Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 14 January 2014

Justice must be served to save South Sudan

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By Ambassador Joseph Ayok Anei

January 13, 2014 - The Western media are rightly reporting the tragedy of renewed war in South Sudan. I was born into the civil war which started in 1955 and I do not wish to return to those dark days.

But I am concerned that the media are talking about the importance of starting negotiations between the two sides, anticipating the need for concessions by the Government in order to settle the conflagration. I have seen little evidence in the media of an understanding of the background to the fighting. I suggest that the facts of the conflict are such that no other democratic Government would lightly make concessions to the rebels if similar circumstances arose in their country.

The case for this uprising was made by former vice president Riek Machar and his followers in a press conference on Friday 6 December 2013 in Juba. Essentially, he argued that the country had been badly run even though the disagreement was within the Party. Curiously, he had been vice president of the country from 2005 to 2013. Why, one could reasonably ask, had he not used his powerful position for eight years to put right the wrongs he now sees in the Government? The fact is Riek and his allies were reacting to their sacking and investigation of their corrupt practices while in the government. It must be said that they are one of the richest politicians in the country.
Indeed, he and some of his followers are members of the parliament, and he is first vice chairman of the SPLM, the ruling party. Surely, this provides a peaceful route for scrutinising the Government and promoting change? South Sudan is a democracy; and he could create a new party, if he wished, to reflect his ideals, and to present it to the country during the next national elections.
In their case against the Government, Riek Machar, Pagan Amum, Rebecca Nyandeng and Deng Alor invoke the memory of Dr John Garang, late leader of the liberation movement. They claimed that the SPLM party, and SPLA military have now wrongly moved away from the origins, the latter becoming Salva’s Republican Guards without mentioning Riek Machar’s hidden militia within the SPLA led by Generals John Koung and Peter Gadet who took over the towns of Bor and Bentiu respectively and killing innocent people, by Dr Riek’s orders. Rebecca Nyandeng claims to be the mother of the nation. If she is indeed the mother of the nation, she should be the mother of all people of South Sudan. She should respect the memory and gratitude that South Sudanese people have for her husband, our late leader, Dr John Garang. So rather than dividing her children let her unite them.

It is good that Pagan Amum, Rebecca Nyandeng and Deng Alor look back to the good days of the SPLM/SPLA; but sadly not remembering the wrong they were a part of, the great division in the movement that made it turn guns against each other resulting in the death of fine generals and politicians. It is regrettable to say that history can repeat itself, but to be repeated by the same actors is beyond understanding. It is odd that Riek is now so much in love with John Garang after his death when Riek himself rebelled against Garang and split the SPLM and SPLA in 1991. In so doing, he massacred John Garang’s own people, i.e. over 5000 people in that year in Bor – the very town in which he has just provoked again another massacre of innocent.
No one would claim that all has run smoothly for the Government of South Sudan. In 2013, on the second anniversary of independence, President Salva Kiir spoke publicly of the issues that were rightly the cause of grievances, including corruption in high places. He introduced a major anti-corruption initiative. Having identified 75 high profile Government officials as having embezzled public money, he sacked the entire Government and appointed a new one. Another scandal then arose of some officials - some of them Riek Machar’s followers like Mr Deng Alor – transferring nearly $8 million to an East African bank. Salva took action by sacking those Ministers who were implicated in that scandalous transfer. It looks like this money was part of their plan to bribe people in order to overthrow the elected Government.

Anti-corruption measures also revealed that many ghost staff was on the Government’s books, and so screening of all staff in the army, police, prison service and Government Ministries was introduced to avoid misappropriation of funds. As vice president Riek Machar and his group could themselves have led such an initiative. They did not. Sadly it is clear why. They have not been loyal to the President. In their various Ministries they had not been doing their jobs, but spent the eight years trying to wrong foot and undermine the President in order to replace him.

The story of his life shows that Riek is used to getting to power by intimidating his superiors and by inciting the army and tribalism. In 1991, he had led the so-called “white army”, innocent young men from the Nuer tribe, who are simple cattle herders, to massacre people in Bor. He has repeated this now. He is a man who is used to getting his own way through the barrel of a gun. When he was sidelined by the President in 2013 for disloyalty to the country, he chose not to use the democratic approaches available to him but has reverted to the approach he knows best. So he mounted a coup against the elected President. He has been actively recruiting his tribesmen and inciting hatred and tribalism within the army and among the people. The events that took place last month in Juba and which spread to Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile states have taken many lives needlessly.

But this conflict is of political nature, it is not tribal as mainly portrayed in the media. The majority of Nuer, Riek’s tribe, can see through this and continue to support the Government. What of his opponent, President Salva Kiir? He was John Garang’s second in command throughout the struggle for independence though overshadowed by him and those who claim to be the rightful heirs today. By contrast with Riek and his new sons, Salva was loyal to Garang and faithful to the struggle as he once said to those who claim to be Garang sons ‘If you are Garang’s sons, then I’m his older son.’ He fairly won a democratic election to the Presidency and has led the colossal task of creating a modern country from scratch.

He has stated that there is no way we can go back to war, whether within the South or with another nation. He has clearly indicated to the people that we should instead wage a war for reconstruction and development within the country. Those who know President Kiir agree that he is calm, thoughtful and forgiving which Riek and his followers mistakenly see as a weakness. His anti-corruption campaign which started with those who are corrupt in the government is an indication of the priority he gives to the future of his country over personal advantage. The aborted coup of 15th December 2013 by Dr. Riek and his allies was an attempt to divert public attention. Why should the Government make concessions to Riek Machar and his followers? In my view, they should be held accountable in the court of law for the death of many of our innocent people. Otherwise, the families of those brave men and women of the SPLA who died in the line of duty will not forgive us. Furthermore, the families of those who have been misled by Riek to die will not see justice. Justice must come firsthand, and then followed by a long-term dialogue and reconciliation as an important component of a true process of nation-building. Those who call for release of those who led the conspiracy against the elected president are simply wrong. They should be released only when proven innocent. Justice must be allowed to follow its course according to our laws. We are a free country, and we should remain free.

Ambassador Joseph Ayok Anei is the present director for Research, Planning and Translation at the South Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He can be reached via ayokloewenberg@fastmail.fm



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  • 14 January 06:14, by Tutbol

    Ambassador Joseph Ayok Anei,
    The Media houses in Africa are not real Africans media houses, though some of them claimed to be, but they are still propped UP by the usual criminals in the West through masquerade themselves into Africa through their usual aids to distort Africans narratives. But i can’t blame those the West media houses, they are working for countries interests...

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    • 14 January 06:24, by Tutbol

      But when its come to countries like S Sudan, a tabloid likes SUDANTRIBUNE that is working day & night for destruction of S Sudan & S Sudanese fill in the void. With its massive propaganda. SUDANTRIBUNE doesn’t cite the names of their journalists, but many people call these journalism. SUDANTRIBUNE needs to be thrown a book.

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  • 14 January 07:34, by Marco Bul

    Kiir sacked the cabinate and went to Bhar Ghazal saying,"All the thieves are fired"! Firing of corrupt officials is not enough.They could have been taken to court. He came back and dissolved Political Bureau.Even if they could have formed their parties,still Kiir will go out and say,"Don’t vote for thieves" Is this not character assasination?? Things will improve after this mess.. .. ...........

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  • 14 January 08:46, by bolingo

    Kirr must be tried in the court first for ordering his Melita to kill nuers in Juba

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    • 14 January 11:09, by Adodi Jotuwa

      Kim Deng,
      Do you think your godfather Dr. Defector Riek Machar will never die or get killed because he’s entitled to kill innocent civilians as he did in 1991 in Bor and again in December 2013 in Bor, Akobo in UNMISS compound, in Malakal town and Bentiu? Forget about oil shutdown, Riek and his followers are professional looters and killers in human history.

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      • 14 January 11:10, by Adodi Jotuwa

        Please, why don’t you tell or inform the general readers that Riek and his followers are good at intimidating their bosses who hail from different tribes if their bosses disagree with them TO LET Riek, instead of being voted in to, lead a country that they have been destroying since 1991. Riek is good at looting and destruction, nothing more, nothing less.

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        • 14 January 11:11, by Adodi Jotuwa

          If Riek Machar was able to lead his movement in 1991 though shortly ended up in Khartoum’s dustbin in 1997, why would it be so difficult to form his own party or run as an independent candidate and contest in the upcoming general elections in 2015? Using violence to lead a country is something of the Stone Age era or pre-colonial period.

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          • 14 January 11:11, by Adodi Jotuwa

            Believe me or not, Riek will never rule South Sudan at any cost. Riek fears general election to death because he knows, you know and his followers know the messy track record that he’ll never win any election however he bribed millions south Sudanese to vote for him. The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan does not bar Riek from forming his party or running as independent candidate.

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            • 14 January 11:12, by Adodi Jotuwa

              Using violence as a short-cut to rule RSS is daydreaming. Any media house whether from the East or West cannot install Riek through propaganda as the next president of RSS. Every media house knows pretty well that every candidate---- whether presidential, gubernatorial or parliamentary---must and will base his campaign on record.

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              • 14 January 11:12, by Adodi Jotuwa

                Your record including you past position on some critical issues of the day and positive judgment must surpass any negativity that may be detected by the general public or political opponents because your opponents can easily bring you down during campaigns if your political record is shady. Politics is a dirty game because your opponents would dwell mainly on your negatives in order to…

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                • 14 January 11:13, by Adodi Jotuwa

                  … win elections when addressing a rally or called for interviews on media houses such as radio or TV talk shows as it often happens in the Western world. Whether Riek Machar comes back tomorrow and be forgiven as usual, he will definitely boycott any democratic approach he’s preaching because of his record.

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                  • 14 January 11:13, by Adodi Jotuwa

                    Let’s say that all Nuer tribesmen should vote for Riek as he believes in his Ngundeng’s prophetic/cosmetic victory, how do you calculate populationally that Riek will definitely win any presidential election without votes from Dinka, Shilluk, Zande, Achol, Madi, Bari, Taposa, Latuka, Jur, Muru and all the other tribes (not mentioned) in the Republic of South Sudan?

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                    • 14 January 11:14, by Adodi Jotuwa

                      During campaign, people would ask simple questions “What did you do better or failed to do when you were appointed (politically) VP or voted in (during election) to the people of South Sudan? Or why did you run to Khartoum and aligned with Joseph Kony of LRA to butcher innocent civilians in Northern Uganda and South Sudan, DRC and CAR? Did you think you would contest in election or take power by

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                      • 14 January 11:15, by Adodi Jotuwa

                        Such questions would never help Riek Machar in this political or democratic world besides his tribal world. You cannot plot a coup with members who cannot even win in general elections against your boss/President while rely heavily on defectors from your tribes, and use international media to lie or serve your self-interest instead of the nation’s that reflects popular opinion.

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                        • 16 January 15:21, by Wani khooto

                          Dear mr ADOBI
                          THANK U,I WISH IF ALL SOUTH SUDANESE COULD REASON LIKE U AND UNDERSTAND MACHAR LIKE THIS.

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  • 15 January 19:57, by Nyesi Ta

    This so called ambassador is a puppet and tribalist, he is just depending Kiir because they come from the same tribe. If ambassador Anei is not tribalist, why shouldn’t he mention the innocent lives of Nuer children, women, and men killed in Juba. Does he only value the lives of what he called fine generals and corrupt politicians. You can’t hide ur tribal tendency Mr. Pseudo Ambassador.

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  • 21 January 16:21, by Positive Thinker

    This article is one sided and indeed a wast of time from the side of the writer. Mr. With such one sided reasoning we have long way to go in this country. Non of the leaders in government and in opposition is a saint. And talking of a coup, convince the world Sir with facts.

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