(r) of the Constitution that empowers the President to remove the State Governor and dissolve the State Legislative Assembly in the event of an emergency that threatens national security.

In Unity State, there was no any emergency that threatened national security and so did the Lakes state that has up to now thin pockets of clannish clashes which do not amount to an emergency that threatens the national security.

Shockingly to the public expectations, Jonglei State Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk who has failed to curb insecurities which continue to claim thousands of lives of innocent civilians as he failed to devise better ways of curving tribal clashes along side rebellions could have been the one removed long time ago.

Instead, however, President Kiir recently removed him and promoted him to a National Defence Minister. In all his acts, the President is expected to respect the Constitution.

To the contrary, so far no gubernatorial elections have been held within 60 days as required by Article 101(s) of the Constitution.

Recently, President Kiir also ordered the Parliament to endorse the new Vice President Hon. James Wani Igga and the new Speaker Hon. Magok Rundial respectively without any obedience to the Constitution that establishes the Parliament.

Lakes State imposed military caretaker Governor and Upper Nile Governor as empowered by the President have undermined through threats the State Parliaments. The list is endless.

The noble question that should be asked by any sane South Sudanese is: where is the rule of law?

South Sudan ruling party instead stands with the rule of man!

President Kiir has chosen to govern in a way that dishonours his people’s struggle for liberty while publicly talking about the importance of human rights.

The situation requires action and our silence is a betrayal of those who died to make us live today.

Elie Wiesel firmly once stated;

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

So what is required now? The Parliament should impeach the President and calls for Presidential elections within 60 days.

We should wake up from this deep sleep and ask tough questions including: why did we fight Sudan for over two decades?

Courageously, we should discuss the kind of Constitution we want, which protects and preserves the gains and the will of the people and not that glorifying the President as a “semi-god.”

The document must be passed through a referendum. A commission for the Implementation of the Constitution should be formed. Civil Society, religious institutions and academic think-tanks, should hold more discussion and debates in leading the ways for good governance.

The diplomatic missions and friends of South Sudan at international arena should support democratic efforts through financial assistance and open critique of the evils. They should push for strong institutions which promote rule of law and human rights.

The Anti-Corruption Commission must be supported and by law, an Anti-Corruption Court is established to try corruption cases.

An independent Constitutional Court must be set up to deal with all human rights violations. The Law Reform Commission must be well structured to start reviewing the jungle laws including the Penal Code to conform to democratic transformation.

If nothing positively happens per se, then a regime change must be a remaining option.

Finally, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu warns us when he states: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor, if an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

It is my considered view that to save ourselves and for posterity, we must act now not tomorrow!

Biel Boutros Biel is Lawyer, The Executive Director of South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy and Co-Chair of National Human Rights Forum with South Sudan Human Rights Commission. He has served as columnist (JUNGLE REFLECTIONS) at The Sudan Tribune Newspaper and former reporter of The Citizen English Daily. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in Human Rights Advocates Program at Columbia University, New York City, USA. The views expressed here are his not of the institutions he is associated with. He can be reached on:


  1. Chaka, Jill says:

    The good Lords teaches us, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” The Cowboy president says many good things but his fruits are rotten, They are fruits of Oppressions, Corruptions, nepotism and annihilations! He is inept, democratically barren “Luti” in our local Arabic. The worse of his crime is the destruction of Rule of law. Why is this so crucial, It is because the rule of law provides us the means to address our grievances through civil and democratic means, It gives us equality in reaching our dreams and goals for our new country, But when such is broken down, When demonstrators in the streets of Wau are gunned down, When the civil leaders who speak for the people in Wau and Nimule are thrown in Jail without warrants, Without respect to the constitutions, without charges, When opinion writers like Isaiah Abraham is gunned down, When the elite who embezzled millions are untouched and when the commoner on the street who steals bread is condemned to Jail, Then the only means left to address grievance is by the gun,.
    Why does our President and elites whom most had spent so much of their lives in bush fighting for us all push our country into such a brink? This is my greatest concern!

  2. kikisik says:

    Mr. Biel Boutros,
    That was a nice analysis- thank you very much. I think people of South Sudan have had enough of this corrupt government, may be 2015 is the last resort. But despite all these, president die-heart supporters
    still stand by their man- the president”.Leaders come Leaders go, but South Sudan will remain forever”

    • Dear Kikisik:

      Please let me assure you that there are no die hard supporters for the president as you asserted in your comment,however there are indeed some die hard supporters for the Dinka tribe. In fact, President Kiir is the national figure and was elected president by the people of South Sudan. Therefore he is subjected to any kind of compliments and/or criticism due to his excellent and/or poor performance as president of the Republic of South Sudan.

      Unfortunately however, what infuriates those you perceive as the die hard supporters of president Kiir is the unwarranted attack on their tribe and not the president. Some of you believe that the Dinkas are not human being, therefore they do not deserve any credit as people or tribe at all. Those Kokora Veterans such as Elhag Paul and the likes enjoyed it very much when the Dinka was at war with Jalaba and other South Sudanese tribes and traitors during the liberation war. The Anti Dinka were celebrating in silence during the war inside and outside South Sudan. They were hoping that the end of the mighty Dinka has come. They never thought that the mighty Jieng would survive the war and raised up the flag of free nation.

      Aside from Jurchol, Jurbel and Bongo tribes, could you name a tribe that does not hate Jieng and whose hands are clean from the innocent blood of Jieng in South Sudan? Compatriot, the Jieng has suffered long enough during the liberation of this Country and it does not deserve to continue to suffer and be humiliated during the time of peace.

      If you and your mentor Elhag Paul criticize president Kiir without implicating Jieng to corruption and his poor leadership, you will not hear Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang wanting to bite your ears off like the Iron Mike Tyson. Do you recall that I used to admire your comments on this forum until you became a die hard supporter and student in Mr.Elhag Paul’s school of Anti Dinka? Perhaps president Kiir has disappointed you and Mr. Elhag Paul by eating the Bread by himself alone in the native soil of Equatoria. However, What does the eating of Bread and poor leadership has to do with the Dinka tribe, Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang, Leader, John Khot, Dan and Majongdit on this forum?. My dear Compatriots, please be informed that if you hate Kiir due to his poor leadership in the Country, no Dinka would stand in your way to defend him unless otherwise you want to kill him. Having said that , however any member of the Jieng Community across the globe would bite your ears off if you blame the corruption and the poor leadership of president Kiir on Dinka tribe. You and the likes should know that Kiir is not Jieng tribe and Jieng tribe is not Kiir, and not all the Dinkas are involved in the corruption and are benefiting from the government of president Kiir Mayardit. Capito/Understand?

      I totally agreed with the assertion or statement that leaders come and go, but Country remains for all. In fact, When Abel Alier became the first president of the High Executive Council government in South Sudan in 1970’s , everybody including the insects and Birds living in the Equatorian soil complained of his poor governancet and blamed it on the entire Jieng Community.

      After the fall of Abel Alier’s government or the so called Dinka government in 1980’s, General Joseph Lagu (Madi), James Thumbora (Azande) and Gessimallah Abdal Rasass(Fertit) became presidents of the High executive Council government in South Sudan. Was their governance and leadership better than that of Abel Alier’s or Dinka? No. What did they do better as heads of the Regional authority or government? Nothing. They just brought hatred, kokora and divisions in South Sudan. Therefore I warn you and those who are wishing for the better leadership in 2015 to hold their breaths because no tribe is immune from the ignorance,corruption,nepotism and poor leadership in South Sudan. President Kiir might even be better than those Angels who planning and hoping to ascend into the throne in 2015. Good luck and let us all hope for the best in 2015.

      “The truth hurts but it is worth telling it”
      Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

  3. lilikojo says:

    I definitely appreciate the author on mentioning those victims who lost their lives indeed just because of the greed of some narrow minded self centered individuals who are in real sense could be the symbol of ignorance of the people of south Sudan.
    please the blood of the innocent whom you slaughtered for your own pursuit will always follow you as a dead ghost, until those accountable are brought to book in front of the public even if they are already known in the list.
    God bless you the author and you should keep it up any where in the international media for the world to see the extent we in south Sudan have reached. people judge with their positions in government and not with the law which in fact is a mere shield.
    hell is waiting for you, bandits…..

  4. malith Alier says:

    Parliament will never do that. They themselves (MPs) have been threatened with dismissal but did nothing but acquiesced to the big man. Lots of rights violations will continue for decades under SPLM.

  5. AJ says:

    what else can I say to what you have written. You are the future of the nation, keep voicing what it best for the nation. You are on the right track.


  6. Elhag Paul says:

    Well reasoned. Well done, Biel.

  7. Biel B. Biel says:

    Elhag Paul, AJ, Malith Alier, Lilikojo. Kikisik and Chaka, Jill, thanks for your comments.
    These experimental leaders under Salva Kiir have killed our present and are busy assassinating the future of our children. The situation requires action and the nation cannot remain under hostage of Kiir’s attack on rule of law. We need to ask tough questions why all these evils and what next? The current situation needs no constitutional experts to precisely conclude that the regime has killed the rule of law and as you all put it correctly, rule of law is the mother of good governance, respect of human rights, observance of equity and equality etc.

    Should we wait to speak out till we are dead? That is the question I would urge every young man and woman to think about and as far as I am sure you have the South Sudan at heart, we need to think of “how!” It is not longer “what” to do but how to do it and when to do it, which I think is now!

    As for me, after the gunning down of my colleague Isaiah Abraham, I decided to consider any day a Good Friday for me and until we are not there to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, we must do what our conscience tells us. Let’s not be deceived by these guys who are typical Pharisees who neither going to enter the church nor allow others to worship true God!

    Where did they fight alone? Which front-lines did they always fight? Were we not the ones going to the frontlines while they enjoyed UN WFP drops and their children were begging biscuits at every refugee camp? Have they forgotten they ordered us to be in trenches with antonov planes over us? Were they there with us? Where? Any commander who died, did so in an ambush or antonov bombardments or abrupt attacks, but today, cowards claim every victory.

    What is this “Jack of All Trades” when we knew he was a “Master of None? Hypocrisy of highest calibre, wonders will never cease in South Sudan! Wake up fellow citizens. Those who think that the issue is Dinka that, Bari this, Nuer that, Otuho this, Chollo that, Belanda this! etc, such people do not diagnose our main problem well. It is a clique that is killing us, that is looting the country which is not a nation yet, that is detaining us, that is disappearing us etc. The regime must go and as for me, I believe it is a questions of time.

    My condolences to the people of Lakes, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Western Bahr El Ghazal(Wau) and Jonglei as well Central Equatoria who almost each day, are paying a price with life ushered in by uncaring leadership of president Kiir! Walahi, my people shall be free!

    • Chaka, Jill says:

      Brother Biel,
      Your comments above brought tears in my eyes! Who will compare with us in Africa if we in South Sudan only nurses all our different regions and ethnic groups and apply rule of law which will allow check and balances in governance and all regions to flourish? We shall achieve in Science, We shall achieve in arts, We shall dominate in basket ball, in fact shall beat team USA in Olympics but also excel in the world in football!

      But without civil stability a nation shall excel in nothing and there can be no Civil stability without the rule of law!
      My dear RSS, Power belongs to the people, leaders are seasonal.
      We shall overcome and May God bless our beloved Country.

  8. Mankien town says:

    thank you Mr. Beil, it indeed a good article

  9. Moked Batali says:

    Thanks for your exquisite and elaborate article, which sheds light on scores of tacit events that have not eluded the mouths of some intellectuals from Bor side. There are big problems ahead of South Sudan, in fact; VERY BIG indeed!
    Some of those that all communities are dealing with are the issues of IDPs who still call themselves IDPs and some South Sudanese still live in exile, as refugees. The IDPs problems should be settled first before we can do things together, as patriotic South Sudanese. And the IDPs unfortunately come from Bor, what could your answer be regarding the IDPs, lawyer Biel?
    Have you tried addressing such issues to your commissioned institutions?
    I believe everything begins to navigate to right directions when the Bor communities who are settling by force and displacing indigenous of the land; that alone sends wrong signal.

  10. Moked Batali says:

    I meant:
    I believe everything begins to navigate to right directions when the Bor and other Dinka communities who are settling by force and displacing indigenous populations of the land are repatriated to their land, but as long as they continue to threaten communities in all states of South Sudan that alone sends wrong signal and will impede any efforts for achieving harmonious coexistence.

    I know being a Dinka and mentioning your tribes name may make you feel uncomfortable, but we are not saying that all Dinka are doing such and such things and so forth. The argument here though is that politicians are using an ethnic group for dividing and causing anarchy in order for them to continue to rule the whole country through corruption.

  11. Bhanyker says:

    Dear: Beil. B. Beil

    Indeed I appreciate your courage to actually line out the general problem we are facing in the new republic of South Sudan. Sadly, but not surprisingly, our MPs are there in the parliament not to serve the people whom they claim to be representing, but to accumulate wealth in order to serve their family. As a result, they are so frightened to the point that if they try to challenge the president, will eventually result in their dismissal. Which in return could lead to unwanted consequences to their survival. Because they heavily depend on the money they receive as salary. Ignorantly, believing that the money belongs to the president.

    Consequently, the MPs will never ever impeach the president. Simply because they do not want to upset their provider.
    Now, how can we get rid of this visionless president ? The answer is simple and clear, make the country ungovernable. By using different means possible.
    Mr. Beil, you’re already a well known figure, keep it up, our people are ready but needs an organizer.

  12. Eusebio Ewot says:

    Biel Boutros,
    You have said it all. God bless you.

  13. Agip The Great says:

    Dear Biel, Your comments are heart touching. Otherwise, I known not why MILLIONS had to die

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